We polled dental professionals from across the mid-Atlantic region to address common questions in pediatric oral care. Our next expert voice is Dr. Peter Markov, speaking on fluoride and sealants.
Dr. Peter Markov, DMD | VK Pediatric Dentistry, Arlington, Virginia
How effective is toothpaste containing fluoride for kids?
Fluoride in kids’ toothpaste is one of the most effective and important ingredients to look for! In general, as soon as a child has teeth, we want to make sure there’s fluoride in their toothpaste.
Fluoride helps in a variety of ways, but most importantly, fluoride helps strengthen the teeth so they are more resistant to cavities. This (fluoride) is especially important for kids as their teeth, and their hygiene habits, are still developing. For kiddos who can’t spit out the toothpaste yet, aim for a grain-of-rice-sized smear of toothpaste on the brush. For older kiddos, a pea-sized amount is adequate for protection.
At what age should parents consider sealants for their children’s teeth?
Sealants are very effective at preventing cavities on the smooth biting surface of teeth. Although some children receive sealants on baby teeth, typically the first teeth to be sealed are the permanent molars which start coming in around age 6.
Permanent molars have deep grooves that can be difficult to fully clean, even for the most diligent of brushers. Adding a sealant to these teeth is a relatively easy process and can go a long way to protect the teeth and prevent cavities in the future. Some studies show up to a 50% reduction in cavities on sealed teeth! A benefit of a sealant compared to a filling is that it requires no drilling or numbing and is a very conservative option that offers great protection.