Whether young, old, or somewhere in between, preventative dental care is important to maintaining good oral health. Mountain West Dental Specialists is committed to creating healthy smiles throughout Las Vegas, and a big part of that is providing preventative care for children in our community! The healthiest smiles begin at home, but we know that it can sometimes be challenging to help your child maintain a healthy mouth. We’re here to help simplify that process as much as possible! Keep reading below to learn more about what’s included in preventative dentistry and how it can keep your child’s smile bright and healthy as they grow.
Helping your child develop healthy oral habits will reduce their risk of developing tooth decay and cavities. Get the process started early by introducing them to a dental hygiene routine that includes:
- brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time
- flossing every night before bed
- dental checkups twice a year
- a healthy diet with minimal sugar
- fluoride treatments
If your child is under three years old, they’ll need a little help to clean their teeth properly. This can be accomplished with water, toddler-safe toothpaste, and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Older children can brush on their own with parental supervision. We encourage this since it helps kids become more confident in their dental habits! Provide your child with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, then keep an eye on them to ensure they brush thoroughly. You should also make sure they spit any excess toothpaste out rather than swallow it.
Don’t forget flossing! Before bedtime, help your child floss their teeth. If they struggle with regular dental floss, tools like floss picks can work well for small hands. These also tend to come in bright colors and various flavors to make flossing more appealing to younger children. Mouthwash is another way to help kill bacteria in your child’s mouth and freshen their breath. There are decay-causing bacteria that like to linger in the spaces where toothbrush bristles can’t reach that floss and mouthwash can help remove.
Regular dental visits
We recommend scheduling your child’s first dental visit once their first teeth appear or by their first birthday. Not only do these visits allow our doctors to monitor their dental development as they grow, but they also give kids a chance to get comfortable with our team and our office. This means we can diagnose and treat potential problems before they become more serious in an environment they’re familiar with.
Your child’s first dental visit with Dr. Keaton and Dr. Tomlin will usually be brief, with little or no treatment involved. They’ll perform a gentle but comprehensive exam, checking the teeth for decay and examining your child’s bite. They’ll also be on the lookout for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, or oral tissues. Once they complete their examination, your child’s dentist will go over several topics with you. These typically include things like:
- how to develop good oral hygiene practices
- the benefits of fluoride
- oral habits to avoid (such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting)
- the developmental milestones and potential issues you should be aware of
- information on teething
- tips on proper nutrition
- when to schedule future dental checkups
We’ll also quickly clean your child’s teeth and apply a fluoride varnish before this initial visit concludes. These checkups are essential for maintaining your child’s oral health! You should plan on scheduling dental checkups with our team every six months or so as they grow. As mentioned above, we’ll examine their mouth, clean their teeth, and apply fluoride at each appointment. These visits also help us get to know the families we serve better and give us the chance to provide expert guidance on how to maintain a healthy smile at home.
Professional teeth cleanings and polishing treatments are typically done during your child’s checkup with us. We use a special paste to remove any plaque and visible staining while polishing the teeth, then perform scaling to remove tartar and any build-up that has accumulated in between visits. These cleanings will also include thorough flossing and an application of fluoride to help protect the teeth from cavities.
Fluoride is an excellent tool for helping a child’s developing teeth to grow strong. It can also prevent tooth decay in older children. Regular use hardens the tooth enamel, making it more difficult for acid to penetrate, and research has shown that frequent fluoride applications dramatically decrease the development of cavities!
Toothpaste and rinses that contain fluoride will not fully protect a child’s teeth. Drinking water is actually the easiest way to get fluoride, but not all areas require their tap water to be fluoridated. If you know that your water supply is not fluoridated or if your child prefers to drink bottled water, you may need to discuss supplements with their primary physician. However, you should check with us before trying fluoride supplements, as overuse can discolor your child’s teeth. During checkups, our doctors will be able to evaluate the fluoride level in your primary water source to determine your child’s individual needs.
Sealants are made from a composite material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, which is where the majority of cavities in children end up forming. The sealants act as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid, protecting the areas of the teeth that are most prone to decay. Sealants are a wonderful tool in preventative care, and we often recommend them for permanent teeth to keep them free from decay! Sealants will not protect the areas between the teeth, so cavities can still form there. That means regular brushing and flossing are still necessary, even after sealants have been applied.
Keep your child’s smile happy with Mountain West Dental Specialists
When you trust your child’s smile to MWDS, you can be sure they’ll receive compassionate care from our expert team in a stress-free environment. We’ll help you both understand the basics of oral care, what normal dental development looks like, and how we can help keep your child’s smile healthy and happy as they grow! Dental visits are something to look forward to in our Las Vegas office, so if your child is ready for a checkup, get in touch today and we’ll be happy to schedule it for you.