A preventive program is a cooperative effort by the patient, parent, pediatric dentist, and dental staff to preserve the natural dentition and supporting structures by preventing the onset, progress, and recurrence of dental diseases and conditions.
Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. It is continued in the dental office by the efforts of your dentist and dental hygienist to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health.
Prevention also includes regular dental exams, cleanings, and x-rays. Sealants and fluoride are also great preventive treatments that help protect the teeth.
Prevention helps avoid serious and costly dental problems and is the key to having a healthy, confident, beautiful smile.
Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.
Fissure Sealants are a varnish applied to children’s teeth to prevent decay developing in the deep grooves of the back molars. These grooves can be deep and narrow, making them difficult to clean effectively, even with a child’s toothbrush.
To combat this, a pit and fissure sealant is applied to the back teeth to fill the grooves. Like a nail polish, it is applied as a sticky liquid that penetrates into the groove where the toothbrush bristles can not reach. The sealant then sets hard after a few minutes. This fills the groove and creates a protective barrier against plaque and bacteria and makes it easier to clean.
Just as applying nail polish is painless, so to is the application of a fissure sealant. It takes about five minutes per tooth to apply.
The ideal time to have sealants applied is immediately following the eruption of the first permanent molars, around age six and then subsequently after the second permanent adult premolars come through, between the ages of eleven and thirteen. However, there may be occasions when baby molars require dental sealants if there is an indication of them developing tooth decay.