Halting Kids’ Oral Health Woes with a Proactive Approach and Preventive Treatments
“Your child has a cavity” is a phrase all parents hope not to hear from their child’s pediatric dentist. Most parents are aware that tooth decay is a rampant issue. In fact, it’s even considered the “most common chronic disease” among kids ages 6 to 19.
There is good news, however. The vast majority of tooth decay cases are preventable!
Parents should know that preventive pediatric dental care is an incredibly effective field of dentistry and is readily available.
What are preventive pediatric dental care treatments?
Preventive pediatric dental care is very similar to adult preventive dentistry. It’s a field of dentistry dedicated to preventing common dental health problems from occurring by taking a proactive approach.
The goal of preventive pediatric dental care is to stop issues like tooth decay from taking hold of your child’s smile in the first place. Many preventive care treatments are considered “optional” though their clear oral health advantages place them much more on the side of necessity rather than a luxury.
How does preventive pediatric dentistry help kids?
Preventive pediatric dentistry benefits kids by reducing the chances of oral health issues occurring. These problems largely revolve around cavity prevention, though certain treatments have more specific uses, as in the case of space maintainers.
Preventive dental care treatments for kids all share one major advantage — they protect your child’s future oral health. By opting in for preventive care treatments now, parents can prevent future cavities, oral health injuries, or misaligned teeth in the future.
Which preventive dental treatments are best for my child?
There are five preventive dental care treatments for kids recommended by pediatric dentists. Your child may benefit from one or even all of these, depending on their oral health needs.
1. Professional Teeth Cleaning
Did you know that kids need professional teeth cleanings just as often as adults? In fact, some kids who are battling chronic tooth decay may even benefit from more frequent visits with a hygienist.
The average child should have their teeth deep cleaned every six months, often during their routine six-month checkup with their pediatric dentist. These deep cleanings are crucial for cavity prevention, gum disease prevention, and general oral health.
Keep in mind that even the most fastidious brusher can’t remove all plaque with a toothbrush and floss. Twice-daily, two-minute brushing sessions and daily flossing will go a long way in reducing plaque buildup, but it doesn’t replace regular professional cleanings.
2. Fluoride Treatment
Fluoride treatments are usually offered during your child’s professional teeth cleaning sessions as a final step. You might be wondering if it’s really necessary.
The majority of pediatric dentists will wholeheartedly agree that fluoride treatments are a very important preventive treatment option, especially for kids. These treatments are completely safe and often incur no additional cost to parents as nearly every dental insurance plan offers coverage. It only takes a few minutes to apply the fluoride and offers long-term protection against cavities until your child’s next appointment in six months.
If you are concerned about too much fluoride, speaking with your child’s pediatric dentist is the best source of information.
3. Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are a favorite preventive treatment amongst pediatric dentists. You can go as far as to say that dental sealants are hands-down the most effective preventive care treatment choice for kids.
Why are dental sealants so great? The short answer is they provide long-term cavity protection by forming a physical barrier on your child’s most vulnerable teeth. Dental sealants are a plastic coating placed on your child’s molars, which are the teeth most vulnerable to deep, damaging cavities. They are usually placed on adult molars, though some dentists may recommend them for baby teeth as well.
Once in place, properly applied dental sealants last for years! During the first two years, they protect against 80% of cavities. By year four, they still stop 50% of cavities.
4. Space Maintainers
Baby teeth may be temporary, but prematurely losing a baby tooth can cause future problems for adult teeth.
Kids who have lost a tooth from an injury or from a necessary extraction due to severe decay will have a gap in their smiles. Depending on how early the tooth was lost, there might be quite a lot of time before the adult tooth is due to erupt. Teeth will gradually shift and attempt to fill the gap. This can lead to alignment issues, crowding, and crooked teeth.
A great preventive treatment option is a space maintainer. A space maintainer isn’t exactly a restorative treatment, like a dental bridge. Instead, it simply prevents neighboring baby teeth from shifting into the gap from the missing tooth. It ensures that the future adult tooth will be able to erupt without impacting or crowding.
Mouthguards help prevent oral injuries, chipping, and other physical damage. Kids who are involved in traditional contact sports, such as football or wrestling, should absolutely have a well-fitting mouthguard. However, younger kids involved in sports like Little League can also benefit from the protective nature of mouthguards, even if not considered a “necessity” for the sport itself.
Mouthguards also help kids who have bruxism or teeth grinding. This habit is often behavioral and occurs subconsciously as a reaction to stress, excitement, and similar emotions. It can commonly happen at night while sleeping. In this case, a mouth guard will prevent chipping, breaks, and cracking from happening to your child’s teeth.
A custom night mouthguard can also help your child’s obstructive sleep apnea and related snoring or open-mouth breathing.
Book your child’s preventive pediatric dental treatments appointment at Staley Dental.
Staley Dental provides a full menu of pediatric dental care services, including all five of the featured preventive care treatments. Staley Dental also provides complete dental care for the entire family, including restorative and cosmetic dentistry services for adults.
You can schedule an appointment for your child — or yourself! — by calling our downtown Boise office or filling out this online form.