Author: Dr. Maribeth Mojares
February is Children's Dental Health Month. Good dental health begins at an early age. These tips helps guide new and experienced parents to ensure a healthy mouth.
Parents should start cleaning the baby's mouth by wiping the gums and cheeks with a clean cloth or gauze (after feeding them), even before the first tooth erupts. Around age 6-9 months, teeth will start to erupt and this is the time to start brushing their teeth with a soft bristle tooth brush.
As the child grows, it is best to develop the habit of brushing their teeth at least twice a day. Parents should realize that children still need to be supervised while brushing their teeth until the time that their dexterity is fully developed which is around 7-8 years old. This is also the time to teach them how to floss their teeth.[br][br]Visit to the Dentist
A child's first visit to the dentist can be done when the first tooth erupts or around his/her first birthday. Regular visits to the dentist of at least once or twice a year are important because preventing tooth decay is always better than having one that needs to be treated (or cavities filled). It is also important to preserve the health of baby teeth until they fall out because they serve as guide to the positioning of the permanent teeth.
Sugar combines with plaque inside the mouth and produces acid that can destroy teeth. Soda and juice are both high in sugar and very acidic, but do not have enough nutrients and are harmful to teeth. Avoiding these products together and sweet sticky candies is recommended.
One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay involves the use of sealants which are plastic materials that cover or seal the deep grooves of a tooth. These grooves are where food usually gets stuck and forms plaque. Plaque + sugar = acid, and when the two attack a susceptible tooth, it produces tooth decay. Eliminating these three components will prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride helps make teeth harder and stronger. It is important to know if city water in your area is fluoridated or not, because having too much or not enough fluoride will make teeth weak.
Maribeth Mojares, DMD, CDA
Doctor of Dental Medicine
Certified Dental Assistant
ECPI University School of Health Science, Medical Careers Institute
Source: Tidewater Parent Magazine