Why Good Dental Health is Important
Years of research and experience have shown the importance of giving each child the benefit of early preventive care. Regular home care and visits to a pediatric dentist are keys to good oral health. Tooth decay is America's most common childhood disease, affecting over 50 percent of first-graders and over 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early dental care prevents problems that can impact a child’s overall health, well-being, self-image and performance in school.
The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that American children miss 52 million hours of school each year due to dental pain and infection and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental problems. Because dental disease has such a significant impact on school performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a national priority.
Parents are responsible for helping children with regular home preventive care. It is important to introduce proper oral care early in a child's life—beginning in infancy. Good oral hygiene for children includes:
- Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a clean, moist terry cloth pad. This stimulates and massages the gum tissue and removes food.
- Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Children need adult assistance with brushing until they are able to tie their own shoelaces. Begin gentle flossing as soon as two teeth grow in contact with one another. Children can begin to floss independently beginning around age 9 or 10. Parental assistance and supervision is essential until your child has the skill and maturity to brush and floss properly on their own.
- Starting shortly after the eruption of the first tooth, begin regular preventive visits with a pediatric dentist to avoid problems and monitor your child's dental development.
- Early preventive "check ups" are the best way to avoid unpleasant experiences and fear of dental visits. Avoid using words like “pain” or “hurt,” which can cause anxiety.
- Determine if your home water supply is fluoridated; if not, discuss supplement options with your child's pediatric dentist or pediatrician.
- Ask your hygienist or pediatric dentist about nursing/bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sweet liquids, and about sealants to protect the chewing surfaces of your child's teeth.
The following health history update form can be downloaded and completed prior to your child's periodic preventive visits. Completing this form in advance and bringing it to our office with you can save you time at your child's check up appointment. This form helps keep us up to date on your child's health and any concerns you may have about your child's care.
Continual Health Status Report