Children’s oral health, the cost of complacency. Few things are more adorable than a baby’s first smile. Yet, adults often overlook the fact that those baby teeth serve an important role as placeholders for when the adult teeth come in. The oral health habits that are started in childhood are also the ones that stick as children mature into adults. Children need oral health care early in their life to prevent future problems and to establish a relationship with their dentist.
So, Complacency then…
Recently, the children’s oral health improvement board was established to take action against the increasing problems that dentists are seeing in young patient’s mouths. For instance, more children than ever before are showing up with cases of decay that are preventable. For this reason, every parent and adult caregiver of a child should be aware of the costs that are associated with complacency regarding children’s oral health. Along with what can be done to stop the growing epidemic of childhood tooth decay.
Recognize the Growing Epidemic of Children’s Oral Health Issues
The Child Dental Health Survey 2017 is conducted every two years. This is to find out how effective efforts are at ending complacency regarding children’s oral health. The most recent survey results reveal that attitudes are improving in this area. It was still found that more than a quarter of children five years of age and younger had treatable tooth decay. This statistic sadly shows that there is still so much more that adults must do to end the growing epidemic of poor oral health in children.
Understand the Role Diet Plays in Oral Health
The children’s oral health improvement board has recently begun an initiative to highlight the connection between sugar and children’s oral health. Today, many of the most popular foods on the market are loaded with large amounts of sugar. For instance, even fruit juice often has sugar added to the bottle when it is not necessary. When children eat sugar, acids are formed in their mouth that eats away at the enamel. In fact, this chemical reaction is the primary reason why dentists recommend that parents avoid letting their child sleep with milk or juice in a bottle.
You must also understand that the types of food that children eat have an effect upon plaque and tartar accumulation. Sticky foods contain sugar and carbohydrates. These stay on a child’s teeth longer which leaves more time for the acids to break down the enamel. Crunchy foods have the opposite effect. Apples, carrots and other crunchy foods work as natural toothbrushes to help remove plaque. Make sure to keep this information about sugar and children’s oral health in mind when you plan your child’s meals. Then you can use their diet to further promote better oral health.
Prioritize Tooth Brushing and Flossing
In addition to eliminating sweet foods from your child’s diet, you can take other precautions to further reduce the children’s teeth problems that occur from poor oral health care. As a parent, your responsibility includes establishing a routine that your child follows regarding their oral health care. Currently, the recommendation for proper oral hygiene is for children to brush their teeth twice a day and floss once daily. Keep in mind that your child needs help. Help them in brushing and flossing their teeth until they have developed the proper skills to do it properly. For most children, this happens around the age of seven. But you may still need to provide assistance until their teens.
Work With Your Child’s Dentist to Identify Problem Areas
At home care makes a big difference in helping children to improve their oral health. Yet, there is still plaque and tartar left behind on parts of your child’s teeth that the toothbrush and floss cannot reach. At your child’s regular dental visits, they receive cleanings that prevent children’s teeth problems. They do this by going slightly below the gum line to remove hidden areas where bacteria accumulate.
Ideally, children should visit the dentist one to two times a year for checkups, but your child may need to go more often if they already have problems with their teeth. In addition to cleanings, your child’s dentist uses visual exams and x-rays to screen for areas of decay. If decay is found, then simple fillings are often all that is required to restore the tooth. Thus helping your child avoid potentially serious issues with their teeth. Your child’s dentist may also show them how to properly brush and floss their teeth if they notice large amounts of tartar or plaque in their mouth.
Know the Complications That Arise
Many people think that tooth decay in a child’s mouth doesn’t matter since baby teeth fall out anyway. The truth is that serious issues arise when a child’s oral health is neglected. One of the most upsetting discoveries that was revealed during the Child Dental Health Survey 2017. That tooth decay was the leading cause of hospitalizations for children between the ages of five and nine. These children presented to the hospital with symptoms such as severe pain and infection that were completely preventable with proper dental care.
Adults should also be aware that decay in a baby tooth can reach below the gum line. This can create problems with the unexposed adult tooth. For this reason, decay often becomes a major cycle that is not able to be broken. Not without major dental work in a child’s early years. The good news is that most decay is easily identified in its early stages. So that it can be treated before it has a chance to cause severe symptoms or long-term damage to other teeth.
Make a Commitment to Care For Your Child’s Teeth
Sadly, many children today continue to lack appropriate guidance regarding how to care for their teeth. Fortunately, your child’s dentist can help you put together a plan that combines professional care with at home strategies that improve their oral health. While it does take a long-term commitment, even the simplest changes in your routine go a long way toward the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease.
Give Dr. Engel a call today to book an appointment and get your child started on a dental regimen that preserves their smile for a lifetime.
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KinderSmiles Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
400 Kinderkamack Rd.
Oradell, NJ 07649
Children’s Oral Health (The Cost of Complacency)