It’s February! That means it’s time to raise awareness about children’s dental health.
The American Dental Association sponsors the month-long observance to focus attention on the importance of good oral health in children and to equip caregivers, parents and teachers with information to promote good dental care for kids.
At Swope Health, we are in on this. Our dentists and dental assistants love to help kids develop good brushing habits, understand tooth-healthy choices and feel comfortable with dental care.
“Primary teeth–also, known as baby teeth–play a crucial role in a child’s health and development,” said Dr. Arezo Hesaraki, who sees patients at Swope Health’s Wyandotte Dental Clinic. “Practicing good oral health during a child’s early years promotes good nutrition by allowing them to chew properly. It also helps children develop better speaking skills while creating a better self-image.”
Dr. Hesaraki notes that the absence of good dental care can lead to cavities, which can cause problems with eating and interacting with others, and even contribute to difficulty learning or paying attention in school. The better approach is to learn about hygiene and healthy habits early, to prevent extensive – and expensive – treatments later.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a dentist twice a year, although some children may require more frequent care. In a typical visit, Dr. Hesaraki will:
- Check the teeth for cavities, by examination and X-ray.
- Clean the teeth to remove any debris that builds up.
- Help the child learn proper brushing and flossing.
- Apply fluoride to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities.
- Place sealant treatment on the teeth as a further protection, which is a bit like putting on a raincoat.
Dr. Hesaraki spends time talking with children and parents about good nutrition. She encourages them to make healthy choices like fruits, vegetables and water instead of sugary candy, juice and sodas.
Good dental care should start with infants, so Dr. Hesaraki teaches parents to wipe out the baby’s mouth with a soft, moist clean cloth after feeding to remove sugars and bacteria. She cautions not to let children go to sleep with a bottle of milk, noting if a bottle is necessary, it should contain only water.
“Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease,” she said. “The goal is to decrease the time that their teeth are exposed to sugars. You can do this by reducing the frequency and duration of sugar intake, and promptly cleaning teeth after eating.”
“I love children,” she says. “I want each one to have a healthy smile.”
My Children’s Teeth: Tooth Decay (American Academy of Pediatric Dentists)