What is Preventative Dentistry?
Preventative dentistry is a broad term that includes a range of treatments designed to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of problematic oral health conditions from occurring later. In essence, a regularly-scheduled cleaning or fluoride treatment can be considered preventative because it can help remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth that could create other complications in the future.
In general medicine, most people schedule an annual physical exam with their primary care physician in order to run tests, check their vitals and make sure that their health is in check. The same should be done with their dentists to ensure that their oral health is optimal as well. In this article, we’ll be discussing the importance of preventative dental care, particularly in children as well as what you can do on your own to protect your child’s oral health.
The Importance of Preventative Dentistry for Children
Childhood is the most important time in a person’s life to ensure that their oral health is kept in check. As children start to grow, they eventually lose their baby teeth and their permanent teeth begin to come in. This is a vital stage in children’s oral health and preventative dentistry has proved to be beneficial for preventing complications that could affect their mouths in adulthood.
Cavities are one of the common issues seen in children’s teeth. It is important to know that allowing your children to frequently enjoy sugary snacks and drinks, can lead to cavities forming. You should have your child regularly checked for cavities to make sure that they are treated as soon as possible to avoid pain and worsening of the problem.
Genetic factors may also affect growth and development of the dentition and potentially create further costly treatments in the future. Regular visits to the dentist will allow them to examine and monitor growth of your children’s teeth to make sure that they are able to catch any abnormalities early on and decrease the chance of needing more extensive procedures later on.
In general, preventative dentistry can help to prevent issues such as premature or unintended tooth loss, cavities, gum diseases, tooth decay, and a variety of other similar conditions.
What Are Some Examples of Preventative Care?
There is no single definition for preventative care. Instead, it can refer to a wide variety of treatments, such as:
Diagnostics- Just as you would have your blood pressure and weight taken at a physical exam, dentists use dental x-rays and oral check-ups to monitor and make sure that your child’s teeth are as healthy as can be. Exams should be performed at least every six months and radiographs (x-rays) will be utilizes at intervals that are specific to your child’s needs.
Cleanings and fluoride treatments- While regular brushing is hugely important, your child’s teeth also require professional cleanings to remove tarter which can’t be done at home. At your regular visits, the dentist will typically do a thorough cleaning with fluoride treatments to provide extra protection against cavities.
Sealants to prevent molar decay- Dental sealants are thin coatings that are applied to the molars in the back of the mouth. These work to block out extra food and germs and protect your child’s teeth from molar decay. The placement of sealants is typically after the permanent molars erupt.
Nutrition and oral hygiene counseling from a dentist- Your dentist will be able to advise you and your child on healthy nutritional and oral hygiene habits. Following their advice helps prevent any oral issues later on.
Spacer maintainers for children- Spacers are used for maintaining the space for a permanent tooth if a baby tooth is lost prematurely. They prevent the other baby teeth from shifting into the empty space and save room for the adult tooth to grow in.
How to Practice Preventative Dental Care Between Appointments
Since most people only visit the dentist once or twice a year, it’s important to practice preventative dental care on your own between visits. These practices and habits will help you maintain good oral health and prevent issues with your child’s teeth:
- Brush twice daily and don’t forget to floss
- Use mouthwash (If your child can swish without swallowing)
- Don’t wait to make appointments if there are any concerns about cavities, gum health, etc.
- Schedule exams every six months
- Avoid eating too many acidic foods which could harm tooth enamel
- Consider a mouthguard for your child if they play sports
- Ask your dentist if they would recommend orthodontic treatment for your child as their adult teeth begin growing in
Get Pediatric Preventative Dental Care in the NY Capital Region
At Where Smiles Grow, we understand how important it is for your child to maintain good oral health as they grow. Our team of experts are specialized and dedicated to pediatric dentistry and offer a variety of dental services at three convenient locations across the NY Capital Region.
To learn more about preventative dentistry for your child, schedule an appointment today.