Prevention is always better than treatment. By actively preventing disease and decay through regular home care, professional dental cleanings and regular exams, you will maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.
In addition, effective prevention can help you avoid costly treatments in the future to remove decay, restore teeth and treat gum disease. Regular prevention is truly your best investment.
Dental examinations help to diagnose disease before it becomes hazardous to your health. In addition, regular examinations can save you money by alleviating problems while they are small and before they become expensive to repair, or in some cases, impossible to repair. Your dental examinations generally include the following:
Professional cleanings (dental prophylaxis) form the foundation for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. In a professional cleaning, your child's dental team will:
Remove plaque from the teeth -- plaque is a sticky substance that forms in the mouth from food, saliva and bacteria. Plaque sticks to teeth and causes tooth decay and gum disease.
Remove calculus (tarter) above the gum line -- calculus is plaque that has hardened on the tooth surface and is difficult to remove. (Calculus below the gum line indicates gum disease and requires a different procedure to remove it.)
Polish and remove stains from teeth.
X-rays (radiographs) are a vital and necessary part of your child's dental diagnostic process. Without them, many dental conditions can and will be missed. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
Our office policy on dental x-rays correlates with the guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Generally x-rays are taken once each year. These annual x-rays detect cavities between the teeth and check on the development of roots and permanent teeth. If we are monitoring a traumatized tooth or a questionable area for decay, x-rays will be taken more frequently.
Beginning at approximately age six, a panoramic x-ray will be recommended. A panoramic film is taken every three years. This important x-ray shows the entire oral cavity including the upper and lower jaws, the tempromandibular joints and sinuses. This allows us to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone disease, evaluate the result of an injury, and plan orthodontic treatment if needed.
Our doctors and licensed staff members are extremely careful to minimize the exposure of your child to radiation. Our office uses high-speed film, lead aprons and modern equipment to filter out unnecessary radiation and restrict the x-ray beam to the area of interest. The risk of dental x-rays is far less than an undetected and untreated dental problem.
Are X-rays safe? Modern dental x-ray machines are very safe. We use only state-of-the-art, low radiation machines. The amount of radiation exposure your body receives on an airplane flight from Los Angeles to New York exceeds the amount of exposure you will receive from a modern dental x-ray machine. Contrast this minimal exposure with the risk of not finding an illness until it is too late, and you can see why we prescribe regular diagnostic x-rays.
Adequate home care is imperative if you want to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile and prevent costly dental treatment in the future. The goal of home care is to regularly remove the sticky film of bacteria called plaque from your teeth.
Elimination of food particles and bacteria from plaque can definitely help reduce tooth decay.
Infants: Cleaning their teeth can be a challenge but is still very important. Using a dampened clean soft cloth, gently wipe the plaque from the tooth and gum area. Doing this after each feeding is an important step in preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.
Toddlers & Adolescents: Brushing with a soft toothbrush twice daily or after every meal is recommended. Adult assistance is suggested for most children under the age of five or six.
In order to remove plaque and food particles in between teeth, where a toothbrush does not reach, flossing is vital. Small flossing devices, which can be purchased at your local grocery store, are made to make flossing less challenging for children. Adult supervision is also recommended until your child develops a proper flossing technique, usually about 7 years old.
Always rinse thoroughly with water after brushing (or after meals if you are unable to brush.) You may occasionally use a mouthwash to rinse. Children may benefit from the use of ACT fluoride rinse, to help prevent cavities from forming in between the teeth. It is not recommended for children to use alcohol based mouth rinses.
To prevent decay, Dr. Baker endorse the use of protective sealants. These are applied to the chewing surfaces of childrens molars. Sealants ensure that food particles and bacteria will not build up in the grooves on the chewing surface of the tooth. To ensure that the surface of the tooth remains protected, sealants may need to be reapplied as needed.
A sealant is a shaded plastic coating that can be painted on the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the pre-molars and molars to prevent tooth decay. Sealants act as a barrier protecting the tooth from food, plaque and acid. However, decay can still form around a sealant or between teeth if not brushed or flossed correctly. Application of sealants is simple and painless. Placement is a three step process:
The tooth surface is thoroughly cleaned with a material called "soap"
Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance that can be used to strengthen your child's teeth and prevent tooth decay.
There are two primary types of fluoride used.