“Oral infection is the No. 1 chronic disease in children–five times more prevalent than asthma–and experts estimate that more than 50% of children will have some tooth decay by age 5,” reports the LA Times in a special section devoted to dental issues in babies and children. Pediatric dentists explain how tooth decay in childhood often leads to tooth decay in adulthood. The importance of education and awareness is emphasized as the key to changing the course of a child’s future oral health.
According to the LA Times article, tooth decay in infancy and childhood can lead to some long-term problems, including:
- impaired speech development
- poor nutrition
- missed school days
When the front two teeth have to be removed due to decay, toddlers have difficulty forming words such as “the” or “two.” If nutritious foods require more chewing with strong teeth, those with tooth pain will opt for soft foods such as bread instead of dense nutritious food such as meat and vegetables. And, numerous studies show that tooth pain is a leading cause of missed school days, resulting in poor learning.
WHEN DO I TAKE BABY to DENTIST ?
Although many parents do not take their child to the dentist until the 5th birthday, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has been spreading the message “first visit by first birthday.” The care of gums and teeth begins in infancy, explain the dentists, adding that the most common misconception is that primary teeth are less important than permanent ones. As we mentioned earlier, primary teeth determine future oral health.
HOW TO CARE FOR BABY’S TEETH AND GUMS
Pediatric dentists suggest cleaning a baby’s mouth and gums with a soft and damp washcloth. This removes food particles and bacteria and gets the baby used to daily oral hygiene. When the teeth erupt, some dentists suggest cleaning the child’s teeth at least twice a day with an extremely soft-bristled brush.
One of the main habits to avoid is putting baby to bed with a bottle. The milk remains on baby’s teeth and causes decay, often referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay” Also be aware when giving juice instead of water to baby, it also puts leaves on their teeth. If baby drinks juice, try and follow with some water to rinse the teeth. The lingering acid is the cause of decay, eventually creating cavities in baby teeth.
Although poor dental health in children transcends social and economic boundaries, through parent education we can improve the oral health of the young.