The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should visit their dentist every six months for a routine checkup and cleaning. This allows for early diagnosis of any problems so that they are easier and less expensive to address. During the exam, your child’s pediatric dentist will carefully check the health and development of your child’s teeth and gums. X-rays may be necessary as they make it easier for the pediatric dentist to spot decay and make sure teeth are coming in properly. Our digital X-rays require less radiation and make it possible for you and your child to see what’s going in their mouth. The dentist will gently probe your child’s gums for disease or places where disease could develop. If any problems are found, your pediatric dentist will explain what’s happening in easy-to-understand terms and discuss ways to treat it.
Professional cleaning is very important. Even if your child is brushing and flossing daily at home, it’s hard for them to remove all food particles and bacteria that allow plaque to build up on your child’s teeth. Plaque can cause cavities and gum disease. You child may also have a fluoride treatment and/or sealants to help prevent tooth decay.
Sealants are a very popular, painless way to help keep your child cavity free. They are applied to back molars after a child has had a cleaning and exam, where four out of five cavities in children are found.
A sealant is a plastic material that is painted onto the chewing surface of the tooth to act as a barrier for food, plaque and acid that causes decay. Sealants are practically invisible because they are clear, white or slightly tinted to exactly match your child’s teeth. Even better, they take only a few minutes to apply, during one office visit, and they can protect your child throughout their cavity-prone years.
Applying sealants is a comfortable procedure. The teeth are cleaned and prepped, and the sealant is painted on and hardened with a special light. Your child can drink and eat right away.
The natural mineral fluoride plays an important part in reducing tooth decay, so it’s important that your child get enough fluoride to reap its benefits.
How does fluoride work? Bacteria in your mouth produce acid that removes minerals from the surface of your teeth. Fluoride can stop the tooth decay process by preventing the minerals in tooth enamel from breaking down. Because it is so effective, fluoride has been added to community water supplies since the 1940s, and today, more than 70% of cities with public water supplies have fluoridated water. Besides the water supply, an estimated 95% of toothpastes sold in the US contain fluoride.
While a certain amount of fluoride is good for teeth, swallowing too much fluoride can cause a child’s teeth to develop lasting white spots, brown stains or problems with the enamel in permanent teeth. To prevent this problem, which is called dental fluorosis, parents should make sure their children do not get too much fluoride. Toddlers two to three years old, for example, can’t spit out toothpaste very well, and they might swallow too much fluoridated toothpaste. Certain foods also contain large amounts of fluoride.
At the other extreme, your tap or well water might not have enough fluoride, or if your child drinks only bottled water, it may not contain fluoride at all.
It’s important for parents to make sure their children get the right amount of fluoride, and at Hingham Pediatric Dentistry, we’re glad to advise you. If your child needs more fluoride than he or she is likely getting, we can give you a prescription to help. If we see your child is developing dental fluorosis, we can help figure out the cause and prevent further problems.
X-rays Help Keep Your Child Smiling
Even for young children who only have their primary teeth, x-rays play a big role in their dental health. X-rays are our best way to make sure teeth are coming in properly, that they are healthy and that unseen problems are not cropping up. Besides helping us find decay, x-rays also enable us to see how wisdom teeth are coming in and help our orthodontists in planning for treatment.
Think of x-rays as a way to find dental problems early, so it is easier and more affordable to treat your child. We use digital x-rays and take particular care so that your child receives the least amount of exposure.
For a growing child, we suggests x-rays once each year. It’s one of the best ways we can make sure your child keeps smiling.
In need of immediate care?
We provide emergency phone consultation services after working hours and on weekends. Call us at our office (781) 474-7865