Keeping your child’s teeth healthy goes beyond just maintaining good brushing habits. While regular brushing and flossing are essential for strong teeth, there are common pediatric dental problems like tooth decay and cavities that brushing alone can’t solve. Luckily, there are steps that you and your child can take to help ensure that their teeth remain healthy and strong –– and that your next visit to the pediatric dentist is a breeze. Next time you visit your pediatric dentist, ask about preventative measures for these common dental problems in children.
Fight Weakened Enamel with Fluoride
Healthy teeth are covered in a hard, protective outer layer called enamel. Enamel protects teeth from the harmful effects of bacteria and acids that can cause tooth decay, and it also helps prevent sensitivity to temperatures and sweetness.
Eroding of the enamel is a common dental problem in children. Unfortunately, enamel can be eroded or damaged, and once it’s eroded, it doesn’t regenerate. That’s why protecting your child’s enamel is so important. One simple way to help keep your child’s enamel strong is fluoride treatments.
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps prevent tooth decay. For children whose teeth aren’t fully developed yet, fluoride helps to harden the enamel of growing teeth. Fluoride also helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already emerged.
Your child can opt for topical fluoride treatments that include toothpastes, mouth rinses, and professionally-applied fluoride treatments. These topical treatments help to strengthen the enamel of existing teeth.
Strong enamel can help prevent against a number of common pediatric dental problems like tooth decay, so fluoride treatments are a great place to start.
Eliminate Plaque and Tartar Buildup
Even if your child is a pro at brushing their teeth, regular brushing isn’t a substitute for professional cleanings. Professional dental cleanings can remove plaque and tartar buildup that regular brushing can’t, and this will help prevent the development of common pediatric dental problems like cavities or more serious issues like pulpal infections.
When your child goes in for their cleaning, the dentist and hygienist will go through several steps to clean their teeth. The dentist or dental hygienist will use a scaler to scrape tartar off the teeth, both below and above the gum line. Alternatively, the dentist may use an ultrasonic device that vibrates to shake plaque and tartar loose. The plaque and tartar will be rinsed away with water. Using a lightly abrasive paste, the dentist will polish the teeth. Finally, the dentist will floss between the teeth to be sure that all plaque buildup is removed.
In addition to dental cleanings, your child’s dental checkup will include an examination of their teeth. The dentist will use a small metal probe and mirror to check teeth for any signs of decay. They will also check your child’s gums for any redness or swelling that can indicate gum disease. The earlier this issues are detected, the sooner treatment can begin. And the sooner these issues are treated, the less likely they are to develop into something more serious.
Prevent Cavities with a Tooth-Healthy Diet
One of the most common pediatric dental problems are cavities caused by tooth decay. Your child’s diet can actually play a big role in causing tooth decay if they’re eating the wrong foods. Parents should take note of what foods can cause tooth problems and try to cut them out of children’s diets.
The number one tooth-decay-causing culprit is sugar, so limit your child’s sugar intake wherever you can. When sugar gets on your child’s teeth, it becomes a food source for bacteria. The bacteria converts sugar into acids, which can then lead to tooth decay and cavities.
Avoid sticky, sugary foods like fruit snacks and dried fruit. These foods stick to teeth, giving bacteria plenty of time to feed on the sugars. Starchy snacks made from refined carbohydrates are also a no-go. These starches break down into a gummy, sugary paste that sticks in the crevices of teeth, and bacteria can feed on that too.
Brushing teeth and flossing after eating can help get rid of any lingering food particles, which can reduce your child’s risk for developing tooth decay and needing composite fillings down the road.
Stave Off Tooth Decay with Dental Sealants
Your child’s permanent teeth start to come in around age 6. These adult teeth have various pits and fissures that make it easy for food to get stuck in, which provides a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria. Cavities are incredibly common among young children since they often struggle to brush well enough to clean out the crevices in their teeth.
Pediatric dental sealants are plastic-like coverings that are formed to fit the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth. They work best when applied to teeth with large chewing surfaces, such as molars. When applied to your child’s adult teeth, dental sealants can prevent food from getting stuck in the teeth’s crevices and will thus help prevent tooth decay. Dental sealants are impervious to saliva, bacteria, and food particles.
With proper care, dental sealants can last up to 10 years. During all that time, they’ll be hard at work to prevent common pediatric dental problems and to keep your child’s teeth healthy.
Make Your Child’s Appointment Today
One of the best ways to help prevent common pediatric dental problems is to make sure that your child has regular 6-month dental checkups. At these appointments, your child’s dentist will examine their teeth to make sure that there are no early signs of tooth decay or other issues.
You can work with your child’s dentist to make sure that you and your child are doing everything you can to keep their smile healthy. Make your child’s next appointment at Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental today.