Oral and Overall Health
Preventive dental care is all the things you do (or should do) to help your child take care of his or her teeth and gums: brushing, flossing, eating a healthy diet, and taking your child to the dentist regularly to help avoid dental disease.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that a child’s first visit to the dental office occur at approximately six months or when the first tooth erupts.1 By the end of your child’s first year, a dental visit should occur.2
Yes, it is very important to introduce your child to the concept of teeth cleaning and brushing.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, you should avoid putting a baby to bed with anything other than water.4 Almost any liquid other than water; things like milk, formula, juices, and other sweet drinks such as soda, all have sugar in them, if these sugary liquids maintain contact with teeth through bottle usage, they can cause tooth decay.4
To help prevent decay:
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally is water sources, it helps prevent or reverse the early signs of dental caries (tooth decay).8 Infants and toddlers may be more prone to tooth decay without adequate amounts, since it makes the enamel stronger and resistant to decay.8 There are many communities that have fluoride in their water supply. Water fluoridation can reduce the incidence of tooth decay by about 25%. You can ask your local water company if they add fluoride to the water in your community. Your child’s dentist may recommend fluoride supplements if fluoridated water is not available in your community.5
Sealants are thin plastic coatings used in the prevention of tooth decay.6 Tooth brushing and flossing are the most effective way to avoid decay, but sealants are very effective in the prevention of decay on pit and fissure (“nooks and crannies”) surfaces of the teeth reducing the risk by 80% on molars.9 The process is technique sensitive, takes about five minutes and it is important that the child cooperates by sitting still. Sealants are particularly important for children who have a high risk for decay.
The sealant placement will vary by the individual, but some standards for application of sealants are:
Ask your dentist if sealants are appropriate for your child.
1 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “Dental Care for Your Baby,” http://digital.ipcprintservices.com/publication/?m=17242&l=1. Accessed 04/18/2018.
2 American Dental Association, Mouth Health “Babies and Kids,” http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/first-dental-visit Accessed 04/18/2018.
3 American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy "Dental Fluorosis," http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/fluorosis Accessed 04/18/2018.
4 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. “A Healthy Mouth for Your Baby,” http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/ToothDecay/AHealthyMouthforYourBaby.htm. Accessed 04/18/2018.
5 The American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy “Fluoridation,” http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/Fluoridation. Accessed 04/18/2018.
6 The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. “Seal Out Tooth Decay,” https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-11/seal-out-tooth-decay-parents.pdf. Accessed 04/18/2018.
7 American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy "Baby Bottle Tooth Decay", http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay accessed 04/18/2018.
8 American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy "Healthy Habits", http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/healthy-habits, accessed 04/18/2018.
9 American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy "Sealants", http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sealants, accessed 04/18/2018.
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