Why Good Dental Health is Important
Volumes of studies and research prove 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 is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.
The National Institute of Dental & 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 there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.
Parents are responsible for helping their children practice good dental hygiene until the child is at least 10 years of age and should start these practices during infancy. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry 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 or toothbrush. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
- Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a smear sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste until 2, and changing to a pea sized amount once the child turns 2 years of age.
- Even if the child is resistant to brushing, it is mandatory that teeth get brushed daily. Consistency and training will help your child develop a healthy mouth, as well as a healthy perception of oral care. In reality, children typically do not like getting their diaper changed, however as parents we push through their crying and resistance. The mouth is even MORE important to clean daily than a diaper. When the diaper is not changed it is uncomfortable for the child and those who provide care for them, with the result being rashes and the like. In contrast when the mouth is not cleaned, it can result in debilitating dental disease which can be financially devastating as well as affect their overall health for their entire lives.
- Regular visits with Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Watts and Dr. Capeci to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
- Asking Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Watts, Dr. Capeci or their staff about sealant application to protect the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth.
- Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft cloth and water.
- As soon as your child’s teeth erupt, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- If they are under the age of 2, use a small “smear” of toothpaste.
- If they’re 2-5 years old, use a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste.
- Be sure and use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste and make sure your child does not swallow it.
- When brushing, the parent should brush the child’s teeth until they are old enough to do a good job on their own.
- Flossing removes plaque between teeth and under the gumline where a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch.
- Be sure and floss your child’s teeth daily until he or she can do it alone.
Tooth Decay Prevention
Tooth decay is a progressive oral disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth with sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the surface of teeth, forming a cavity. Avoiding unnecessary decay requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.