Our practice can provide a wide range of dental services for your children. Our flexibility in our services saves you time and keeps your total dental care within one practice. Our emphasis is on total preventive care for our patients. Total care begins with regular hygiene visits, regular check-ups and continued home oral health routines.
We provide many preventative measures to keep your child’s teeth clean and healthy, including sealants and fluoride treatments. We also educate the parents in early detection of some common problems children may face including thumb sucking, and baby bottle tooth decay.
Our primary goal for your child’s dental development is to achieve and maintain optimum oral health through advances in techniques, technologies and by maintaining their scheduled dental exams.
The Science of Dental Decay
Streptococcus mutans is an agent of destruction for healthy teeth because it converts sugar into enamel-eating, decay-causing acid.
In the 1940s and 1950s, dental decay was widespread in the U.S. During a regular dentist visit, the question wasn’t whether you had a cavity or not, but how many cavities did you have?
Scientists and dentists, in the past, knew that cavities were caused from plaque but didn’t know how to manage its negative effects on the teeth. This is where the “drill and fill” method of dental care began. While this treatment method is still needed today, we know more about dental decay and can prevent its occurrence.
Decay is caused by specific bacteria called Mutans Streptococci (MS) and is an infectious disease with a cavity being the last step of the process. Through extensive research, we have discovered decay is caused by many factors and is reversible in the early stages. Sugar, saliva and fluoride levels are considered as well as past medical and dental history. Children between the ages of 6 months and 30 months may become infected by salivary exchange of their caretakers. It is medically and financially effective to diagnose those patients who are at greater risk and develop a preventive plan.
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Drinking fluoridated water and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities.
Prophylaxis, or Cleaning, with the Use of Fluoride
The purpose of cleaning your child’s teeth is to remove plaque, tartar, and stains. The prescription toothpaste used is abrasive and microscopically removes the outside layer of the teeth knows as the pellicle. Following the removal of the enamel pellicle, a prescription fluoride treatment is applied. The surface of the tooth after cleaning is exposed, and the fluoride binds to the surface making the tooth harder and more resistant to decay. The advantage of the “fluoride” treatment is that in addition to it making the tooth harder and more resistant to decay, it also makes it more difficult for the decay-causing bacteria to stick to the tooth surface. Long term benefits of fluoride treatments can last 3-6 months. Clinical trials confirm the anti-caries effect (prevention of dental decay) of professional topical fluoride treatments are highly effective. Fluoride can prevent or reverse enamel demineralization (beginning of a cavity). A dental cleaning without the application of fluoride does not aid your child in the prevention of decay. Insurance companies may pay for fluoride only once a year thus some choose to only have the treatments done based on insurance coverage. Insurance companies do not make decisions based on what is best for their patients; their coverage is based on their economic formula and the employer who purchased the plan.
The early stages of dental decay when caught early can be reversible. Decay is an ongoing process which, if not altered, will result in cavities. Until the point of cavitation, dental intervention is possible. Antimicrobial treatment (similar to an antibiotic for the mouth) is used to reduce the amount of toxic bacteria present. Currently, the drug of choice is prescription fluoride in gel, paste or in the form of varnish. Fluoride varnish was first used in Germany in 1964 and was introduced to the U.S. in 1991. Studies done in the past 30 years have proven as much as a 75 percent reduction in dental decay when fluoride varnish is used.
Orthodontic Need for Fluoride Varnish
Orthodontic patients are at an increased risk for demineralization (the first step of the decay process). When plaque acid strips the calcium from the tooth, white spot lesions are the result. Fifty percent of all patients with orthodontics have some permanent white spotting on their teeth that are more obvious when the braces are removed. Fluoride varnish can prevent spotting of the teeth for those patients and reduce their overall susceptibility for decay.
Fluoride Varnish Application
The teeth are dried and varnish is applied to the tooth surface with a small paintbrush. After the application, a film remains on the teeth until the next day when the patient can brush and remove the residue. The desired result is a decrease in the rate of new cavities and/or cavity reversal.
After the application of Cavity Shield, your child will feel a coating and may notice a thick sticky substance while the varnish remains on their teeth. To obtain the maximum benefit during the 4-6 hour treatment period, we ask that you take the following care when you leave our office.
- If possible, wait until the next morning to resume normal hygiene.
- Eat a soft food diet during the treatment period.
- Avoid hot drinks and products containing alcohol.
- A thorough brushing and flossing will easily remove any remaining Cavity Shield. Your teeth will return to the same shine and brightness as before treatment.
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. In most instances the bristles on the toothbrush are larger than the grooves they need to clean thus acid and plaque remain even after a thorough brushing. The bacteria that remains then breaks down the tooth enamel causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.
Sealants protect these susceptible areas by covering the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars, and areas prone to cavities. While sealants are highly effective, they are not a panacea for NO decay. The patient is still responsible for good oral hygiene and sealants need to be evaluated routinely so that they may be touched up from time to time.