Why Good Dental Health is Important
Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.
The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.
Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child's life—as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:
- Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
- Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Teaching your child at age 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques and later teaching them brushing and gentle flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
- Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
- Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
- Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
- Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.
Practicing good oral hygiene is the key to maintaining good overall health, especially as we get older. In recent years, bacterial inflammation involved in gum disease has been linked to chronic health problems like stroke, coronary artery disease and premature, low birth-weight babies. Our doctors and hygienists take great care to identify and treat gum disease early to keep you and your mouth healthy.
There are a number of things you can do to help protect your smile and your overall health. Visiting your dentist regularly, at least twice a year, allows us to thoroughly clean your teeth and recognize any potential problems early (i.e. cavities, gingivitis, etc.) before they become more serious. Dental exams give us insight on whether the patient is getting proper nutrition, maintaining a proper oral hygiene regimen and whether there are any growth or development problems.
Here are some helpful tips to ensure you are practicing good oral hygiene at home:
- Brush at least three times a day using a fluoridated toothpaste
- Floss daily
- Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
- Avoid smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco products
By following the above steps, you can help prevent such common problems like cavities, gingivitis, gum disease, oral cancer, as well as more serious diseases that affect your overall health like heart disease and diabetes.