Dental Health

Why Good Dental Health is Important

Many studies have discussed the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care.  According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America today is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first graders and almost 80 percent of seventeen year olds.  Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well being, self-image and overall achievement.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms.  Because of this, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.

Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good oral hygiene.  Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life – as early as infancy.  The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:

  • Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
  • Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
  • Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
  • Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
  • Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.

 

In addition, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry makes the following recommendation:

Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a “smear” of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.