Preventative services are one of the best ways to keep your family’s teeth healthy - and save money! Studies estimate that every dollar spent on preventative services means $8-50 saved on restorative or emergency care. And that’s just the financial cost saved - stress, energy, and time spent on restorative treatments can also feel like a cost. When combined with good oral habits such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and eating a balanced diet, preventative services can go a long way to keep up your family’s dental health.
General Exams and Cleanings
During a regular exam, we will examine your teeth, gums, tongue, and throat to determine if there are any problems or areas that will need to be focused on. Teeth and gums specifically will be checked for signs of gingivitis, plaque and tartar buildup, as well as cavities or other potential issues. Then, cleaning will begin. We will remove tartar and plaque from the surface of the teeth around the gum line, polish teeth with a deep-cleaning toothpaste, floss, and rinse teeth. It is recommended that everyone visit the dentist twice a year, but this is especially important for children.
Consistent dental office visits can make a big difference not only in your child’s comfortability and depth of relationship with us, but it also allows for any problems to be discovered quickly, dealt with in a timely manner, and monitored over time. A regular part of pediatric exams that accomplishes this goal is taking x-rays. At Jungle Roots we use digital x-rays, which expose your child to less radiation, but still allow for x-ray images that can show decay, disease, and dental development at a level that a regular exam cannot. We can get a better idea through x-rays if your child will need orthodontic services or should attend an observational orthodontic appointment, when teeth will emerge, or if there is an underlying disease that requires treatment.
Another aspect of exams is education. At Jungle Roots, talking with you about proper hygiene, nutrition, oral habits, and your family’s specific health needs will always be a part of general check-ups. We also like to leave plenty of time for you to ask any questions that may come up during the exam and cleaning.
If there is extensive tartar buildup, gum disease, or other similar issues, we may recommend a deep cleaning (sometimes called scaling). Deep cleanings can treat gum diseases, protect the roots of teeth, help receding gums reattach, and fight off tooth loss. Beyond that, deep cleanings can help to promote healthier teeth and gums, and even fight issues like bad breath.
While routine cleanings focus on the tooth that is exposed and regularly seen, deep cleanings go below the gumline to fully remove plaque and really clean all signs of buildup from the teeth. With the plaque gone, gums can begin to heal, and the areas that plaque caused gums to recede may even reattach. This allows for gums to be healthier, and protect teeth better.
If your child’s enamel is not strong enough or if they are prone to cavities, we may recommend a fluoride treatment. Fluoride, much like any other mineral or vitamin, is necessary and healthy in moderate amounts. If your child doesn’t get enough fluoride through their dental products, water, and diet, it can lead to weakened enamel and make teeth prone to decay. An important step in preventative care is talking with us to determine the best kind and number of fluoride products to use as a part of your family’s regular routine.
These treatments are a quick and painless way to bolster and strengthen enamel and make teeth more resistant to cavity-causing acids and bacteria. We will apply fluoride paste after a good cleaning, which hardens when it comes into contact with saliva, (meaning that eating or drinking won’t remove it). After about four hours, the treatment can be brushed off.
These treatments can help prevent, slow, or stop decay for 3-12 months. Depending on your child’s needs and progress, they may receive treatment only once, or up to four times yearly. This works best in tandem with great daily oral habits, including regular brushing, flossing, and minimizing consuming sugary and acidic foods. (You can read more about hidden sugars in kid’s foods here and healthy ways to eat sweets here.)
This type of preventative treatment is a bit different from those mentioned above. Dental sealants are a form of cavity protection specifically for molars and premolars. Because these teeth have such rough, uneven surfaces, food and bacteria can easily get trapped in them, and everyday brushing and flossing may not be enough to clean them fully. At Jungle Roots, we use BPA-free glass ionomer cement sealants, which is a similar shade to most teeth and blends in well. After cleaning and drying teeth well, it is placed on the teeth and can last anywhere from 2-10 years. Sealants release a small amount of fluoride over time and are a great way to prevent decay. In some cases, sealant can even be applied to teeth that are in the beginning stages of decay in order to halt the progression and prevent the need for a filling.
Children tend to have accidents more than adults do, especially athletes. Mouthguards are a great way to protect against physical contact-related injuries. In fact, athletes who don’t wear a mouthguard are 60 times more likely to harm their teeth than those who regularly wear a guard. While contact sports like wrestling, soccer, and football may come to mind, even gymnastics and ice skating can lead to mouth injuries, including cracked teeth.
Mouthguards usually cover the upper teeth and are a comfortable way to protect teeth and the soft tissues of the mouth. For those who have braces, a mouthguard can make a huge difference in comfort and safety while playing sports. Some braces-wearers prefer to get a second guard for lower teeth as well, to increase peace of mind and really minimize their risk of injury and damage to their braces.
Custom mouthguards offer the best fit, meaning greater protection and comfort. We are able to make custom mouthguards in just one appointment, so getting mouthguards for your child is a very simple and quick process.
Prioritize Preventative Care
These preventative care services work together to help you and your family avoid the pain, cost, time, and energy that restorative treatments require. At Jungle Roots, we prioritize educating our patients and their families on the best ways to integrate daily practices with regular cleanings and needed preventative services in order to keep great oral health. As always, if you have any questions about the services listed above, our philosophy of care, or would like to schedule a preventative care service, please call us! We’d love to partner with you to optimize your family’s oral health.
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.
Call Us - (480) 759-1119
References and Additional Information:
1. College of Dentistry. https://dentistry.uic.edu/news-stories/the-value-of-preventive-oral-health-care/.
2. Division of Communications, A. D. A. (2007). For the Dental Patient, 138. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Member%20Center/FIles/patient_72.ashx.
3. Fluoride Varnish: What Parents Need to Know. HealthyChildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Fluoride-Varnish-What-Parents-Need-to-Know.aspx.
4. How Preventive Dentistry Keeps Teeth Clean At Any Age. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/dental-visits/how-preventive-dentistry-keeps-teeth-clean-at-any-age.
5. Mouthguards: Information for Parents. HealthyChildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Mouthguards.aspx.
6. What Happens During a Dental Check-Up? Cigna. https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/what-happens-during-a-dental-check-up.