PREVENTIVE DENTAL CARE

New Leaf Pediatric Dentistry, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), recommends establishing a “Dental Home” for your child by one (1) year of age. Children who have a dental home benefit by receiving appropriate preventive and routine oral health care. We strive to provide a fun and nurturing dental home for your child.

Preventive Dental Care includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Dental Cleanings & Routine Check-Ups
  • Fluoride
  • Dental Sealants
  • Pediatric Dental Appliances – Space Maintainers, Mouth Guards, Thumb Sucking Appliances
  • Digital X-rays
  • Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

DENTAL CLEANINGS & ROUTINE CHECK-UPS

Routine check-ups every six (6) months are important to your child’s oral health.  A check-up allows for early detection of signs of diseases and cavities and if necessary, undertaking appropriate measures of prevention or treatment to maintain good oral health.  Part of a check-up includes a Dental Cleaning which is a professional cleaning to remove the buildup of plaque and tartar.

Plaque left untreated can lead to tooth decay and unhealthy gums.  At New Leaf Pediatric Dentistry, we use the latest dental technologies to provide a thorough examination, and clean areas of your child’s teeth that are difficult  to reach at home.  We also strongly believe in spending the necessary time to provide proper education to both you and your child.

DENTAL SEALANTS

A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where most cavities in children are found. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth. Sealants can be applied to both adult and baby teeth and is a safe, quick and painless way to prevent decay and cavities.  Sealants may last several years before they need to be replaced so we advise to routinely visit your pediatric dentist to assess its condition.

FLUORIDE

Fluorine, a natural element in the fluoride compound, has proven to be effective in minimizing childhood cavities and tooth decay.  Fluoride is a key ingredient in many popular brands of toothpaste, oral gel, and mouthwash, and can also be found in most community water supplies.  Though fluoride is an important part of any good oral care routine, overconsumption can result in a condition known as fluorosis.  The pediatric dentist is able to monitor fluoride levels, and check that children are receiving the appropriate amount.

How can fluoride prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride fulfills two important dental functions.  First, it helps staunch mineral loss from tooth enamel, and second, it promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel.

When carbohydrates (sugars) are consumed, oral bacteria feed on them and produce harmful acids.  These acids attack tooth enamel – especially in children who take medications or produce less saliva.  Repeated acid attacks result in cavities, tooth decay, and childhood periodontal disease.  Fluoride protects tooth enamel from acid attacks and reduces the risk of childhood tooth decay.

Fluoride is especially effective when used as part of a good oral hygiene regimen.  Reducing the consumption of sugary foods, brushing and flossing regularly, and visiting the pediatric dentist biannually, all supplement the work of fluoride and keep young teeth healthy.

How much fluoride is enough?

Since community water supplies and toothpastes usually contain fluoride, it is essential that children do not ingest too much.  For this reason, children under the age of two should use an ADA-approved, non-fluoridated brand of toothpaste.  Children between the ages of two and five years old should use a pea-sized amount of ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste, on a clean toothbrush, twice each day.  They should be encouraged to spit out any extra fluid after brushing.  This part might take time, encouragement, and practice.

The amount of fluoride children ingest between the ages of one and four years old determines whether or not fluorosis occurs later.  The most common symptom of fluorosis is white specks on the permanent teeth.  Children over the age of eight years old are not considered to be at-risk for fluorosis, but should still use an ADA-approved brand of toothpaste.

Does my child need fluoride supplements?

The pediatric dentist is the best person to decide whether a child needs fluoride supplements.  First, the dentist will ask questions in order to determine how much fluoride the child is currently receiving, gain a general health history, and evaluate the sugar content in the child’s diet.  If a child is not receiving enough fluoride and is determined to be at high-risk for tooth decay, an at-home fluoride supplement might be recommended.

Topical fluoride can also be applied to the tooth enamel quickly and painlessly during a regular office visit.  There are many convenient forms of topical fluoride, including foam, liquids, varnishes, and gels.  Depending on the age of the child and their willingness to cooperate, topical fluoride can either be held on the teeth for several minutes in specialized trays or painted on with a brush.

 

PEDIATRIC DENTAL APPLIANCES

Though many parents think of “teenagers” when presented with the term “dental appliances,” the use of such appliances in young children is very common.  Some dental appliances may be recommended for preventative purposes, while others may be recommended for treatment purposes.

It can be extremely difficult to encourage young children to wear removable dental appliances regularly, but there is some good news.  Pediatric dental appliances can prevent injury to the teeth and may also reduce (or even eliminate) the need for extensive treatment later.

Mouth Guards

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and American Dental Association (ADA) recommend that children wear mouth guards when engaging in any potentially injurious activity, including sporting and recreational endeavors.

The pediatric dentist can craft a customized mouth guard for the child, or a thermoplastic “boil-and-bite” mouth guard can be purchased at a sporting goods store.  Similar mouth guards are used for children who “brux” or grind their teeth at night.

Space Maintainers

Sometimes, primary (baby) teeth are lost prematurely due to trauma or decay.  Adjacent teeth tend to shift to fill the space, causing spacing and alignment problems for permanent (adult) teeth.  Space maintainers or “spacers” are inserted as placeholders until the permanent teeth are ready to erupt.  There are two main types of space maintainer: Fixed Space Maintainers or Removable Space Maintainers.

Thumb Sucking Appliances

The majority of children naturally outgrow their thumb-sucking habit.  However, children who continue to thumb suck after the age of five or six (especially vigorously) risk oral complications.  These complications include: narrowed arches, impacted teeth, and misaligned teeth.  The “palatal crib” appliance usually stops thumb sucking immediately.

The “crib” is crafted and affixed to the teeth by the pediatric dentist, almost like a barely visible set of dental braces.  Preventing the thumb from reaching the roof of the mouth reduces gratification – and breaks the habit very quickly.  Removable variations of the “crib” are also available, and can be used depending on the age of the child and his or her willingness to cooperate.

DIGITAL X-RAYS

At New Leaf Pediatric Dentistry, we use the latest and most advanced dental technology to provide your child with safe and convenient dental care.  This includes the use of digital x-rays which offers several advantages over traditional x-rays.

  • Safer for your child’s health – digital x-rays use up to 90% less radiation
  • Quick and comfortable
  • Digital delivery for easy transferability
  • Digitally enhanced and instantly viewable images
  • Greater image versatility
  • Digital stored and available upon request

SILVER DIAMINE FLUORIDE (SDF)

New Leaf Pediatric Dentistry offers Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) as an alternative treatment method for toddlers and young children with cavities. Also known as the “Magic Bullet”, SDF is commonly used in Europe and Asia, and is now approved for use in the US. SDF provides a safe and non-invasive method to prevent cavities from progressing, and, in some cases, may be used in lieu of sedation or general anesthesia.

The primary purpose of SDF is to stop cavities from progressing. SDF is not intended for tooth restoration.

SDF is safe for toddlers and children and can be utilized as a holdover medicament to delay treatment until the child is old enough and ready to receive dental treatment.

If you believe your young child may have cavities and he or she is not yet ready to receive regular dental treatment such as fillings, please feel free to reach out to Dr. Cherish Im to learn more about Silver Diamine Fluoride.

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