A sealant is a plastic material (resin) that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars and premolars). The resin bonds to the depressions and grooves (called pits and fissures) in the back teeth. This is a barrier that protects the tooth enamel from plaque and acids. Sealants are necessary because the grooves in the back teeth can sometimes be difficult to keep clean. Toothbrush bristles cannot reach into them and plaque and debris can build up inside of them. Permanent molars are most prone to decay during the first two years after they emerge into the mouth. Sealants can help to decrease the risk of decay.
Cleanings are recommended by the American Dental Association every 6 months for both you and your child. Plaque and food debris can build up on teeth if they are not brushed properly. If plaque is left on your teeth for too long, it can harden into a material called calculus, or tartar. Both plaque and calculus, if not removed from your teeth, can irritate your gums and cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or if left untreated, gum disease. Make sure you visit your dentist every 6 months to keep your teeth pearly white and healthy!
Fluoride exists naturally in water sources, and is derived from fluorine, which is a common element in the Earth's crust. It is well known that fluoride helps prevent and even reverse the early stages of tooth decay. Tooth decay happens when the bacteria in plaque feed off the sugars in the mouth. The bacteria produce damaging acids that dissolve the hard enamel surfaces of teeth. If the damage is not stopped or treated, the bacteria can break through the enamel and cause tooth decay/cavities. Cavities weaken teeth and can lead to pain, tooth loss, or even widespread infection in the most severe cases.
Fluoride combats tooth decay in two ways; it is incorporated into the structure of developing teeth when it is ingested and it protects teeth when it comes in contact with the surface of the teeth. Some examples are fluoride toothpaste, rinses, supplements and professional treatments. Fluoride prevents the acid produced by the bacteria in plaque from dissolving, or demineralizing, tooth enamel. Fluoride also allows some teeth damaged by acid to repair, or remineralize, themselves. Fluoride cannot repair cavities, but it can reverse early signs of tooth decay and may prevent new cavities from forming.
Because each patient is unique, the need for dental x-rays and frequency can be determined only after consideration of the patient’s medical and dental histories, completion of a thorough clinical examination, and assessment of the patient’s vulnerability to environmental factors that affect oral health. The ADA and AAPD guidelines for prescribing x-rays recommends between a 6-24 month frequency, depending on the child’s cavity risk assessment, which includes the child’s diet, oral hygiene habits, orthodontic appliances, water fluoridation level, and medical history. Generally, we recommend your child get their first set of x-rays around 4 - 5 years old, or sooner if trauma or obvious decay warrants. X-rays are encouraged for the dentist to be provided with all information possible. They also can help in determining whether or not orthodontic consultation is necessary.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol found in most plant material, including many fruits and vegetables. It is extracted from birch wood to make medicine. Xylitol is widely used as a sugar substitute and in "sugar-free" chewing gums, mints, and other candies. Xylitol is added to different oral products like chewing gum, mints, toothpaste, oral rinses and infant tooth gel. Clinical studies show that products rich in xylitol can reduce cavities up to 80%. Xylitol is safe for all ages. As bacteria ingests xylitol, they lose their ability to stick to teeth and oral tissues. This reduces the formation of plaque which decreases potential for tooth decay. Consider using xylitol products today!