TOOTH DECAY AMONG CHILDREN
By Dr. H. Kopel
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention tooth decay is the leading disease among children in the United States. Tooth decay is preventable by proper oral hygiene, avoidance of foods containing sugar or starches, as well as sealants and fluoride treatments provided by your dentist.
A child’s baby teeth should be cleaned as soon as they start erupting through the gums by the parents. This should include brushing and flossing. As soon as the child starts spitting out their toothpaste instead of swallowing it, professional and home fluoride applications may start. The most important time to clean the teeth is at night before bed. The teeth should be brushed, flossed and then any recommended fluoride solutions should be applied. Only water should be ingested afterwards. Small children should be weaned off of night time milk and juice as soon as possible.
During regular 6 month dental checkups and cleanings the teeth will be treated with a fluoride gel or varnish. For maximum protection of the teeth see your dentist for a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste or fluoride rinse for home care use. When the permanent molars erupt or when indicated by your dentist, sealants will be recommended to prevent decay from starting in the susceptible pits and grooves of the chewing teeth where fluoride is least effective.
Following these guidelines as well as any specific recommendations made by your dentist may eliminate or at least minimize any future tooth decay. Starting good hygiene habits at a young age can provide a lifetime of healthy teeth.