Your Health: Tips for a cavity-free smile

What are some tips for parents who want to keep their children’s teeth in good shape?

Children, like adults, should have regular dental checkups, said Dr. Ashley Nichols, a dentist and managing dental director of the Virginia, Maryland and Washington offices of the Kool Smiles dental chain.

The best way to prevent problems is to have dental checkups every six months, she said.

“The goal is to prevent damage to the teeth, not to have to go in and repair teeth,” she said.

Nichols provided some other tips on children’s dental care.

Who should get sealants?

“Sealants are usually used on permanent molar teeth that have really deep grooves as a preventive measure to help prevent decay. Decay often starts in those deep grooves where food particles can get stuck.” Permanent molars usually come in at age 6 to 7, she said.

How long do sealants last?

“That varies. Sometimes they can crack out, and sometimes they need to be touched up, redone. That’s why we tell kids you shouldn’t be chewing on ice, hard candy. They can last for years. It depends. Children will grind their teeth and little pieces will come off. Those are things we routinely touch up. The point is to get them through the times when it’s more challenging for them to stick to an oral health care routine at home.”

At what age should a child have a first dental visit?

“We like to say age 1 or first tooth. At that point, 95 percent of kids are going to be in great shape. If we teach parents methods and ways to keep their children’s teeth clean, teach them to ensure their kids are not going to bed a night with a bottle or sippy cup of juice, we can prevent a lot of decay.”

It’s hard to totally avoid sweets …

“I have a daughter. To be honest, there are times she does eat candy. I don’t forbid her from eating candy, but what I do is ensure that she goes and brushes her teeth very well afterward.”

In general, choose fresh vegetables and fruit over sugary treats, she said.

 

Source:  Time Dispatch

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