The Center for Dentistry at Children’s Health delivers the caring, compassionate, expert dental care for a variety of children, including those who have special healthcare needs, a complex medical condition and/or who require sedation for dental treatment. Our dentists are specially trained to provide the preventive dental treatments that will help ensure optimum health for your child, including:
Good oral care is an important way to guard your child’s overall health. While routine brushing and flossing are important, so is visiting the dentist for a full exam and cleaning every six months, beginning when your child’s first tooth comes in, but no later than 12 months. The examination is also an opportunity for you to ask questions about any changes or issues you’ve noticed and for the dentist to offer your child helpful tips on keeping his or her teeth clean and healthy.
At regular check-ups, your child’s dentist will examine the teeth and gums to evaluate if there is any tooth decay or gum disease. Often, an X-ray will be taken to help the dentist see the entire tooth, including the root.
Teeth will be cleaned to remove plaque, a sticky film, and hardened plaque called tartar. It is important to remove plaque and tartar because they can cause gum and tooth decay. Plaque and tartar can only be removed by the special instruments used by your child’s dentist.
Research has shown that fluoride reduces cavities in children by being incorporated into the tooth surface, making teeth stronger and more resistant to decay. It helps repair the early stages of tooth decay before the decay becomes visible.
A fluoride treatment in the dentist’s office takes only a few minutes. The fluoride, in a higher dose than you can receive in fluoride toothpaste, is painted on the teeth. Your child will not be allowed to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride.
Depending on your child’s oral health, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments every three, six or 12 months.
Sealants give your child’s teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities on the biting surface of the tooth. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves and crevices are filled in and become smooth, so they are less likely to harbor plaque and bacteria, which can cause the cavity to begin.
It is more common to seal permanent teeth rather than baby teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis. Sealants are typically applied to a child’s permanent 6-year and 12-year molars.
If your dentist recommends sealants for your child’s teeth, the procedure takes only a few minutes and can be done during the regular exam. After the teeth are cleaned, a solution is applied to condition the tooth. That solution is rinsed and then the teeth are dried. The sealant is then applied, and it dries within seconds. Sealants typically last from three to five years.
A check-up every six months is recommended to prevent cavities and other dental problems.
Baby teeth (primary teeth) are important because they hold the place for permanent teeth. If baby teeth become decayed or gum disease sets in, baby teeth may come out too early. Without baby teeth to guide them in, permanent teeth tend to emerge in a crooked fashion, often becoming tilted or crowded because of inadequate space. This can result in bite problems that may require extensive orthodontic treatment later.
Take your child to the dentist regularly, beginning soon after the first tooth comes in. Learn how to brush your child’s teeth, then teach him or her proper brushing and flossing techniques and make sure he or she is doing both regularly. Feeding your child a balanced diet that is not high in sugar will also promote a healthy mouth.
The average age for a baby to get his or her first tooth is six months. Your child should have 20 baby teeth by three years of age. The first permanent molars come in around the age of six, and they erupt behind baby teeth. Your child should lose this or her first tooth around age six or seven, and most children lose their last baby teeth by the time they’re 12.