Each February, the American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.
Dental caries, a preventable disease, is the most common chronic disease affecting children in the United States. It is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever.* Children’s Dental Health Month stresses the importance of early prevention and exposure to oral health care. The consequences of untreated dental caries on children’s overall health and well-being are substantial. Dental problems result in an estimated 51 million hours lost from school, costly emergency department visits, and hospital-based medical and surgical treatments. Poor oral health has been related to decreased school performance, poor social relationships, and less success later in life. Left untreated, the pain and infection caused by tooth decay can lead to problems in eating, speaking, and learning.
First dental visits are mostly educational. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that every child visit the dentist by the child’s first birthday. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend a child visit the dentist by age one as well. This “well baby check” for the teeth can establish a dental home and helps ensure that parents learn the tools they’ll need to help their children remaincavity-free. The first visit will consist of education and determining a caries risk profile for your child. The risk profile takes into account many factors, including hygiene routines, Fluoride sources, sugar intake, and even the oral status of the primary care giver. With this risk profile determination the dental health provider will be better able to construct a plan to maintain your child’s optimum oral health.
As a general rule, personal oral hygiene for kids should mirror that of adult, with brushing twice a day. Fluoride toothpaste is recommende fo those children old enough to spit. Flossing doesn’t become important until the teeth become more closely spaced, but it is always a good idea to start the routine early. As a rule once, a child is able to tie their own shoes they have the manual dexterity to brush effectively.
Most importantly caries is a preventable disease. With education and a good daily home care routine you can prevent caries and provide your child a long life of great oral health. If you don’t currently have a “dental home” for your child, please visit Dr. Christopherson and set your child on the right path to optimum oral health.
* US Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health; 2000.