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Monday, December 9, 2013
Why is it that the dental health of American children has significantly improved over their parent's oral health? Because children today have the benefit of fluoride and sealants that were either not available or available to a much lesser extent than when their parents were young. Here are some guidelines for dental health parents may consider as their child grows and develops.
To continue improvement in the oral health of children, parents must be diligent even before their birth. Unbeknownst to most parents and providers, dental cavities are transferred from parents (primarily mothers) to their young offspring. Newborns are not born with the primary bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) necessary to cause dental cavities. Therefore it is recommended that parents have their dental treatment completed before the birth of their child so that the transference of Strep mutans occurs later in life and in lower concentrations putting the child at less risk for developing cavities.
Another important fact to remember is never put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with anything but water. Milk, fruit drinks, apple juice, or sugar water in a bottle overnight can wreak havoc with developing teeth, often responsible for hospitalization of the child to treat rampant dental cavities.
Cheat Sheet for Parents:
Also, in order to prevent early dental cavities start brushing his or her teeth as soon as they erupt with very little toothpaste twice a day: once in the morning and again, just before bed in the evening. This pattern started early will develop into a healthy habit, which he or she will continue through a lifetime.
Also at about six months of age, it should be determined by your pediatrician, family physician, or dentist if he or she is receiving optimal fluoride levels or if a fluoride supplement is needed.
By one year of age, your child should have his or her first dental examination and continue every six months thereafter in order to maintain good oral health for a lifetime. Regular dental checkups with your dentist is the only way to maintain good oral health and to identify any dental problems.
In addition, dental sealants usage is a relatively new preventative procedure in preventing dental cavities in newly erupted permanent back teeth (molars) and should be placed on six year molars and again on twelve year molars.
Because not all children are able to receive routine dental care or sealants, some programs have been initiated to increase access to dental care (dental disease is the number one unmet health care need in Ohio) and ensure all children receive the dental care they need. Some services of the Healthy Smiles Sealant Program are to:
Dental health programs are available in other cities, so check to see if there's one in your area. You can find more information about the Healthy Smiles Sealant Program at Establishing, Funding, And Sustaining A University Outreach Program In Oral Health.
Always remember, good oral health is also important in promoting good general health.
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: Jun 28, 2010
James Lalumandier, DDS, MPH
Professor of Community Dentistry
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University