Just like with adults, children need to practice good oral hygiene and receive proper dental care in order to prevent cavities and ensure good overall health in the long run. And with school officially being back in session for another year, now is the perfect time to get their checkups done and set goals as a family for how to keep everyone's smiles bright and healthy. Drs. Robert and Mandy Shearer at Soddy Daisy Smiles have some insight to get you started.
First, Dr. Robert shared that fluoridated water has a long history of safety and effectiveness in the United States.
"It enjoys broad support from dentists, physicians, and the scientific community," he said. "Everyone from the World Health Organization to the American Medical Association, support water fluoridation, and while some local areas are moving towards removing fluoride in the city water, so many of our patients have asked how does this put children at risk and how can we prevent seeing more cavities?"
The answer is healthy diet, so make sure those after school snacks are limiting sugary drinks and sweet tooths for starters. Also get good oral health care and regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
"For parents concerned about making sure their child is receiving the right amount of fluoride, we recommend you talk with your dentist about ways to ensure your child has a healthy smile," he added. "For areas without fluoridation, the American Dental Association has come up with a list of guidelines, based on several risk factors."
Dr. Mandy also pointed out that it's important to always supervise kids younger than age 6 while they brush, as they are more likely to swallow toothpaste and need extra guidance on getting the right technique down and get a proper cleaning. Also finding ways to make sure the routine is fun and not a burdensome chore can be a huge help.
"Play a silly song, make a sticker chart, whatever will engage them in their daily oral routine in a positive light is so important," she shared.
As children's permanent teeth grow in, your dentist can help prevent decay by applying a thin wash of resin to the back teeth, where most chewing is done. This protective coating keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach crevices of the molars. If you have questions about this or any other type of sealant, Dr. Mandy and Dr. Robert are happy to help.
"Parents still need to make sure that kids know that sealants aren't a replacement for good brushing and regular flossing and getting enough fluoride," Dr. Robert noted.
If children complain of tooth pain or sensitivity, it's important to call your dentist right away to get seen and determine if it's the beginning of a cavity and how to treat it so that more damage doesn't happen in the long run. Dr. Mandy shared that often it is a sign that something more is going on and needs some attention, so the sooner you call, the better.
And finally for kids getting into their fall sports, make sure they have the right mouth guards in place and wear them the correct way, Dr. Robert added. You want to try to avoid any emergency dental visits if you can, and protective mouthwear is the key to that goal.
"For parents concerned about making sure their child is receiving the right amount of fluoride, we recommend you talk with your dentist about ways to ensure your child has a healthy smile. For areas without fluoridation, the American Dental Association has come up with a list of guidelines, based on several risk factors." Dr. Robert Shearer