PIT AND FISSURE SEALANTS
To help prevent decay in children’s teeth, pit and fissure sealants can be extremely effective. In this procedure, the dentist applies a clear or shaded plastic coating to the biting or chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These molars have natural grooves and depressions (pits and fissures) where plaque and food collect. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting the decay-prone areas of the back teeth from plaque and acids. Studies have shown that sealants can reduce tooth decay by as much as 90% to 100%.
Application is usually simple and fast, often requiring only a few minutes for each tooth and there is no freezing involved. The teeth to be sealed are cleaned and swabbed with a solution that helps the sealant adhere to the tooth surface. The sealant is then brushed onto the tooth and allowed to harden. Some sealants require exposure to a special light to help them harden.
CLEANING INFANTS AND CHILDREN’S TEETH
Baby teeth play an important role in the child’s development. They encourage the development of the jawbone and help maintain the space required to accept larger permanent teeth that come in as a child matures. Because plaque can form on baby teeth and make them susceptible to cavities, proper cleaning is necessary. Establishing good brushing practices during early childhood gives children a foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.
Even before the first tooth has appeared, an infant’s gums should be wiped with a small cloth or gauze pad after each feeding to remove food residue. Tooth brushing can begin once the teeth begin appearing. A small, soft-bristled toothbrush moistened with water should be used. Although some children may be ready to brush their teeth on their own by age three, most still need adult supervision until they reach school age to make certain that the hard-to-reach areas in the back of the mouth et the needed attention.
WHY FLUORIDE IS IMPORTANT
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral in most food and water supplies, is an essential component for bone and tooth enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth. Fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel and help teeth resist decay. It also may reduce the effects of plaque, the invisible bacterial substance that forms on tooth and promotes decay. Studies have shown that fluoride can prevent new cavities from getting larger and also prevent cavity formation at the roots of teeth in adults whose gums have receded.
Fluoride is present in many water supplies, toothpaste, mouthrinses and supplements. Your dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements in table or liquid form for you or your children or suggest a topical fluoride which is applied in the dental office. Fluoride is one of the great achievements in the prevention of dental decay.
THOSE SIX-YEAR MOLARS
When your child is about the age of six, his or her six-year molars are beginning to erupt. These are the big back teeth so important for chewing and grinding. Some people may think they are primary molars to be replaced later like the child’s other baby teeth. But they are not. They are permanent teeth and with proper care, should last a lifetime.
The condition and shape they are in when they erupt are especially important and should be checked carefully. Among other things, these molars help determine the shape of the lower part of the face. They can also have a direct effect on the position and health of the other teeth.
If they come in crooked, for example, this can throw the other teeth out of alignment. This not only affects chewing efficiency but the shape of the mouth and tendency toward tooth decay.
Protective mouth guards, long associated with football and other contact sports, can prevent injuries in a wide variety of other athletic activities as well. Whether your child is skating, skiing or skateboarding, there is a risk of injuring teeth, lips, cheeks and the tongue. Almost any vigorous sport can cause these injuries -- injuries that could easily be prevented with a sports guard.
Whether your child takes part in one such activity or dozens, all that is needed is a single, well-constructed mouth protector.
We offer the fabrication of sports guards as a free service to our patients, with a limit of one per year.