Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dental Health Studies

With Halloween arriving soon - and all the candy that comes with it, I thought I'd finally do an article about kids and their dental health.  My hygienist has been asking me too during the last few trips to see her as she cares deeply about children and their dental health and knows I write this blog.  Frankly, it is such a huge topic, it truly deserves a series of blarticles.

One in four children have already experienced tooth decay by the age of five.  In fact, it is the most prevalent childhood illness.  While you might respond with the idea that they'll grow new teeth anyway, this leaves kids with experiences with dentists that involve far more pain than necessary and the resulting fear that goes with it.  It also generally would indicate those same kids probably are not taking care of their gums either.  Something that will not get replaced later on.

The Real Deal about Childhood Dental Care:

In the past, baby teeth were often ignored because they fall out and are replaced by more permanent teeth. But, baby teeth need to be protected. They are important to a young child who is just learning to eat and speak, and they help guide adult teeth into place.  Plus, teaching kids to care for their teeth from the earliest days helps them be better prepared when their permanent teeth do arrive.  When I taught preschool, I had many parents suddenly decide to start teaching their kids to brush at the age of two or three and wonder why their kids screamed and put up a fuss at brushing time.  Here's the thing, teeth brushing, if you already have infected gums and sensitive areas is NOT comfortable.

If your child's physician pays attention to oral health, it can work to use a general pediatrician because parents take their children to physicians for well-child checkups as many as 11 times before age 3. A physician can check teeth for signs of early decay, provide information to parents about protecting oral health and refer the child to a dentist when follow-up care is needed.  However, many pediatricians don't see this as their job and are not well informed about oral health care.  Do not assume your child's pediatrician will take dental health into consideration.  Make sure, and if the pediatrician says anything to indicate it hasn't already been a part of his or her considerations, find out who the best local dental pediatrician in your health plan is.

One of the most important tips for good oral health is simple: children should have an oral health screening by their first birthday by a dentist or a physician.  The prevailing wisdom used to be that kids don’t need their first screening until age 3.  However, recent studies show that this is not soon enough. Teething usually starts around six months of age and dental decay can begin soon after teeth emerge. So early screenings, by age one, are an important tool to prevent dental disease.  Pediatric dentists will encourage checks and the development of a relationship between child and dentist as early as possible.

Before they cut their first tooth a baby already has gums that need care.  Using gauze to wipe their gums after they've eaten (yes, your milk counts too!) will help discourage the build up and growth of the germs in baby's mouth that will cause mouth disease.  Additionally, it gets them used to the sensations involved with oral care making learning to care for their teeth and gums later on fun and as normal as learning to dress rather than traumatic.

Suggestions From Eve Rutherford:

Here are some oral health tips that I share with parents:
  • Beginning at birth, wipe your baby’s gums with a washcloth or piece of gauze after feeding.
  • As soon as you see baby’s first tooth, start brushing it with a soft “baby” toothbrush. Use a small amount (rice-sized) of toothpaste.
  • Try putting your child’s head in your lap to make brushing easier.
  • Limit how often your child has juice, sweet drinks or snacks. Constant snacking on sugary, sticky or starchy foods or sipping sweet liquids can cause tooth decay.
  • Ask your child’s dentist or physician about fluoride varnish, which is painted on the teeth to prevent or heal early decay.
  • If you put your baby to bed with a bottle, fill it with water.  Formula, milk, or juice can increase your child’s risk of cavities.
  • Around age 4 or 5, your child will be ready to practice brushing their own teeth.  Children still need your help brushing until they are 8 years old or until they can tie their shoes.
  • Medicaid covers dental care for children.
  • Please help spread the word that children’s dental disease is preventable and taking care of baby teeth is the best way to get started.
Eve Rutherford is a dentist practicing in Snohomish, a board member of Washington Dental Service Foundation and a mother of two young boys.

You might also check out: Goofy Toofy for more detailed information and resources. 

Please look forward to my upcoming blarticle that will give you resources to complete a Unit Study on dental health. 


childrendentistsca said...

Good dental care begins with your own efforts to maintain an appropriate regimen of dental hygiene. You should also see your dentist on a regular basis for exams and cleanings. Getting good dental care can be a serious obstacle for so many of us in the US who are unemployed, have insufficient income or have no dental plan from an employer.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the oral health care tips for children. I also advise my customers to do the same to their kids and help them educate their kids about the possible consequences in the future if they will not practice a good dental hygiene.

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Balance is Best said...

Thanks for the supportive complement!

Amandeep Goma said...

It is important to brush first thing in the morning to remove plaque and bacteria that have accumulated over night and to brush last thing at night because saliva (which helps to keep the cavity-causing plaque off teeth) dries up as we sleep.

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Jane Zhang said...

Now a days most of the parents are getting worried about their kids dental problem. As due to taking much chocolates and snacks most of the kids are facing these oral problem. These tips will be helpful for those parents a lot.

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