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Children’s Preventative Dentistry: Growing Strong Smiles

(Content updated June 2023)
Is there anything better than a child’s smile? We don’t think so! From gummy baby grins to gap-toothed second grade smiles, nothing brings as much joy to a room as the smile on a joyful kiddo! To help protect these precious teeth as they grow, we at Affiliated Dentists in Madison, Wisconsin offer a wide range of children’s preventative dentistry services to stop decay and other dental issues before they even start.
  • Get a Strong Start with Tooth-Healthy Habits and Guidance
  • Stay Squeaky Clean with Regular Check-ups and Exams
  • Fortify Enamel with Fluoride and Sealants
  • Keep an Eye on Tooth Development

Get a Strong Start with Tooth-Healthy Habits and Guidance

Is your baby’s first tooth poking through? Believe it or not, it’s time to see the dentist! As part of children’s preventative dentistry, your child’s dentist will support you by giving guidance on teething, tooth-friendly feeding, tooth brushing, and thumb sucking to ensure your child’s teeth are kept healthy and clean as he or she grows. The dental team will demonstrate the correct way to brush your child’s teeth and help problem-solve any issues you might have. They will also show you and your child how to floss between the teeth. Flossing should begin as early as two teeth start to touch. Learn more about Teaching Proper Dental Care.
Your little one’s dentist is an important part of his or her care team and your support system. Early intervention can help prevent more serious tooth decay and gum issues. By establishing healthy habits now, you can set your child up for a lifetime of great dental health and happy trips to the dentist. Bonus: Having your child get used to visiting the dentist early on and regularly will help reduce any future anxiety he or she might have about dental appointments.

Stay Squeaky Clean with Regular Check-ups and Exams

Another important part of children’s preventative dental care are regular teeth cleanings and oral exams. While the American Dental Association recommends that a child visit a dentist by one year of age, it’s never too late to get your child started on proper dental care. These cleanings, which usually are every six months, are essential for preventing cavities, which may be more common than you think. (The CDC reports that over half of children ages 6 to 8 have had a cavity!) At these cleanings, decay-causing plaque is removed from the surface of your child’s teeth. It’s not unusual for children, especially little ones, to miss spots when brushing.
Regular professional cleanings ensure that areas aren’t routinely overlooked, which could develop into larger issues of cavities or gingivitis. Oral exams by the dentist are critical in spotting problems before they become bigger or costlier. Your dentist can also help identify other health issues that may be negatively impacting your child’s dental health.

How can I prepare my child for his first dental check-up?

  • Time it right: Consider choosing a morning appointment for your child when he’s rested and at his best.
  • Prepare your child: Talk to preschoolers and older children about who dentists are, what they do, and why it’s important they care for our teeth. You can mention that he will get a new toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, which may be a fun prize he’ll look forward to receiving.
  • Act it out: Spend a little time role playing what will happen at the dentist’s office. Your child can practice opening wide while you count his teeth.
  • Watch a video: Seeing an example of what happens at the dentist may also help relieve some fears. There are many videos online that walk you and your child through the steps of a dental visit.
  • During the appointment: At a child’s first visit, an exam of the teeth, gums, bite, and jaw may be conducted. Your child might also have a gentle cleaning done. Babies and toddlers can sit in their parents’ laps for these exams and cleanings. Older children will need to sit in the dentist’s chair.

Fortify Enamel with Fluoride and Sealants

Early dental visits are so important because they help prevent cavities before they form. At these appointments, children receive regular topical fluoride treatments, which are an easy, low-cost way to prevent cavities. During the fluoride treatment, a topical fluoride is applied to the surfaces of your child’s teeth, which makes the tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to decay.
Once the back teeth erupt in older children, regular dental visits will include having dental sealants placed on the back teeth. Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to prevent tooth decay. The coating adheres to the depressions on the top of the teeth, preventing bacteria from penetrating the surface of the tooth.
Sealants have been proven to be one hundred percent effective in protecting teeth from cavities when correctly applied and intact. Sealants are extra protection for your teeth for when brushing and flossing fail to remove food and plaque from the teeth.

Keep an Eye on Tooth Development

Another important preventative measure in pediatric dentistry is tracking tooth and jaw development through routine x-rays. Your dentist will be able to spot any tooth development anomalies or future orthodontic issues your child may face down the road and refer to an orthodontic specialist. Early orthodontic intervention in some instances can reduce the time and money spent on tooth and jaw alignment. Your dentist will also fit your child for a mouth guard to protect developing teeth from the impact of youth sports.

What if my child is experiencing tooth pain?

If your child is experiencing tooth pain, your child should also come in to be seen by the dentist, even if it’s sooner than his or her sixth month checkup. Tooth pain can be a sign of serious decay or a damaged tooth. Putting off a trip to the dentist could allow decay to spread to other teeth or further damage tissues surrounding the tooth.

Children’s Preventative Dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin

Affiliated Dentists offers general and pediatric dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin. Our team can help you get your child’s smile off to a strong start! Schedule an appointment today.

Growing Strong Smiles: Children’s Preventative Dentistry brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson

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