True or false: Because baby teeth fall out early in life, kids don’t need to get serious about dental health until their permanent teeth start coming in.
The answer is FALSE—and that’s exactly the kind of teeth your child could end up with if you don’t take dental health seriously from an early age. Did you know children who develop cavities early in life are at a far greater risk of having cavities in their adult teeth? Cavities can mean a lifetime of mouth pain and expensive dental work, and can even lead to serious medical concerns like diabetes and heart problems.
To ensure that your child grows up to have a healthy, happy smile, the best offense is a good defense. Here are a few ways to promote healthy teeth in young children:
Brush children’s teeth as soon as they come in. Using children’s toothpaste with fluoride, start brushing a child’s budding teeth and gums the moment a tooth comes in. Don’t worry about baby’s mouth being too sensitive—if they’re old enough to grow a tooth, they’re old enough to have it brushed.
Brush your preschoolers’ teeth for them. Just because children are old enough to put toothpaste on a brush and place it in their mouth, doesn’t mean they can scrub well enough to get rid of plaque. Parents should be brushing kids’ teeth for them until they are about 6 years old to make sure that a thorough job is done. Try standing behind the child when you brush, using your free hand to move the lips and cheeks out of the way when needed. …
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Did you know that your children should have visited a dentist by the time they’ve reached the age of 12 months? You can find other helpful information like this at Children’s Dental Health Center.
Massachusetts passed a new children’s dental health law that went into effect January 1 of this year. The state Department of Early Education & Care now requires all children in day care longer than four hours and/or who eat a meal, to have their teeth brushed on-site.
Some parents think that day care providers already have enough on their plate without adding this to the mix, while others have voiced concerns about the possibility of spreading germs.
In this Boston Globe letter to the editor, Dr. Ng makes her case:
We see young children every day with pain and infection from untreated early childhood tooth decay. Children as young as 2 commonly present with eight or more cavities. Each year, we take more than 500 patients to the operating room to provide dental care under general anesthesia. …