The importance of early childhood oral hygiene Published Oct. 17, 2022 By Senior Airmen Andres Jaramillo Munoz 6th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron Dental Flight MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Going for a dental checkup shouldn’t be a dreadful event. Instead, it should be seen as a way to make sure everything is going well inside the mouth. The negative stigma associated with going to see the dentist can be turned into a positive experience and that starts in the early years of childhood. Educating parents and young children on the importance of practicing good oral hygiene throughout adulthood is crucial. The reason why learning and applying good oral hygiene techniques is so important during the early childhood years is that it can prevent extensive dental care in the long run. Early childhood caries can be costly for parents and is preventable. Educating our communities on the importance of keeping and practicing good oral hygiene habits is key. Good oral hygiene should begin before the first tooth erupts. You can use a soft damp cloth to wipe your infant’s gums or use a gum massager. This prepares the baby for future help from Mom and Dad cleaning their teeth. Additionally, make sure you are helping your child brush and floss their pearly whites until they develop the dexterity to do it by themselves. Brushing daily during the early years creates a habit that will lead to more positive visits to the dentist, as opposed to developing cavities which can require local anesthesia (numbing shots) and hand pieces (drilling). What parents wouldn’t love their children to have simple checkups, sealants and cleanings? Here are a few simple ways to promote good oral health for your child: • Brush and floss together • Use fluoride toothpaste (pea size) • Go for regular dental checkups • Sealants are a great preventative tool to protect small grooves in teeth from trapping bacteria and developing cavities • Encourage healthy foods and limit sugary and acidic snacks and drinks Early childhood caries is one of the most prevalent diseases on the globe. Let’s do our part and protect our little ones from getting cavities and help them develop great habits. For more information, please contact the 6th Medical Group Dental Flight at (813) 827-9400.