Preventive Care for Your Child
Prevention is the most important! Studies show that over half of American children develop cavities. At each visit, we do everything we can to ensure your child and your family learns healthy habits that can take home with them. We hope that they use these skills to maintain a lifelong, healthy and happy smile.
Tooth decay is caused by sugars that turn into an acid, which can break down the teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents do not practice regular, good oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines combined with regular dental visits help keep tooth decay away.
Brushing can be fun, and your child should brush as soon as the first tooth arrives. When a baby’s tooth erupts, parents should brush the tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a smear-sized amount of toothpaste. We recommend brushing two times a day for optimal oral hygiene. An adult should help supervise brushing until a child has the manual dexterity to tie their shoe.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits. You can start flossing as soon as the teeth touch side by side. If you are unsure, please ask your dentist at your next visit.
Routine Dental Visits
Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth their strongest. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they “seal” the deep grooves in your child’s teeth, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but will be monitored at your child’s regular checkups.
Caring for Smiles at Every Age
Ages 0 to 3
Even before teeth come in, you can desensitize your child's mouth to prepare for future brushing success. Gently care for your infant's smile by using a soft silicone brush, warm/damp washcloth, or even a clean finger to gently massage the gums, cheek, and tongue. Start flossing once the teeth touch side by side. After the first tooth comes in, reach for a kid-friendly toothbrush with soft bristles and use a fluoride toothpaste to combat cavities early. Schedule their first dental visit as soon as those first teeth appear!
Ages 6 to 10
As your child begins to lose their baby teeth around the ages of 6 and 7, new adult teeth will begin to take their place. Your child will get new adult molars and beautiful new front teeth. At this age, your dentist will help monitor for timing of sealants, assess the way your child's adult teeth erupt, provide an referral to an orthodontist if necessary, and reinforce healthy dental habits. This is a major smile milestone, so it’s important to help your child take care of their "forever" teeth!
Ages 4 to 5
Take some time to build daily dental habits. At ages 4 and 5, your child should be brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Make brushing fun by singing a song, playing a game, or brushing together as a family. By letting them pick out a tasty toothpaste and toothbrush with a fun color or character, you can continue to encourage awesome oral health habits! If your child likes to brush themselves, you can take turns. An adult should supervise brushing until your child has the manual dexterity to tie their own shoe.
Ages 11 and Up
By the time your child turns 12-13, most of your child's permanent teeth will be in place, which may lead to unique challenges. But there’s no need to worry — our team is here to keep their smile on track through adolescence and beyond. In our office, we also provide complimentary orthodontic consults for every patient by our in-house orthodontic consult. We help create a beautiful smile your child can be proud to show off!
Preventive Services in Our Office
Dental Checkups and Cleanings
Regular exams are an essential part of maintaining your child’s oral health and are recommended every 6 months. With regular visits, we’ll help your child avoid common dental issues.
During your child's regular exam, we will:
Examine the soft and hard tissue, check for cavities, and the health of the gums and surrounding tissue
Thoroughly clean the teeth
X-rays if needed
Evaluate the eruption of teeth and bite and if needed, recommend an orthodontic evaluation at the appropriate time
Review home care, brushing and flossing
Visiting our office every six months gives you the opportunity to ask the doctor any questions you may have about your child’s oral health. We value your time and try to schedule siblings together to minimize your time in the office. At the end of the appointment, we will schedule the following six-month “recall appointment.”
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. A fluoride treatment is done immediately after the teeth have been cleaned and polished, and takes just a few minutes. There are no eating or drinking restrictions after the fluoride treatment.
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your child’s mouth. It is difficult for a toothbrush to get between the small cracks and grooves on your little one’s teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your son or daughter’s teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are a resin that bonds and hardens in the deep grooves in the chewing surface of the tooth. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your child’s teeth becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.
It is more common to seal permanent teeth rather than baby teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and our dentists will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last for several years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. Once sealants are placed, we will inspect them at each regular checkup.
It is still possible to get a cavity on a sealed tooth, such as decay between the teeth where sealants cannot reach. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your child’s sealants come off, let us know, and schedule an appointment for your little one’s teeth to be re-sealed.