Preventive dentistry requires participation from your child, our dental team, and you. The goal of preventive dentistry is to prevent the development of cavities and gum disease through routine cleanings, checkups, and dental education from our office. A healthy mouth helps to foster a happy and healthy child.
Preventive dentistry begins at home with the appearance of your child’s first tooth, usually around six months of age. Even before the first dental visit, you should be cleaning your child’s teeth with a moist cloth after each feeding.
By the time your son or daughter reaches the age of one, you should schedule an initial visit with us. Beginning dental visits early is the key to great dental health because these visits assist us in recognizing and addressing potential problems before they become serious.
Dr. Angela and the Alexandria Children's Dentistry staff will teach you how to protect your little one’s dental health by providing a personalized program of oral hygiene instructions, dietary counseling, and fluoride recommendations if necessary. As our team becomes active participants in your child’s preventive oral care, we develop healthy habits encouraged by positive reinforcement to ensure your youngster grows up as part of a cavity free generation.
In addition to the dental exam and cleaning, we will look at your child’s risk for cavities, discuss the prevention of dental injuries, address concerns (if any) about oral habits, encourage mouthguard use, and monitor your son or daughter’s dental growth and development.
Care of Your Child’s Teeth
Begin daily brushing as soon as your little one’s first tooth erupts. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends twice daily brushing with toothpaste that has fluoride in it, from the moment the first tooth erupts.
A smear of fluoride toothpaste can be used for children who can’t spit out effectively. Only a smear! (Discuss this with our dentists. Sometimes we recommend the use of a fluoride-free toothpaste until the patient can spit all of the toothpaste out!)
As soon as your child is spitting out all the toothpaste effectively, you may advance to allowing her or him to brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
A parent should be brushing the child’s teeth up to 7 years old. Allow your youngster to brush his or her own teeth, but it’s essential to brush their teeth after they have brushed to ensure their teeth are cleaned properly. A great way to measure your child’s manual dexterity is whether her or she can tie shoes or not! If your child can tie their own shoes, we can discuss the transition to brushing their teeth all by themselves with your supervision.
Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer, and chewing surfaces. When teaching children to brush, place the brush at a 45-degree angle; start along the gum line with a soft-bristle brush in a gentle circular motion.
Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.
Flossing removes plaque between the teeth, where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is necessary when any two teeth touch. But it’s important to start flossing by age 2, just to get your child used to the sensation of flossing.
You should floss your son or daughter’s teeth until he or she can do it alone. Also, we love the option of flossers. They are really easy for you and your child to use. Flossers are little plastic forks that have just about half an inch of floss. They make flossing easier since they are small and fit in your mouth better than your fingers!
Use a fluoridated mouth rinse after brushing and flossing before bedtime. For the rinse to be effective, avoid drinking, eating, or rinsing after use. Fluoridated mouth rinses should not be used for a child who cannot “spit” out the rinse after use.
Good Diet = Healthy Teeth
Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones, and soft tissues of the mouth require a well-balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups.
Most snacks that children eat can lead to cavity formation. The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance for tooth decay. How long food remains in the mouth also plays a role. For example, hard candy and breath mints stay in the mouth a long time, which cause longer acid attacks on tooth enamel.
If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese, which are healthier and better for children’s teeth.
We may also recommend protective sealants for your child. Sealants can be applied to your child’s molars and/or premolars to prevent decay on hard-to-clean surfaces.
Tooth decay often occurs on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The good news is that sealants can offer major protection against tooth decay and improve your chances to stay filling-free.
Fluoride is an element that has been shown to be beneficial to teeth. However, too little or too much fluoride can be detrimental.
Little or no fluoride will not strengthen the teeth to help them resist cavities. Excessive fluoride ingestion by preschool-aged children can lead to dental fluorosis, which is a chalky-white to even brown discoloration of the permanent teeth. We will determine the right amount of fluoride your child needs for optimal dental health.
Xylitol – Reducing Cavities
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes the benefits of xylitol for the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special healthcare needs.
The use of XYLITOL GUM by mothers (two to three times per day) starting three months after delivery and until the child is two years old, has proven to reduce cavities up to 70% by the time the youngster turns five years old.
Studies using xylitol as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new tooth decay, along with some reversal of existing dental caries. Xylitol provides additional protection that enhances all existing prevention methods.
This xylitol effect is long-lasting and possibly permanent. Low decay rates persist even years after the trials have been completed.
To find gum or other products containing xylitol, try visiting your local health food store or search the Internet to find products that contain 100% xylitol.