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February is National Children's Dental Health Month

  • Published
  • By By Capt. Mandy Miller
  • 6th Dental Squadron
February is National Children's Dental Health Month! It is a special month for dental health care providers to focus on how we can support and improve our children's dental health. The following are just a few helpful children's dental health tips:

      Every child falls at some point in their life. Do you know what to do if your child's tooth is knocked out? If it is a baby tooth, just let it go! Baby teeth should never be reinserted or placed back in the tooth socket of the mouth. If it is a permanent or adult tooth, you will want to pay special attention to how you handle the tooth. Only touch the crown of the tooth, the part of the tooth visible when in the mouth, while gently and quickly rinsing the tooth with water. Do not disturb or touch any tissue that might remain attached to the root surface and do not dry it. After rinsing the tooth, reinsert it into the empty socket and hold it in place while you get to your dentist quickly. Best results are seen when a dentist is consulted within 30-45 minutes. If you are unable to reinsert the tooth, do not force it. Place the tooth in a small, sealed container of milk and seek dental treatment right away.

     The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children begin seeing a dentist between 6 and 12 months of age or within 6 months of the first tooth erupting. A positive first experience is the perfect way to help a child become comfortable with going to the dentist. Also, it is the first step in instilling good dental habits at an early age. As a rule of thumb, you should start flossing your child's teeth as soon as any two teeth make contact.

     Many people do not realize that dental caries, or as it is commonly referred to as "cavities", is a bacterial infection which can be transferred from an adult to a child. When sugars are introduced to the mouth and teeth, the caries causing bacteria inside the mouth consumes the sugar and produces acid. The acid then breaks down the hard surface of the teeth called the enamel, which can eventually cause dental caries or cavities. How do you prevent this destruction? By decreasing the frequency and length of time teeth are exposed to sugary substances. Less exposure time allows greater time for the enamel to harden and prevents cavity formation. In addition, having sugary drinks or foods only at mealtimes when salivary production is highest is best since saliva helps neutralize the acid produced by the bacteria. Sports and energy drinks, however, are especially bad as they contain not only sugar but a high acid content. Chewing sugarless gum or gum containing the natural sugar called Xylitol, helps increase salivary production and can inhibit bacterial acid production. Gum with Xylitol is even recommended for use by diabetic patients as it does not require insulin to metabolize.

     Take care of your teeth and gums daily using a gentle, but thorough, oral care routine prescribed by your dentist. Good oral hygiene habits and cavity prevention will help keep your smile beautiful and healthy.