Your guide to family events, stories and news in Western Wisconsin.

When Should Children Have Their First Dental Visit?

Before the rest of the information, it is important that you keep your teeth clean starting in pregnancy. Decay is passed from the main caregiver to the child. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and other experts recommend a first visit by age 1.

What should you expect to happen at the visit?

• Expect some crying. It’s a new experience, and it is normal for children to cry.

• A review of concerns of the parent.

• Hygiene instructions.

• Review of fluoride use, both topical and systemic.

• Cavity check. Yes, 1-year-olds do get cavities.

• Discussion of feeding issues (bottle, breast, and snacks).

What should parents do before the first visit?

• Work with your child about opening and showing his or her teeth. Be persistent and consistent. This should start with cleaning gums before teeth erupt and brushing when they do erupt.

• Be positive. If you have issues with going to the dentist, have your spouse or a grandparent bring your child.

• Read books about visiting the dentist. The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist is good.

How often do children need to visit the dentist?

Every six months is normal due to the rapid development. Different things happen as the child grows and develops. They get used to the office. They get more teeth. Teeth get closer together. Children become more cooperative.

What happens if my child gets cavities?

Options depend on number, location, and severity. Postposing with daily topical fluoride applications, removing decay with hand instruments and a fluoride releasing filling being placed, or if more involved sedation or general anesthesia in the hospital.

The key is starting early. Be positive: It’s a lifelong journey, not a single visit.

Fluoride Varnish Makes Protecting Kids' Teeth Easier

Topical fluoride can be applied by your dentist’s office in two ways: as a gel (which is the more traditional method) or as a varnish. Topical fluoride varnish is relatively new in the United States, but it has been commonly used in other parts of the world. Basically, the varnish is a coating that is “painted” on the enamel of teeth, and it allows the fluoride to be absorbed. It is generally applied at a routine dental cleaning appointment, and it is especially useful for young kids and kids who have difficulty with the traditional fluoride trays.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, “using fluoride for the prevention and control of cavities is documented to be both safe and highly effective.” Fluoride varnish has made this useful tool easier to apply to the teeth of young kids. Fluoride varnish sets quickly, is easy to apply, and adheres to the teeth for a longer period. Next time your young children are at the dentist, ask about fluoride varnish.

Preventing Cavities with dental sealants

The pits in your kids’ back teeth are  hard to clean. Sealants can help.

Kids can grow up cavity free. Helping our patients achieve a cavity free smile is a huge part of our in-office prevention program. We are devoted to helping our patients develop good dental habits to promote good oral health.

Dental sealants are an important tool in helping prevent cavities in your kids’ teeth. One of the most common places that tooth decay develops is on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These teeth have deep grooves called pits and fissures. These grooves help us chew our food but also make cleaning those teeth difficult.

A dental sealant is made of a tooth-colored resin that is placed in these grooves and acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acid. Sealants can be placed in one easy appointment. We use an Air Abrasion system to remove all debris from the grooves to ensure maximum bonding to the tooth.

Sealants are a cost-effective and easy procedure to boost your child’s goal of a cavity-free smile.

Treating and Avoiding Dental Injuries

Summer is a very active time for kids, and kids plus activity can equal injuries small and large. Falls from bikes, skateboards, and rollerblades can lead to dental injuries – trauma that typically occurs to the upper and lower front teeth. If your child gets a tooth knocked out, a few simple steps can save the day. First, gently rinse the tooth in cool water. Be careful and do not scrub the tooth. Second, if it’s a permanent tooth, replace in its socket. If that’s not possible, put the tooth in a container of milk. (By the way, it is generally not recommended to replant a baby tooth.) Third, you must act quickly in any dental emergency for the best prognosis. Call your dental office right away and have your child evaluated. If a tooth is cracked, broken, or displaced, place a cold compress on the area to keep down any swelling. Seek dental care immediately. Avoiding most dental emergencies can be as easy as wearing a mouthguard, which cushions blows that would otherwise break teeth or injure lips. Make sure your kid slips in a mouthguard before participating in sports or other recreational activities. Remember, a safe summer can still be a fun one!

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