Preventative Care for Children

Dental X-Rays

Dental x-rays are an essential part of your child’s dental check-up. X-rays provide us with important information about the health of our teeth, mouth, and surrounding jawbone that isn’t visible with the naked eye. With x-rays, our team can detect problems early and avoid extensive treatment in the future.

Most dental diseases are progressive, and will continue to get worse over time if left untreated. Dental x-rays allow us to see between the teeth where plaque collects when we aren’t flossing enough. When plaque collects over time, our tooth enamel is weakened. This causes cavities. X-rays help us spot these cavities before they become large and treat them while still small.

Dental x-rays are also useful in finding teeth that haven’t yet erupted inside the mouth. When your child is “missing” a tooth at an age it would normally be present, x-rays help determine whether the tooth is simply behind schedule, unable to erupt or completely absent from the jaw. All teeth are important to help children speak and chew properly!

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride is one of the most effective agents in strengthening our teeth. Fluoride treatments combined with brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, eating balanced meals, and reducing sugar intake all help prevent tooth decay.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally present in almost all foods and water.

How Does Fluoride Work?

Systemic fluoride strengthens teeth that have erupted as well as those that have not. This is ideal for children who are still developing their teeth. We get this type of fluoride from the foods we eat and drink. Ask our team at your child’s next visit for fluoride recommendations based on age and diet.

Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth making them more resistant to decay. Topical fluoride comes from using fluoride-containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Fluoride varnish treatments can also be applied to your child’s teeth during their routine hygiene visits.

Why Are Fluoride Treatments Necessary?

Sometimes patients are not getting enough fluoride exposure to ensure their teeth are protected. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Sensitive tooth and root surfaces
  • High sugar and carbohydrate diet
  • Low exposure to fluoride
  • History of tooth decay
  • Low saliva flow as a result of medication or a medical condition

Remember, good home oral hygiene is vital to maintaining your overall oral health. Visiting us at least twice a year will help keep your child’s mouth and teeth in optimal health and can reduce the need for more advanced treatment.

Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are one of the most effective ways we can prevent cavities from forming on our children’s teeth. Sealants protect the vulnerable nooks and crannies of back teeth, helping to lessen the build-up of food and plaque from causing severe tooth decay. Sealants reduce the risk of cavities on permanent molars by 80%, according to the American Dental Association.

What Are Dental Sealants?

A dental sealant is a thin coating applied to premolars and molars. This smooth seal is applied over the deep grooves in the chewing surface of the teeth. The sealant is made of plastic or a resin-based material and is nearly invisible to the naked eye. In fact, sealants are so thin your child likely won’t feel a difference either.

How Are Sealants Applied?

The process of applying dental sealants is quick and painless. First, we clean off the teeth where the sealant is being applied. After the teeth have been dried off, we put a solution on the teeth that will help the sealant bond to them. Our team will paint a thin layer of sealant over each tooth being treated, which will bond with the tooth enamel.

It’s important to get the sealant application dried quickly, especially with kids who tend to squirm in the chair. We use a curing light that speeds up the drying process so it generally takes less than a minute.

The sealant hardens and forms a protective barrier between teeth and bacteria. The entire dental sealants procedure takes just a few minutes, but sealants can last on our teeth for up to 10 years!

During your child’s regular dental checkup, we will check their sealants for chips or wear chips.

Dental Sealants for Children

Dental sealants are commonly applied to children’s teeth for these three main reasons:

  • Fissures and pits are more likely to develop on children’s molars and premolars.
  • Kids need extra protection against cavities until they can build a healthy tooth-brushing technique and routine.
  • Sealants work best when they are applied to a tooth’s surface as soon as the tooth erupts.
  • Dentists generally recommend sealants be first applied to teeth from ages 4 to 15 years. These are the years when kids are most likely to get cavities. However, in rare cases, they may recommend tooth sealants for baby teeth if a child is prone to cavities.

Dental Sealants and Dental Hygiene

It’s important to remember that while sealants do offer protection from cavities, they are not substitutes for brushing or flossing. Children with dental sealants should continue with their regular dental hygiene routine of brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily.

Children should also continue to take in fluoride through municipal drinking water or fluoride treatments provided in our office. While sealants do provide great protection, fluoride strengthens teeth and helps ward off cavities too, so it’s best to use both measures together.

Sealants are an excellent way to prevent cavities. The American Dental Association says adding a sealant to a tooth can reduce the occurrence of cavities by 86 percent in the first year! Over a four-year period, the risk of cavities declines by 58 percent. Over a full decade, says the ADA, the success rate grows to up to 90 percent. That’s a powerful argument for getting sealants.

Tooth Decay Prevention

Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger or covering it). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.
Group photo of a pediatric dental team in Austin, Texas

Our team has delivered outstanding pediatric dental care in North Austin for over 30 years. We are committed to providing our community with safe, gentle, high-quality dental care.

Questions or Concerns?

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your dental care, we are more than happy to discuss how you can achieve a beautiful and healthy smile.

As a top pediatric dentist in North Austin, we have helped hundreds of families achieve their oral health goals and are eager to help you and your family do the same.