A quick, easy way to protect your child’s teeth

When you have children, a healthy mouth is a family affair.

You help your kids get in the daily habit of brushing their teeth from an early age. And you take them to the dentist, ideally once a year.

These two actions go a long way toward fighting a common childhood ailment: cavities. More than one in five school-age children has an untreated cavity.

“Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases,” says Alyssa Franzen, DMD, executive dental director at CareOregon [Jackson Care Connect] [Columbia Pacific CCO]. “The good news is that cavities are preventable.”

Once you have the brushing and dental-visit routine in place, you can do one more thing for your kids: dental sealants. By school age, kids start getting permanent molars, the back teeth used for chewing.

Molars are different from other teeth. They have many grooves on the biting surface, where bacteria can escape even regular brushing. Bacteria and acids lurking in the grooves are a recipe for cavities. Sealants can keep them out.

A dental care professional can apply a thin, clear coating over the molars. It’s quick – about 20 minutes – and painless. The sealant keeps out cavity-producing bacteria for several years or longer.

“We advise parents to get dental sealants for their children,” says Dr. Franzen. “Sealants are excellent protection against tooth decay.”

Children may be able to get help at schools that offer free dental screenings and sealants. Schools will send home a permission slip that parents must sign to get this treatment. Kids have a lot to lose from cavities. More than 50 million classroom hours a year are lost to treating tooth decay, nationally.

Healthy teeth mean your child can easily chew nutritious food and be free from pain. And preventing cavities means you miss less work because of dental visits.

Healthy teeth in a healthy child is win-win for everyone.