Dental Health

Why Good Dental Health is Important

Pediatric Dentist, Gig Harbor, WA, Lisa A. Block, DMD, MS

Many studies have found that starting young children in their early years with good dental health practices and oral care is critically important. We know that the most common childhood disease in America today is tooth decay. Tooth decay affects over half of all first-graders and over three-quarters students 17and older. Treating dental decay prevents serious problems that affect a child’s health, self-image, well-being and overall success. Missed school due to dental health problems has a significant impact on academic achievement and success. The United States Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a high priority. Parents must make sure their children learn and practice good dental hygiene. Parents must should start teaching proper oral hygiene and care very early in a young child's life—even as early as infancy. A good oral hygiene and dental care routine for children includes the following:

  • Cleaning infant’s gums after each feeding with a cool water-soaked wash cloth. This will stimulate gum tissue and help remove any food particles.
  • Brushing a baby’s teeth using a small, soft-bristled toothbrush moistened with water will also help remove food particles and health with good gum health. Toothpaste is not necessary for babies.
  • Around the age of 2, a child can be taught good toothbrushing techniques with the parent always brushing the teeth as well. Teaching a child to floss comes later, but parents should continue helping their children brush and floss until the child is around 8 years old or has the coordination to write in cursive.
  • Starting regular visits to the dentist after the child has the first tooth or around age 1 is key to establishing good dental health habits.
  • Parents can help make dental visits a positive and happy visit.
  • It is important to talk to your dentist about fluoride and fluoride supplements. Know whether your water has fluoride in it.
  • Talk to your dentist about sealants which will protect a child’s chewing surfaces.d Learning about the causes of baby bottle tooth decay and how to prevent it is a key lesson to learn. Never put a child to bed with a bottle of any liquid other than water prevents the sugars in milk and juice from bathing the teeth while the baby sleeps.
  • Establish a good relationship with your child’s dentist and know that they are there to help you help your child learn the best dental health practices.