Dental Care for Pre-Teens (6-12 years old)
Q: How do dental sealants work and are they necessary?
A: The chewing surfaces of children’s teeth are the most susceptible to cavities and are the least susceptible to the benefits from fluorides as opposed to the flat surfaces of teeth. Sealants work by filling in crevasses on the chewing surfaces where four out of five cavities in children are found. These irregularities can't be cleaned effectively, even by diligent brushing, because a single toothbrush bristle is far too large to get into these grooves. Plaque is then allowed to form out of reach of daily cleaning. Sealants fill these grooves with a plastic material which hardens and acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting these decay-prone areas. The application of sealants is fast and comfortable and successfully protects teeth for many years.
Q: Does Your Child Grind His Teeth At Night?
A: Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) of the dentition. Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by a developing/abnormal bite and/or missing/crooked teeth. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12.
Q: Does xylitol reduce the risk of cavities?
A: Xylitol is a naturally occurring, nonfermentable sugar alcohol. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of xylitol on the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs. Using xylitol as either a sugar substitute or as a small dietary addition has demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new tooth decay, along with some reversal of existing dental caries. Studies suggest xylitol intake that consistently produces positive results ranged from 4-20 grams per day, divided into 3-7 consumption periods. The use of xylitol gum by mothers (3 times per day) starting 3 months after delivery and until the child was 2 years old, has proven to reduce cavities up to 70% by the time the child was 5 years old.
Q: My child needs to take liquid medication on a regular basis… is this a problem?
A: First thing you should determine is if it contains sugar since many children’s medications do to make them more palatable. Some medications can contain as much as 80% sugar and this will definitely increase you child’s risk for cavities! It is a good idea to clean the teeth immediately after giving the medication to keep sugar off the teeth and reduce the risk of cavities.