Health & Safety

February 8, 2013

First dental visit for children comes early

Senior Airman LETITIA EISS
56th Dental Squadron

It’s never too early to care for a child’s teeth. Properly caring for children’s teeth and gums can prevent many dental issues such as cavities and gum disease. Dental health starts at a very early age.

The first dental visit should coincide with the child’s first birthday. This allows the dentist to look for dental abnormalities early and educate parents on an appropriate dental hygiene routine.

Early on, parents should assume the responsibility of caring for their children’s oral health which includes brushing and flossing. Infants’ gums and teeth can be cleaned using a wet washcloth or piece of gauze. As children grow and their skills improve, so will their dental responsibilities. Children should always be monitored to ensure proper plaque removal.

Fluoride can usually be found in the community water supply which helps strengthen teeth to help prevent tooth decay. The pediatrician can prescribe fluoride supplements if needed. Before age 2, children should use nonfluoridated toothpaste. At age 2 they can begin using a small pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste on a soft bristled toothbrush.

Sealants provide an additional benefit that protects teeth from cavity formation. Sealants are a clear or white-shaded liquid applied to the grooved or biting surfaces of the molar teeth which harden and acts as a barrier by preventing food and bacteria from getting into deep grooves that are difficult to be manually brushed. Sealants adhere to permanent teeth and can be first placed around age 6 when the first molars have erupted. Sealants are secondary to reducing the probability of decay from forming on teeth surfaces, and a daily brushing and flossing regimen should be the first defense.

Regular dental visits, water fluoridation, healthy dental home care habits of brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day and using an approved mouth rinse are essential to keeping a child’s and family’s dental health in good order.

For more information about dental hygiene, call the Luke dental clinic.




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