Preventive Dental Care

A proactive approach to oral health

The best place to start with preventive dental care with kids is when their teeth first start coming in. This can help prevent serious dental work down the road.

There is no question that the primary method of dental problem prevention in kids is regular flossing and good brushing combined with a healthy diet and fluoride exposure. All four elements contribute to healthy gums, removal of plaque, prevention of latent decay from sugar exposure, and strengthening of new teeth. The number one problem dentists see the most are multiple cavities in children and that comes from lack of care, poor diet, and too much sugar consumption. All three are part of a preventive care strategy and easily doable with very little sacrifice on the part of parents.

Safeguard Your Child's Smile with Regular Cleanings

Many parents are often mistaken in thinking that baby teeth do not require much care because they will eventually fall out, making way for your child's permanent teeth. Baby teeth, however, need to be cared for; they allow your child to chew food comfortably and safely and speak properly. The paths which baby teeth create in the gums will eventually guide a child's permanent teeth into position. Regular cleanings with our professional, experienced, and a gentle pediatric dentist will ensure your child's oral health and proper development.

Scheduling Your Child's Teeth Cleaning Appointment

As infants, toddlers, and children grow and change quickly, we recommend children visit our pediatric dentist for at least two dental checkups and child teeth cleaning appointments per year. This ensures proper care of your child's oral health. Your infant should first see a pediatric dentist when his or her first tooth emerges or by the time of the child's first birthday. If your child experiences any oral pain or you notice any changes or symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an appointment for your child right away to diagnose and address any potential problems at an early stage.

What to Expect During a Child's Teeth Cleaning Appointment

Our dentists and staff recognize that childhood dental appointments will not only affect your child's health but also his or her perception of the dental office for life. We do our best to make dental visits fun and comfortable for your child. During the initial appointment, we work with the parents or guardians to assess your infant, toddler, or child's behavior and comfort level with our staff and office. Our pediatric dentist will evaluate your child's teeth and their progression. If any plaque or tartar buildup is found, we will gently clean your child's teeth. In addition, we will show you and your child the proper way to brush and floss teeth.

Other preventative options:

How Do Dental Sealants Work?
Thankfully, the process is extremely simple for both the dentist and the patient and it only takes a few minutes for each tooth. The whole process begins with a thorough cleaning. The back teeth need to be completely free of any bacteria before the coating goes over them, otherwise, the bacteria will be trapped inside the sealant and rot the tooth over time. After the cleaning, each tooth will receive a priming solution before it gets the sealant. As soon as the solution has dried, the sealant is applied. To help it dry correctly, the dentist may use a special type of light.

When Should You Consider Dental Sealants?
A dental sealant is generally recommended as early as possible. Ideally, it should be as soon as a child’s permanent molars come in. There are children with different levels of risk though, so consult a dentist before you schedule the procedure. Dental sealants last for multiple years, but their life varies from person to person. They will start to wear away eventually and should be checked on from time to time to determine their effectiveness.

What Exactly Is Fluoride Therapy?
Fluoride therapy is a specific process of administering fluoride to promote better dental health. Most people know that fluoride is good for teeth: it fights off tooth decay and promotes good hygiene. But most people aren’t aware of the different types of fluoride, and that they should be getting it from as many different sources as possible. Fluoride is present in toothpaste of course, but it’s also in foods you eat every day like eggs and fish.

How Does Fluoride Therapy Work?
The process requires the dentist to use foam, rinse or gel on the patient’s teeth. These packets go onto a foam tray which can be put over the teeth. Once the patient bites down on the tray, the fluoride is released onto not just the teeth, but also all the crevices inside the mouth (e.g., between the gums, into the pits of each tooth, etc.) It only takes a minute, after which the mouth is suctioned so the patient doesn’t swallow the element. Patients aren’t allowed to eat or drink for about a half-hour after the procedure.

When Should You Consider Fluoride Therapy?
Fluoride therapy is highly recommended for children because it’s critical for their developing adult teeth. It’s most effective when used twice a year on children up until the age of 16. However, adults can also benefit from fluoride because it is so effective at keeping teeth healthy. It’s especially recommended for adults who have dry mouth, gum disease, and frequent cavities. All of these conditions put people at risk for rapid tooth decay. Even people with crowns and braces should consider this treatment. They’re typically more at risk because a small part of the tooth will always be covered (making it more difficult to clean.)

Much of the poor prevention problem has to do with brushing and flossing techniques. Kids frequently just brush laterally, which does little for the food trapped in between the slots of the teeth. And a lack of flossing or not going deep enough also means particles are missed. Instead, kids need to be taught to brush up and down as well as floss between every tooth, not just the front ones. This will heavily reduce trapped food and increase gum line health. Brushing in the morning and at night also reduces latent damage from sugar sitting overnight creating acids on the teeth enamel and provides significant preventive care one can easily perform at home.

A Bit Of Work Now Means A Lifetime Of Benefits

Kids who learn early how to brush right and floss regularly will carry the same habits over to their adult teeth and older years, making most of their dental visits about preventive care versus repair. That can mean maintaining their natural teeth longer, potentially avoiding gum disease damage, and having a healthier dental condition longer in life. Simple reinforcement of key practices has tremendous, long-lasting positive outcomes that have been statistically proven again and again.

Maintain Good Habits During The Adolescence Years

There is evidence that demonstrates how periodontal disease may increase during adolescence due to a lack of motivation to practice oral hygiene. Children who maintain good oral health habits up until the teen years are more likely to continue brushing and flossing than children who were not taught proper oral care.

Advice For Parents

Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of periodontal diseases. Therefore, it is important that children receive a periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits. Be aware that if your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, this may be an early sign of systemic disease. A general medical evaluation should be considered for children who exhibit severe periodontitis, especially if it appears resistant to therapy.

An important step in the fight against periodontal disease is to establish good oral health habits with your child early. When your child is about a year old, you can begin using toothpaste when brushing their teeth. However, only use a pea-sized portion on the brush and press it into the bristles so your child won’t eat it. And, when the gaps between your child’s teeth close, it’s important to start flossing.

Serve as a good role model by practicing good oral health care habits and schedule regular dental visits for family check-ups, periodontal evaluations, and cleanings.

Check your child’s mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth, and bad breath.

If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work with your child to change these now. It’s much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult. Since your child models behavior after you, it follows that you should serve as a positive role model in your oral hygiene habits. A healthy smile, good breath, and strong teeth all contribute to a young person’s sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem.

Get in Touch!

703-719-5828

4210 Fairfax Corner Avenue West, Suite 245, Fairfax, VA 22030

1984 Isaac Newton Square West, Suite 200, Reston, VA 20190

6564 Loisdale Court, Suite 110, Springfield, VA 22150

Are you in Fredericksburg? Visit our sister practice, ClearCare Dental!
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