Just like grown-ups, kids need preventative care to help keep their teeth in great shape. Tooth decay is up to five times more common than childhood asthma, and over 40% of kids have cavities by the time they reach kindergarten. This is a major problem because kids who develop cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to develop cavities in their permanent teeth.
But what exactly goes into preventative care for kids? What can you do to keep your child’s teeth in great shape to set them up for dental success? Here’s what you need to know about preventative care for kids.
It’s recommended to visit kids dentists at least once every six months for a professional cleaning. Flossing and brushing twice a day can help to remove plaque from your child’s teeth, but only kids dentists can remove plaque build-up and tartar using specialized tools. Tartar is hardened plaque that can put both your kids at a greater risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and gingivitis if it’s not removed from their teeth.
Kids dentists don’t only provide cleanings. They also conduct screenings and examinations to catch any potential problems before they become serious issues or put your child’s health at risk. Some common issues that may be detected during dental examinations include overbites, underbites, and teeth crowding.
Fluoride treatments are used to help strengthen and protect the teeth and are usually applied by a dentist about twice a year. Fluoride is a natural mineral that’s present in your body, in water, and in foods such as spinach, potatoes, and grapes. It’s also used in toothpaste to prevent bacteria in your mouth from doing too much damage to your enamel.
According to the American Dental Association, it’s recommended that your kids begin fluoride treatment on their baby teeth as soon as new teeth come in and they visit the dentist for the first time. Fluoride treatments are painless and quick-drying so you don’t have to worry about it coming off with your child’s saliva.
Sealants are also a great way to help prevent tooth decay, especially on their molars which can be more difficult to reach with your toothbrush and dental floss. Sealants are used on permanent teeth and are thin plastic coatings applied to the surface of the tooth. Sealants are typically applied when your kids are between the ages of 11 and 14, or when their permanent molars have come in.
If your child is in youth sports, it’s a good idea to get them a mouth guard to help them protect their teeth. Mouth guards might seem a little overzealous at first, but you’d be surprised by how rough kids can get on the field or the court. Accidents happen, too. A ball headed in the wrong direction can make some harsh physical contact. Mouth guards help to protect your kids’ teeth and gums from situations like this so the only thing you have to worry about is kissing any ouchies better.
Your child’s baby teeth serve as a blueprint for their permanent teeth. When a baby tooth falls out, a permanent tooth will use the baby teeth surrounding that spot as guidelines for where to come in. But sometimes kids lose more than one baby tooth at a time or a baby tooth comes out prematurely. This can pose a problem for your child’s permanent teeth. The teeth may come in crooked or overcrowd the other teeth because it’s not sure where to go. Sometimes your child’s teeth can also shift to make up for the empty space in their gums if another tooth comes out at the wrong time.
Space maintainers help to keep issues like this from happening. A space maintainer is a plastic or metal appliance that’s customized to fit your child’s teeth comfortably. The appliance is temporary and holds the spot of a missing tooth until a new one comes in. Space maintainers help to keep permanent teeth from coming in incorrectly and keep other teeth from trying to shift.
The best way to provide preventative dental care for your kids is by visiting kids dentists regularly. If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist in Gainesville, VA, or the surrounding area, Smilez Pediatric Dental Group is the family practice for you. For more information about our pediatric dental services, contact us today.