As pediatric dentists, we believe that good oral health in children goes hand in hand with their overall health and well being. Lack of preventative dental care leads to dental disease and is a major factor in children having future oral health issues, with timing being a key factor childrens dental health in promoting a lifetime of healthy teeth. Young Smiles strongly recommends that a childs first dental visit begin at age one to establish a dental home, something that aligns with the recommendations from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), the ADA (American Dental Association), and the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry).
Regular visits to the dental office will reduce the chances that more extensive dental care will be necessary in the future. Not only will your child benefit from important dental cleanings and exams, but it educates parents as well to give them the tools they need to help their children prevent oral health issues between visits. Well-informed parents have the best chance of making this happen. Additionally, the more regularly kids are able to come to the dental office, the more positive and trusting they will be of the dentist and the staff.
Our prevention services include:
- Cleaning and fluoride treatments
- Sealants to protect healthy teeth from decay
- Oral hygiene and preventative home care programs
- Parental instruction for care of infant and toddler teeth
- Simple orthodontic treatments that prevent more complex issues later on
Tooth decay prevention
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity.
Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet control and fluoride treatments. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.
Preventing nursing cavities or "baby-bottle decay"
Breast milk can be an important part of an infants early development. However, "when" feedings are done is important as well. Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or even totally prevented by not allowing infants to breast or bottle feed throughout the night. At night our saliva flow is decreased and the naturally occurring sugars in breast milk or regular milk do not get washed away as easily. Because of this, bacterial activity is increased dramatically and a rapid acceleration of tooth decay can occur. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Damage to baby teeth that involve the nerves can occur in as little as six months, so let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your childs mouth.
The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. This is the most common kind of cavity that occurs in adult teeth.
Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. The sealant material is a composite resin typically applied to the tops of the molars, the back teeth that we use for chewing. It lasts on average for three to five years (sometimes longer), but needs to be checked during regular appointments.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride, and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. In the Bay Area, most communities have fluoride already in the water so we are fortunate in that respect. Keep in mind however, that certain filtration systems can remove this beneficial substance, particularly reverse-osmosis systems. Other more common filtration systems such as charcoal and paper filter systems do not remove fluoride.