We believe that prevention is definitely better than cure!
With this in mind, our team of qualified clinicians will advise you on what you can do at home, to help your children look after their teeth and establish an oral health regime from a young age.
Prevention methods can be in the form of dietary advice
When children are young and many parents are time-poor, it is easy to fall into bad habits. For example, this could be giving your baby a bottle of milk in the middle of the night, so everyone can get some much-needed sleep. Who hasn’t done this at some stage? As your toddler drifts off to contented sleep after a midnight bottle, quite often the teat is still in the baby’s mouth and small amounts of milk are pooling in the baby’s mouth. Over time this may lead to tooth decay, due to the prolonged time that the teeth are exposed/soaking in the milk.
We recommend preventative treatments
We recommend fissure sealants be applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth, which creates a protective barrier to help prevent food and bacteria from getting into these teeth. This is usually done for children aged 6-7 years of age and then again when the 12-year-old molars erupt. This is a safe and painless procedure, which is basically “painting” the tooth surface. No anaesthetic is needed; the procedure is not invasive and would usually take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. The relatively low cost of having fissure sealants done, would far outweigh the expense of having teeth filled, due to cavities.
Prevention in the form of early visits to the dentist
It is recommended to start bringing your children to the dentist when they are young. When mum and dad are coming in for their routine examinations, we encouraged them to bring the children. First visits involve having a ride in the chair and receiving a dental hygiene show-bag on the way out. With a first positive encounter, they are then happy to return again in future for their own examination.
With each visit, we aim to be able to thoroughly check their teeth, demonstrate toothbrushing and have a friendly, but educational conversation about their oral hygiene routine and their dietary habits at home, which plays an important part towards their oral health. Gone are the days when children had to endure unpleasant visits to the dentist. Over time, technology and learning techniques have greatly improved, so the pain of going to the dentist is a thing of the past.
Prevention with fissure sealants
Fissure sealants can be applied on the permanent molars to reduce the risk of tooth decay. The sealant prevents food and plaque from trapping in deep grooves (fissures), or pits on the surface of the molars, providing a smooth easier to clean surface.
What are fissure sealants made of? There are two types of sealants commonly used:
GIC (Glass Ionomer Cement) or Resin sealants
- Both are tooth-coloured adhesive fillings. GIC is opaque and resin sealants may be clear, or opaque in colour.
- Placement of resin sealant is more complex and takes longer as resin is less water tolerant. If the tooth gets wet during the placement, the procedure has to start from the beginning. If a child is young and less compliant in the dental chair, GIC is an ideal alternative as the procedure to place GIC sealant is simpler and it is more tolerant to water.
- Resin sealants however have a better wear resistance, so they last longer than GIC sealant. It is ideal for permanent molars to be sealed with resin sealants. GIC may be used as a sealant for partially erupting molars, until the permanent resin sealants can be placed.
How do I know if my child needs fissure sealants?
Not every child needs fissure sealants. Your dentist will assess the need for fissure sealants based on a child’s age, their dental history including their standard of oral hygiene, decay history, their health and other factors that may increase their risk of decay for eg. their diet. Molars with deep pits and grooves will also increase the risk of decay.
Your dentist will usually recommend sealants for the first molar teeth, which appear at around 6 years old. The back teeth (second and third molars), emerge at around 13 years and 17 years of ages respectively and should be checked to see whether sealants might help.
What does placing a sealant involve?
Applying a sealant is a quick and painless procedure! There is no anaesthetic required and no drilling on the tooth.
Your dentist will
- Clean the tooth
- Etch the surface of the tooth with an acid solution so that the sealant adheres well to the tooth
- Flow the sealant into the deep grooves and pits
- Light cure to set the sealant
- Clean excess and check your bite
Your dentist will check the condition of the sealants regularly as part of your child’s routine check-up. Sealants may sometimes wear, de-bond or partially chip and may require reapplication. If placed correctly, sealants will last beyond the years of maturation of the molars post eruption.