Start Early for Good Oral Health


Recognizing National Children’s Dental Health Month

Many parents wonder whether is it important to take care of your child’s first teeth, since they will fall out in early childhood. The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Healthy adult teeth begin with healthy teeth during childhood. That’s why starting infants off with good oral health can help protect their teeth for decades to come.

Caring for baby teeth

A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaw at birth. Baby teeth that begin coming through the gums around six months, help set the stage for future smiles by keeping room in the jaw for adult teeth. The American Dental Association recommends that parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday, and then at intervals recommended by their dentist.

Avoid cavities

Early childhood caries (cavities) is the number one chronic disease affecting children. It’s five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Tooth pain keeps many children home from school, or distracts them from learning.

Consumption of sugary foods, soda, juice or energy drinks increases the risk for tooth decay and gum disease, so minimizing these items is an important aspect of dental health. It’s also important to always brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, and floss once a day.

Value of sealants

Another option to protect children’s teeth is sealants, which act as barriers to cavity-prone areas. They are applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars, located in the back of the mouth, after the teeth erupt and are completely above the gums.

Molars usually develop between the ages of six and 13. Sealing a tooth is fast and there is virtually no discomfort. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing, but may have to be reapplied. Both primary and permanent teeth can benefit from sealants.

To learn about caring for children’s teeth, read Children’s Dental Tips: Daily Care and Toothbrush Choices.