Dental Sealants: What Parents Need to Know

As your child’s molars come in, your dentist may recommend sealants as a preventative measure against future tooth decay. At South Valley Pediatric Dentistry we suggest this simple, pain-free procedure as soon as your child’s six-year old molars erupt and again as twelve-year molars arrive. Sealants have been proven safe and effective in preventing tooth decay, but parents often have questions about their use, application and effectiveness.

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Why do my children need sealants?

Molars have deep ridges in their chewing surfaces, where food particles can stick. Furthermore, many patients find it difficult to brush back molars thoroughly enough to keep these deep ridges clean. Sealants help keep food away from the enamel of your tooth, preventing cavity-causing bacteria from growing where the sealant is applied. The American Dental Association recommends applying sealants to the teeth of all children and adolescents.

How are sealants applied?

dental-sealants-exampleA dental assistant will apply your child’s sealants. The assistant will first clean and dry the tooth and apply a layer of gel which allows the sealant to stick. After a few seconds, the assistant will rinse the tooth, dry it thoroughly and apply a layer of plastic. Lastly, the assistant will use a UV light to make the sealant very hard.

Will my child need sedation for sealants?

Sealants don’t require local anesthetic like fillings do, so many children are able to handle getting them without any trouble. Some patients with anxiety or special needs may not be able to sit still while sealants are applied. However, we only sedate children who need extensive dental restoration (fillings and crowns). Though sealants are an important preventive measure, and we use the safest sedation practices possible, the risks of sedation simply out-way the benefits of getting them done. However, if your child requires sedation for other dental work, we will usually also apply sealants while they’re asleep.

How much do sealants cost?

Sealant cost will vary by dental practice. Our office charges $39 per sealant. Most dental insurance policies cover them, at least in part, and many cover 100% of sealants. What’s more, paying for sealants can save you money, since cavities are much pricier to fix.

How effective are sealants?

Studies have shown sealants result in an 80% reduction in dental cavities. Sealants Work

How safe are sealants?

Very safe! Some parents worry about the amount of BPA in sealants but according to the American Dental Association, children are exposed to higher levels of BPA from food, drink, sunscreen and shampoo than dental sealants.

Sealants are SafeSealants are safer and easier to apply than fillings, crowns and other dental restorations because dentists don’t have to numb the mouth, which carries some minor risks.

 

How have sealants worked for your family? Tell us more in the comments below or on Facebook!

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Tools of the Trade

Great dental health begins at home! The dental professionals at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry can help keep teeth healthy and strong with regular cleanings, check-ups and restorations such as fillings or crowns, but without daily at-home dental care, children are at risk for dental complications such as infection and cavities. Most of us know the golden rules of home dental care, – brush teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day – but many have questions about which of the variety of available products will work best for their child. These are the types of tools we recommend for our patients:

Tooth paste: Children under four should use a fluoride-free toothpaste to prevent them from swallowing too much fluoride, which can cause permanent white spots to form on developing teeth. By the age of four most children can spit excess toothpaste out, which means they can switch to an adult toothpaste. However, some children dislike the stronger flavors of adult toothpaste. In that case, they can continue to use a children’s toothpaste, while supplementing with prescription fluoride drops or tablets.

Tooth Brush: Choose a soft bristled toothbrush for yourself and your children. Brushes with firmer bristles are too abrasive and can damage enamel. Electric toothbrushes also work well, but can be expensive and are not required for good dental hygiene.

Floss: Cleaning between your child’s teeth is an important part of dental care. As soon as teeth begin to touch, you should begin flossing once a day with your child. Traditional waxed or unwaxed dental floss works well to clean between teeth and strengthen gums, but many parents find dental flossers such as these are easier for children because of the easily gripped handle.Photo Credit: http://www.sheknows.com Other inter-dental cleaners such as water picks, proxy brushes or wooden toothpicks may be used as an alternative to dental floss.

Fluoride Supplement: Your dentist may prescribe a fluoride supplement if you live in an area without fluoridated water, or if your children require additional fluoride due to genetic or other factors. Children younger than 6 months should not take a fluoride supplement. For children older than 6 months, your dentist can discuss what kind of supplement to use.

By incorporating the proper dental tools into your at-home dental care routine, you and your children can fight dental carries, gum disease, and infection – keeping your child’s smile healthy and beautiful.

Halloween Candy Buyback!

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South Valley Pediatric Dentistry is proud to host our annual Halloween Candy buyback! In an effort to promote healthy habits and keep cavities at bay, our office will be exchanging cash for candy November 1st through the 4th. Parents and kids are encouraged to bring their Halloween haul to either of our locations during regular office hours (listed below*). Children will receive $1 per pound of candy! Now that’s what I call a treat!

*Springville Office Hours:

Monday-Friday

8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Closed for lunch 1:00-2:00

*Payson Office Hours:

Tuesday/Thursday

8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Closed for lunch 1:00-2:00

For more information on cavity prevention during the fall season see our previous post, Costumes, Candy and Cavities.

Costumes, Candies and Cavities

Finally fall is officially upon us! The weather is cooling, back-to-school sales seem like a distant memory, schedules are settling back into normalcy and Halloween is just around the corner. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, when it comes to your children’s teeth, a lot can go wrong in fall. Caramel apples, trick-or treating and the ever encroaching holiday season mean those notorious sugar bugs (cavities) are just waiting to pounce. But by following a few simple steps, the festivities of fall don’t have to cause your dental downfall.

  1. Limit Sugar – Of course it’s not necessary to ban all sweets from the house, but once that Halloween haul comes in, monitoring candy access for your little monsters can help keep their teeth in top condition. We’d suggest limiting candy to one or two pieces per day in order to prevent the bacterial growth and plaque buildup which cause cavities. Need help kicking the candy habit? Starting November 1st, South Valley Pediatric Dentistry will host our annual Halloween Candy Buyback, exchanging cash for candy!
  2. Rinse, repeat – The heat of summer may be long gone, but kids still need plenty of water to keep their mouths and their bodies healthy. Drinking water will wash excess sugar away from teeth, reduce candy cravings and help prevent infection. Even if they’re not as thirsty as the sweaty summer months, rinsing out your child’s mouth with water can still help keep teeth, gums and tongue healthy and germ-free.
  3. Favor Flossing – Candy and other sweets have a nasty habit of sticking between teeth and causing dental decay, so flossing becomes especially important when sticky, sugary snacks increase in fall.

Taking care of your teeth is important year round, but some seasons present unique challenges to even the most dedicated dental disciples. Taking extra care to limit sweets, drink plenty of water and clean in between teeth can help ensure a safe and healthy Halloween!

Thank You, Teeth!

Usually our articles at SVPDkids are chalk full of facts and information on dental health and the services offered by South Valley Pediatric Dentistry. But our love affair with healthy teeth goes deeper than statistics and analysis. Teeth do many wonderful things for us, and are too often forgotten, underappreciated and taken completely for granted. So today I decided to take the opportunity to celebrate teeth for all of the wonderful things they do for us. Here are some of my personal favorite things about teeth:

  1. Biting into crunchy, healthy, delicious foods! What would fall be like without tasting those wonderfully crisp apples which fill up the produce section? Thank you teeth, for bringing us the best parts of every season!.
  2. Brightening smiles! What happens when we’re really, truly happy? We show our teeth in a great, big, genuine grin.
  3. Keeping us healthy! Studies have shown a strong correlation between tooth loss and malnutrition. That’s probably because healthy teeth play a large role in properly digesting food and in the ability to chew hard foods like vegetables and meat.
  4. Gum chewing! I hate dragon breath after meals, so I often pop a piece of sugarless gum in my mouth after chowing down. Without teeth, my gum chewing habit would be impossible!

Teeth give us all that and so much more. They take great care of us, so we should take care of them too! What are your favorite things about teeth?

Flossing Facts and Fiction

You may have seen recent articles in which trusted news sources, such as the New York Times and Associated Press suggest that flossing your teeth is unnecessary. However, we at South Valley Pediatric dentistry stand with the American Dental association in recommending that our patients floss at least once a day. Why do dental professionals like those at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry still suggest daily flossing when news articles and statistical reviews claim that flossing doesn’t help? To answer that question I’ve compiled a list of facts and falsehoods surrounding the whole flossing issue.


Much of the current confusion about flossing comes from articles like this one from the New York Times, which make several questionable claims about flossing. Many of the points made by these articles perpetuate myths about flossing which need to be debunked.

Claim 1: The government doesn’t want you to floss anymore.

Status: FALSE – The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services did remove the recommendations for flossing from their 2015 dietary guidelines, but that doesn’t mean they’re telling you not to floss. They took flossing out of the dietary guidelines for two reasons: one, because they wanted the dietary guidelines to focus on nutrition (go figure), and two, because they had not conducted their own randomized clinical trial to test the effectiveness of flossing. The fact that the government has not tested flossing does not mean you shouldn’t do it. The phrase “a lack of evidence is not evidence of lack,” applies here. Or in other words, things that have not been proven, are not automatically false.

Claim 2: American Academy of Periodontology doesn’t want you to floss anymore.

Status: FALSE – The American Academy of Periodontology has stated that much of the current research on flossing is flawed or incomplete. This fact should inspire researchers to look more thoroughly into flossing instead of giving people a pass to not floss. The fact that the Times presents the lack of evidence on flossing as a reason to skip it altogether is irresponsible, as it may encourage unhealthy habits and lead to poor overall dental health.

Claim 3: The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews doesn’t want you to floss anymore.

Status: (Mostly) False – The Cochrane looked at 12 studies and found “unreliable evidence” that flossing helps prevent plaque. However, this review did support the claim that flossing can help. Researchers merely suggest that there is not a lot of evidence and that existing evidence is difficult to analyze because most people do not floss correctly. The solution then, is to learn to floss correctly, which has been proven to prevent tooth decay, rather than to give it up as a lost cause.

Claim 4: Flossing prevents gingivitis, but that doesn’t make a difference.

Status: (Mostly) True – Flossing has been seen to prevent gingivitis, swelling and bleeding of the gums. But the Times article also claims that gingivitis is not a serious condition and that flossing is not worth the work to prevent this condition. In reality, gingivitis can become problematic, painful and lead to more serious dental conditions. Preventing gingivitis is in fact one good reason to make flossing a daily habit.

Along with making the above assertions, articles like the one in the Times, brush over or outright ignore a few key facts about flossing such as:

  1. The American Dental Association still recommends flossing once a day.
  2. Flossing removes food particles from in between the teeth. Research does show that food particles remaining in contact with teeth leads to plaque buildup and tooth decay. Logically, removing food from between teeth will prevent dental problems. Some things are too obvious to extensively research. Like the grass being green, or the sun being hot, or the fact that flossing prevents tooth decay.
  3. Flossing is a low-risk, time effective way to protect your teeth. It is safe for most people and will add, at most, two or three minutes to your routine. You have nothing to loose from flossing, but potentially much to loose in giving it up.

Tooth Fairy Traditions

The losing of baby teeth marks a child’s growing up and can cause excitement (or sometimes concern) for many children. To celebrate this event many cultures have a “tooth fairy” figure who collects a child’s lost teeth in exchange for gifts or money.  In many parts of the world, including France, Spain and South America, the tooth fairy comes in the form of a mouse or rat who often leaves a small gift behind. Many Asian or African cultures throw, bury or hide baby teeth in various baby tooth rituals. In fact, the Tooth Fairy as we know her – a good fairy who leaves money under your pillow – only appeared in popular folklore around the turn of the century.

For more information about baby tooth traditions, see the free printable below sponsored by Delta Dental: Baby Tooth Traditions Around the World.