Dental cavities are very common among children, but they don’t have to be. There are many ways that you can help your child avoid cavities. Demonstrating proper brushing technique and a good dental care routine for your child is important, but that alone may not be enough to prevent cavities from forming so it can be a good idea to talk with your dentist about how sealants protect your child’s teeth and whether they are a good option for your child.
What are Cavities?
Let’s start by discussing what cavities are and why we want to avoid them. Cavities are small holes that form in the enamel, or outer layer, of a tooth. Cavities can expose the inner layers, including the root or pulp of the tooth, to further decay and infection. If left untreated, cavities can cause serious problems including premature tooth loss, but fortunately they are easily treatable as well as preventable if the tooth decay is caught early enough.
How Common are Cavities in Children?
Dental cavities are the most common infectious disease in children. In fact, there’s a special term for when a child has one or more decayed, missing or filled primary teeth called Early Childhood Caries or ECC. Early childhood caries or cavities is an outstanding public health problem in many populations.
Cavities can be best avoided by a combination of preventative approaches including brushing after each meal with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride. This also includes being aware that foods and drinks that are high in sugar should be consumed in moderation. Common foods and drinks that can lead to cavities include sodas, juices with added sugars, candy, desserts and anything that tends to stick to teeth or leave behind a sugary residue.
How Dental Sealants Help
Dental sealants are a thin plastic coating that is painted onto the chewing surface of a child’s back molars. Sealants can be beneficial for adults and children of all ages, but the most benefit can be achieved by applying them early before tooth decay has a chance to start.
How sealants protect your child’s teeth is by providing an extra protective layer where their teeth are most prone to collecting food particles and plaque and therefore developing cavities. This approach has been shown to reduce cavities by around 80% in children. In fact, studies show that children without sealants on their molars experience nearly 3 times the cavities of children who have sealants applied.
Make an Appointment with Your Child’s Dentist
If you think your child may benefit from dental sealants, call to make an appointment with their dentist. Their dentist is your best resource for answering additional questions you may have about how sealants protect your child’s teeth and if they are right for your child because they can examine your child’s teeth and assess their cavity risk. When you want the brightest and healthiest future for your child’s teeth, your dentist can be your greatest ally in the fight against cavities.
Call our Gilbert, Mesa or San Tan Valley dental offices to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.