Why fluoride treatments and dental sealants are essential for a child’s oral hygiene


Your child brushes twice daily and visits his pediatric dentist twice a year. What else can you do to ensure a happy, healthy smile? Ask your kids’ dentist about fluoride treatments and sealants—two powerful cavity-fighting procedures. Here’s how they work.

Fight decay with fluoride.

Fluoride is a natural cavity fighter. The mineral strengthens the outer surface of teeth (enamel), making it more resistant to the acid that triggers tooth decay. It also rebuilds weak enamel and reverses early signs of decay.

Your child can get fluoride from the foods she eats and from drinking fluoridated water. Fluoride in food and water mixes with your child’s saliva to bathe their teeth. A fluoride treatment in a pediatric dentist’s is more direct.

Your child’s hygienist will apply a topical fluoride treatment after a cleaning. A fluoride gel or foam is placed in mouth-shaped trays (affectionately known as duck trays) and inserted into your child’s mouth for her teeth to “soak” in for a few minutes.

After a fluoride application, your child should not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow for optimum absorption.

Years of research show regular fluoride use is one of the safest and most effective ways to fight and prevent tooth decay

Save your child’s smile with sealants.

Dental Sealants are a thin, plastic-like coating that fills in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth and protect them from tooth decay. Sealants are usually applied to permanent molars (back teeth) to prevent bacteria and food from getting stuck in the natural creases on these surfaces. It is best to apply sealants soon after the permanent molars erupt and before tooth decay has a chance to begin.

Decades of research have demonstrated the benefits of dental sealants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says sealants can eliminate the need for expensive or invasive procedures like fillings and crowns.

In an interview with NBC News, Jonathan Shenkin, a spokesman with the American Dental Association, adds, “coating the biting surfaces of 6-year molars with a resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by up to nearly 80 percent immediately—and up to 60 percent for four years or more.”

The application process is easy and completely painless. Sealants are simply “painted” on a clean and dry tooth surface and then hardened with a special light. The protective coating is virtually invisible and is an important part of a child’s total preventive dental care. Once applied, a sealant can last as long as 5 to 10 years.

Children of any age can benefit from sealants, but dental professionals agree the earlier they get them, the better. Dental sealants in combination with good oral hygiene, healthy eating, and regular dental visits maintain optimal oral health—definitely something to smile about.

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