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Cavities: The Most Preventable Childhood Disease

Posted under Morgan Hill Dental News on January 24th, 2006 | No Comments
Cavities - The Most Preventable Childhood Disease

Morgan Hill Dentist Offers Tips, Free Screenings

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM), a month-long celebration sponsored by the American Dental Association to promote dental education and awareness of all children. The annual celebration focuses on oral hygiene care, nutritional concerns, prevention, and the importance of regular dental visits.

In observation of NCDHM, the Santa Teresa Dental, at 16160 Monterey Road in Morgan Hill, is offering free screenings for children, which includes a demonstration on how to properly care for teeth, a free toothbrush, and an educational DVD “Easy Steps to Oral Health” in English or Spanish. Call (408) 782-6568 for an appointment.

“Cavities may still be the single most common childhood disease,” said Dr. Andrew Huang, who owns the Santa Teresa Dental. “But the good news is parents can easily play a pivotal role in preventing them.”

Acid-forming bacteria found in dental plaque causes cavities. Children, ages 1 through 6, are more susceptible to cavities because baby teeth have thinner and weaker enamel. Baby teeth also have more spaces in between where food is more likely to linger. Consequently, it creates a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.

“Learning about proper oral care should be just as important as pre-natal care,” said Dr. Huang. “Parents should take the initiative and ask health care professionals about a child’s oral health.”

Dr. Huang offers the following tips for a young, healthy smile.

  • Start cleaning teeth early. As the first tooth appears, clean and massage the gums with a moistened gauze square or washcloth once a day to help establish healthy teeth and to aid in teething. When more teeth come in, switch to a small, soft toothbrush.
  • Use fluoride appropriately. Fluoride, found in toothpaste, fluoridated water and by professional application, is important in fighting cavities. But if children younger than 6 years old swallow too much fluoride, their teeth may develop white spots. To keep this from happening, use only a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a pea). Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and to rinse well after brushing. Consult with your pediatrician or dentist about when to start using fluoride.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and limit sugar intake. Offer your children fruits and vegetables and avoid foods with processed sugars. In addition, limit sugary and carbonated drinks. U
  • Prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Never allow children to fall asleep with a bottle containing sugary liquids, including milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas, and other sweetened drinks. The sugary liquids pool around the teeth and gums, feeding the bacteria that cause cavities.
  • Be a role model. Parents can teach kids good dental care by being a role model. Let them watch you brush and floss your teeth, then take time to show them how to do it themselves.
  • Visit a dentist. Children should visit a dentist within six months of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age. During the first visit parents will learn more about the proper oral care and hygiene measures necessary for young, healthy teeth.

 “With a little patience and guidance, your children can grow up with a healthy, beautiful smile,” said Dr. Huang.