Preventative Care

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What is Preventive Dental Care?

Preventive dentistry is dental care that helps maintain good oral health. It’s a combination of regular dental check-ups along with developing good habits like brushing and flossing. Taking care of your teeth starts early in childhood and extends throughout the course of your life. The American Dental Association recommends regular dental exams and cleanings for all children by their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts. These important appointments allow Dr. Abarca the opportunity to evaluate your child’s dental health and provide important preventive treatments, like sealants and fluoride.

What to Expect at Your Child's Dental Visit

As part of your child's dental checkup Dr. Abarca will make sure all teeth are developing normally, that there are no dental problems and give you further advice on proper hygiene. He may also apply a topical fluoride solution to provide extra protection against cavities.

Fluoride Treatments

Even if you’re already using fluoride toothpaste with your child, it may not be enough to protect your child’s teeth. Every day, teeth lose some of their enamel coating. The mineral, fluoride, helps strengthen enamel, and it can even reverse early damage to teeth. Fluoride is so important to the health of your teeth that it’s often added to municipal water supplies.

But fluoride toothpaste and tap water alone may not be enough to ward off early childhood cavities. Numerous studies demonstrate the significant role fluoride treatments from the dentist play in preventing damaging tooth decay. And early fluoride treatments can help keep permanent teeth safe as well.

If your tap water isn’t fluoridated or if your child is at high risk for developing tooth decay due to lifestyle or health factors, fluoride treatments are especially important.

Sealants

Sealants are a thin coating applied by Dr. Abarca to fill in the difficult-to-reach nooks and grooves of your child’s back molars, where more than 90% of cavities occur. This important treatment helps prevent cavities from forming, ensuring better overall oral health for years to come. Sealants are a pain-free treatment, and they take only minutes to apply.

According to the CDC, sealants are effective in preventing more than 80% of cavities. Dr. Abarca can apply sealants early, usually by age 6 when molars erupt. He can also apply sealants to their adult molars once the baby molars fall out.


Regular Professional Exams and Cleanings

Even though it’s easy to think your baby or young child doesn’t need regular dental exams and cleanings because they only have a few teeth, scheduling and keeping dentist appointments for your child is one of the most important preventive steps you can take to help ensure your child’s optimal oral health.

The American Dental Association recommends regular dental exams and cleanings for all children by their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts. These important appointments allow Dr. Abarca the opportunity to evaluate your child’s dental health and provide important preventive treatments, like sealants and fluoride.

How Can Parents Keep Baby Teeth Clean?

Use a clean, damp washcloth, a gauze pad, or a finger brush to gently wipe clean the first teeth and the front of the tongue, after meals and at bedtime. Pediatric dentists prefer you use toothbrushes moistened with water and no more than a rice-grain size smear of fluoride toothpaste.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay


Also known as Early Childhood Caries or Nursing Caries, Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by over exposure to sugary liquids. It is usually caused by putting a baby to bed with a bottle containing milk, juice, or pop, nursing babies on demand through the night, or allowing toddlers to graze with a sippy cup. This condition often destroys primary teeth, creating a need for major dental treatment. In addition, it will eventually damage your child’s permanent teeth if left untreated.

You can prevent this by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, breast milk, fruit juices, or any sweetened liquids.

  • Never give your baby a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey.

  • Only allow water in bottles and sippy cups used for grazing.

  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad after each feeding, and begin brushing with water as soon as the first tooth appears.

  • Encourage children to drink from a regular cup by their first birthday.

Is it Important to use Dental Floss?

Brushing your teeth effectively removes plaque and food particles from tooth surfaces, but can’t properly clean the hard-to-reach areas between them. This leaves these areas highly susceptible to decay and periodontal disease (gum disease). Daily flossing corrects this problem by cleaning between the teeth and under the gum line, disrupting the build up of plaque colonies and helping to prevent damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

Plaque is an invisible film of living bacteria combined with food debris and saliva. It produces the toxins that cause cavities and irritate the gums. When left in place, it hardens and turns into tartar (known as calculus) which further irritates and inflames the gums while slowly eating away at the dental bone structure, marking the beginning of periodontal disease.


How to Floss Your Child's Teeth Properly

  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss free between them.

  • Using the thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert it between the teeth and slide it back and forth in a sawing motion.

  • Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.


For those who might struggle with this process, we recommend floss holders.

Does Thumb Sucking Affect Dental Health?

Thumb sucking is normal for infants and will have no negative effect on their dentition as most children stop doing it by age 2. Discourage thumb sucking after age 4 as it can create crowded, crooked teeth and bite problems. If needed, we can suggest ways to break the habit.
 

  • Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, breast milk, fruit juices, or any sweetened liquids.

  • Never give your baby a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey.

  • Only allow water in bottles and sippy cups used for grazing.

  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad after each feeding, and begin brushing with water as soon as the first tooth appears.

  • Encourage children to drink from a regular cup by their first birthday.