A Family Dentist Reviews Why Good Dental Health is Important in Children and Adolescents
As a family dentist, we encourage parents to schedule regular dental appointments for their children. Studies and research have concluded that it is extremely important to start teaching children a good dental hygiene routine and overall oral care early in their lives. This will reduce their future oral health issues. According to research by the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in America today, affecting nearly fifty percent of 1st graders and eighty percent of 17 year-olds. Dental disease in children and adolescents in the United States is getting worse and is even five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.
Experts believe that awareness of the growing epidemic and early dental treatment prevents problems that would otherwise affect a child’s health, self-image, eating habits, ability to sleep well and overall academic performance. The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year because of cavities, toothaches, and other oral issues. The Surgeon General has even made children’s oral health a top priority due to the connection between dental problems in children and teenagers and a significant loss in their academic performance.
However, there are preventative measures that parents can take to help their children from missing school and suffering from oral health issues. As a family dentist, we recommend that parents are proactive and make sure their children practice good dental hygiene from an early age. Many parents believe that oral health care begins at the age of 1, but we actually recommend that parents clean even an infant’s gums after each feeding with a soft napkin or cloth, which stimulates the gum tissue and removes food. For infants with some teeth, parents should use a small toothbrush with soft bristles with a very small amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride.
As children grow and become older, regular visits to our dentist office are important to detect any early signs of cavities. Checking for possible developmental problems is key in dental care and preventing an oral issue from getting worse will ensure that children avoid discomfort and miss less school. If under the age of eight, parents should supervise and help their children while brushing and flossing. Keeping children away from too many sugary drinks and foods helps in the long run as well, since sugary or starchy foods can lead to cavities. Parents should also take a closer look at their water supply in their homes and see if the water is fluoridated. If not, speak with us about fluoride treatments.
Untreated toothaches and cavities affect a child’s ability to eat well, get a good night’s rest, and function well at school not to mention dental issues might negatively impact a child’s self-esteem and social development. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting our family dentist office on a regular basis, your children can stay healthy for years to come.