August 10, 2014 | Caffaratti Dental Group As the summer fades and children and parents alike get back into the routine of the school year, it’s also a great time to brush up on oral health habits. Despite the fact that tooth decay is entirely preventable, it’s also the most common chronic disease in children – four times more common than childhood obesity and five times more common than asthma. More than 40 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had a cavity in their baby teeth, and more than two-thirds of 16- to 19-year olds have had a cavity in their permanent teeth. No matter the age of your child(ren), it’s imperative to schedule regular dental visits and practice good habits at home to help ensure a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. When should dental visits begin? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends scheduling your child’s first dental visit as soon as the first tooth erupts, or by age 1. Don’t wait later than age 4 for a first visit. Why so soon? The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can start early, and the biggest concern for babies is Early Childhood Caries (formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Once a child’s diet includes anything besides breast milk, erupted teeth ate at risk for decay. The earlier the dental visit, once teeth have erupted, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Does my child need dental sealants? Dental sealants are a thin plastic film that forms an impenetrable barrier on the surface of the teeth. Dental sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, shutting out the food particles that could get caught in the teeth and cause cavities. Click here to download our tooth brushing chart Continue to assist your child in brushing his or her teeth until between ages 6 to 8. Some good indicators that your child can manipulate a toothbrush correctly are the ability to tie shoes in a double knot, button a shirt or write in cursive. Children, in particular, are susceptible to decay in their hard-to-reach molars, and even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is very difficult to clean the tiny grooves and pits at on certain teeth. The teeth most at risk for decay, and most in need of dental sealants, are the 6-year and 12-year molars, and the permanent premolars and primary molars can benefit as well. Dental sealants can last for many years when properly cared for, protecting your child’s teeth throughout their most cavity-prone years. The application process is fast, easy and comfortable. Depending on the number of teeth being sealed, dental sealants take between 10 and 45 minutes to apply. Teeth are first treated with a cleaning and etching solution. That solution is quickly rinsed away, and then teeth are dried and coated with the dental sealants, which is hardened with a curing light. What do I do if my child chips or loses a permanent tooth? Click here to download the free guide A permanent tooth falling out or breaking is one of parents’ biggest concerns when it comes to a child’s teeth. Contact sports can lead to broken or knocked out teeth for children, but injuries can be prevented with a mouth guard that’s either custom-fitted by Dr. Caffaratti or bought at a sporting goods store. If a permanent tooth chips or breaks, contact Caffaratti Dental Group immediately. Fast action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse your child’s mouth with water and apply a cold compress to reduce the swelling. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, it’s important to bring it with you to your child’s appointment. If a permanent tooth falls or is knocked out, find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. Replace the tooth in your child’s socket and hold it there with gauze or a wash cloth. If you can’t place the tooth back in the socket, put it in a clean container, preferably with cold milk. If milk isn’t available, put the tooth in a container with your child’s saliva, but NOT in water. Bring the child, and the tooth, in to Caffaratti Dental Group immediately. If it is after hours, there is an emergency phone number available on our recording. Schedule appointments for your whole family today We know your time is valuable, and with one phone call you can schedule appointments for all of your family members at Caffaratti Dental Group at the same time, saving you time in driving to various locations. Give us a call today at 775-358-1555.