How often should a child see the dentist?
A dental check-up is recommended at least twice a year for most children. Some children need more frequent dental visits because of increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns, poor oral hygiene or because the caries risk runs in the family.
Parents should be aware that cavities could occur even as early as 18 months and especially affect the upper front teeth, making a visit to the dentist necessary.
Is my child at risk for Dental Decay?
Children are at a greater risk for cavities if he or she eats a lot of sugary foods (such as biscuits, cookies and candy) and drink a lot of sweet liquids (aerated beverages, fruit juices and sweetened drinks).
Other risk factors:
- if the child was born early (prematurely) or weighed very little at birth (low birthweight)
- if the child has ongoing special health care needs
- if the child does not brush at night
- if the child has white spots or brown areas on any teeth
- if the child does not go to the dentist very often
How does fluoride help in prevention of cavities?
Fluoride is an element, which strengthens teeth and resists cavities. Fluoride is available to your child through toothpastes, mouthwashes and tablets.
Between ages 2- 5 years, low fluoride toothpastes are recommended (450-500ppm) and only a rice grain or pea size amount is placed on the toothbrush.
Once a child is comfortable spitting out all the toothpaste after brushing then a regular adult toothpaste containing 1000ppm fluoride maybe used (when over 6 years).
Mouthwashes containing Fluoride (0.05ppm) should be used in children who are 7 years and older only.
Fluoride supplements (tablets/drops) maybe given to those children living in areas where the fluoride content of the local water is less than 0.3ppm (for example, Mumbai).
These fluoride tablets should be started at 24 months and given upto 8-9 years. The fluoride gets incorporated in the enamel matrix of the developing permanent tooth, thereby making the tooth inherently stronger.
In addition to the above, a biannual application of fluoride gel or varnish applied on the teeth by the pediatric dentist is universally recommended. The fluoride is at a higher concentration and is beneficial in making the teeth resistant to decay. This has helped in reducing decay rates worldwide by almost 50-60%
What are Pit and Fissure Sealants? How do they help in prevention of cavities?
A sealant is a clear or shaded resin material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where four out of five cavities in children are found. This sealant acts as a mechanical barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth.
Application process is usually quick, non- invasive and takes only a few minutes. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a special solution and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard by shining a blue light onto it. Sealants are a recommended and time-tested deterrent for cavities in young children.