Based on studies, tooth decay ranks as the most common recurring childhood disease in the United States. It is prevalent among those below the age of 17, with 80% of 17-year-olds and 50% of first graders affected. The conclusion is that for a child to live a life free of dental health issues, he/she must start early in life with regular dental checkups. These early dental visits will help detect and prevent any impending problem from developing in the future.
Dental health problems constitute the majority of reasons children miss school. Records from the NIDCR (National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research) show that 52 million lost school hours per year are attributed to dental health issues. This huge loss of academic participation has driven the Surgeon General to assign top priority to issues related to the oral health of children.
It is the responsibility of parents to teach good oral hygiene to their children from an early age. Parents can learn how by reviewing the below routine formulated by the ADHA (American Dental Hygiene Association), which will help foster good dental hygiene in children.
- Use a water-soaked baby cloth to carefully clean your baby’s gums after each meal in order to remove food particles and stimulate the gums.
- Once your child is 2 or 3 years old, teach him/her the correct way of brushing the teeth. You incorporate this with gentle flossing until he/she turns 8 years old.
- Plan regular appointments with the child’s pediatric dentist for early detection of milk teeth cavities and other developmental abnormalities.
- Encourage your children to express themselves freely. Let them share their fears and anxieties about dental visits with you, but try not to use negative words like “hurt” and “pain” to avoid creating a negative image of such visits in their minds.
- Does your tap water contain fluoride? If not, discuss with your pediatric dentist the possibility of using fluoride supplements.
- Ask your pediatric dentist practical ways of guarding your child’s teeth against decay by avioding sugary drinks. Also, ask about sealing agents that are used to protect chewing surfaces of the teeth.