Clinical Frequently Asked Questions
What are sealants?
Tooth sealant refers to a plastic that a dentist bonds into the grooves of the chewing surface of a tooth as a means of helping prevent the formation of tooth decay.
How do sealants work?
In many cases, it is nearly impossible for children to clean the tiny grooves between their teeth. When a sealant is applied, the surface of the tooth is somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.
What is the life expectancy of tooth sealants?
The longevity of sealants varies. Sealants that have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, however, sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants placed during childhood still intact on the teeth of adults. Our office will check your child’s sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Any tooth that shows characteristics of developing decay should be sealed. The most common teeth for a dentist to seal are a child’s back teeth, and of these teeth, the molars are the most common teeth on which dental sealants are placed. The recommendation for sealants should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
What is the procedure for placing sealants?
Generally the procedure takes just one visit. Placing dental sealants can be a very easy process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned, and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth where it is hardened with a special blue light and then buffed. All normal activities can occur directly after the appointment.
How important is brushing and flossing after sealants are applied?
It is just as important for your child to brush and floss their teeth. Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay.
How much does it cost?
This treatment is quite affordable, especially when you consider the value of protection against tooth decay. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants. Check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage.
Sealants protect the depressions and grooves of your teeth from food particles and plaque that brushing and flossing can’t reach.
Easy to apply, sealants take only a few minutes to seal each tooth. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and can last several years before a reapplication is needed.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevents tooth decay. If the water where you live does not have enough fluoride, your doctor may prescribe fluoride supplements (fluoride drops or pills). You would give these drops or pills every day, starting when your child is about six months old. Only give as much as the directions say to use because too much fluoride can cause spots on your child’s teeth. Also, be sure to call your local water authority and ask if your water is fluoridated. If it is, tell your dentist or pediatrician so that your child is not being over fluoridated. Children should take these drops or pills until they are 12 to 16 years old (or until you move to an area with fluoride in the water).
How do I know if my child is getting the appropriate amount of fluoride in their diet?
If you do not reside in a community that has fluoridated water or have the appropriate amount of natural fluoride in your well water, your child will need some sort of supplement in their diet. We can help you determine how much of a supplement your child needs based upon their weight, age, current water fluoride level, and brand of toothpaste.
Diet & Cavity Prevention
What is an appropriate diet for my child?
It is important that your child receives a naturally-balanced diet that includes the important nutrients your child needs in order to grow. A daily diet should includes the major food groups of meat/fish/eggs, vegetable/fruit, bread/cereal as well as milk and other dairy products.
Can my child’s diet affect their dental health?
Absolutely! It is important that you initiate a balanced diet for your child so that their teeth develop appropriately. In addition, this will positively affect healthy gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Please note that a diet high in sugar and other forms of carbohydrates, such as bread & crackers, may increase the probability of tooth decay.
How do I create a diet that is safe for my child’s teeth?
Analyze the frequency in which starch-based foods are eaten. These types of foods include breads, pasta, potato chips, etc. In addition, sugar is found in more than just candy. All types of sugars can promote tooth decay. For example, most milk-based products contain sugar. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a favorite for bagged lunches. Unfortunately, it includes sugar not only in the jelly, but also in the peanut butter. For less sugar and more flavor and nutrients, try replacing jelly with fresh fruit slices (apples, pears, or bananas) or chopped dried fruit. Go easy on the peanut butter, though — it’s high in fat. Choose the “no-salt-added” kind for less sodium.
What is a mouth guard?
A mouth guard is comprised of soft plastic. They come in standard or custom fit to adapt comfortably to the upper teeth.
Why is a mouth guard important?
A mouth guard protects the teeth from possible sport injuries. It does not only protect the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw bone as well. It can contribute to the protection of a child from head and neck injuries such as concussions. Most injuries occur to the mouth and head area when a child is not wearing a mouth guard.
When should my child wear a mouth guard?
It should be worn during any sport-based activity where there is risk of head, face, or neck injury. Such sports include hockey, soccer, karate, basketball, baseball, skating, skateboarding, as well as many other sports. Most oral injuries occur when children play basketball, baseball, and soccer.
How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?
Choose a mouth guard that your child feels is comfortable. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech to any great degree, it is probably not appropriate for your child.
There are many options in mouth guards. Most guards are found in athletic stores. These vary in comfort, protection as well as cost. The least expensive tend to be the least effective in preventing oral injuries. Customized mouth guards can be provided through our practice. They may be a bit more expensive, but they are much more comfortable and shock absorbent.