Quick tips--your child and dental health

  • Published
  • By Dental Technician Senior Airman Baokou Bungard-Thao
  • 341st Missile Wing, Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight
February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Here are some quick tips on what you should be thinking about when it comes to your child and dental health.

Many new parents may wonder, when should I start brushing my child's teeth? The answer is simple: as soon as teeth appear in the mouth!

Then, it is imperative you teach good brushing and flossing habits to your children early. Introduce flossing when you notice your baby's teeth beginning to touch.

Tooth decay can occur with frequent and prolonged exposure of baby's teeth to liquids and sugary foods such as cookies, candies, sweets, sticky foods, fruit juice, and even milk and formula

When sugar is consumed, it provides food for bacteria which attacks the enamel on your baby's teeth.

Without proper brushing and flossing, teeth have little ability to combat these destructive bacteria.

If allowed to sit on the teeth for as little as 48 hours, plaque will begin to calcify and harden.

Once this happens, brushing and flossing alone will no longer remove the plaque that has now become tartar.

If possible, brush and floss after every meal, and anytime your child eats in between. This not only allows the surface bacteria to be removed, but will also take care of bacteria that may have slipped just below the gum line.

Proper flossing is critical as this will help remove anything between the teeth in areas that are unable to be reached with a tooth brush. Don't forget to floss behind back teeth.

As parents, it is important we remember our children are not born with these crucial preventive health skills.

We must take the time to teach them not only how, but why it is important to have good oral hygiene. An ounce of prevention can go a long way in fighting the war on gum disease and avoiding potentially costly dental bills in the future.

The American Dental Association suggests it is beneficial for the first dental visit to occur before the child's first birthday. Be sure to consult your dentist for more information.