What Can Parents Do to Protect Their Children’s Teeth?
Trying to get your young children to have good oral hygiene may be a losing battle. After all, many young kids are picky eaters, and would rather have dessert than the nutritious meal you labored over. And in an attempt to avoid fluorosis–or tooth discoloration–parents may be unsure of how much toothpaste is appropriate to help keep their kids’ teeth clean.
A recent article by Lori Roniger explores these oral health challenges with kids from Utah. Although the recommendations in the article were for Utah families, they’re very applicable to any parent:
We know oral health diseases are largely preventable, yet we are moving in the wrong direction,” noted Shaheen Hossain, PhD, the primary author of the report, in a statement. “Along with increasing the access to needed services, we still need to educate parents on the importance of oral hygiene, nutritious diets with fewer sugary beverages, and getting routine dental care . . .
They recommended several strategies to improve the oral health of children in Utah:
- Increasing access to dental insurance and care
- Enhancing the public’s understanding of the importance of oral health and its benefits to overall health and quality of life
- Improving coverage by educating families about Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, and other dental insurance
- Expanding access to community water fluoridation
- Expanding school-based caries prevention activities, such as fluoride varnish and sealant programs in elementary schools
- Providing better incentives and reimbursements to dental practitioners who see low-income people
- Focus on closing the dental care access gap by increasing awareness of existing community resources
As you can see, one of the recommendations is a school-based sealant program. But even if your child doesn’t have this kind of program, you can still look into it since it is a common pediatric dentistry service. If you’ve never heard of sealants before, they are plastic coatings that the dentist paints on to the grooves of the enamel. They can be applied in under a half an hour, and they create a barrier that can help your child stave off cavities.
Delta Dental goes into more details as to why sealants are a great idea:
Cavities are the most common chronic disease among children and that untreated decay affects 19.5% of 2- to 5-year-olds and 22.9% of 6- to 19-year-olds.
Luckily there are sealants, which can reduce childhood tooth decay by more than 70%. A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that prevents food and bacteria from getting stuck in the grooves and pits of molars and premolars.
It’s recommended children get sealants once they get their permanent teeth. Here are 3 reasons why:
1. Extra Protection
Children are just learning about dental hygiene and may not be properly removing food and plaque from every nook and cranny. Sealants will provide extra protection during these cavity-prone years.
2. Easy and Painless
If your child gets nervous at the dentist, rest assured that sealants are a painless and quick procedure. There are no needles and no drills, and the whole process takes 15 minutes on average.
3. Long Lasting
Sealants can last for up to 10 years! Make sure to periodically check in with your dentist to ensure that your child’s sealants are still intact and don’t have any chips or cracks.
No parent wants to spend money on extraneous procedures, but this truly is a needed one since cavities are so prevalent in children and since it can reduce decay by more than 70%! While fillings can certainly be used to repair cavities, they aren’t as strong as the original enamel structures.
Plus, fillings and other restorative dentistry isn’t as ideal as preventative dentistry options like sealants. So be sure to talk with your dentist about this option and how to make it work within your family’s budget.