A healthy life starts with a healthy smile
Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wednesday, February 2, 2011
By Dr. Diane Dooley
A child's smile is a beautiful thing. Although small, it is the gateway to a lifetime of health and good nutrition. Unfortunately, dental disease is the leading chronic and infectious disease—up to five times more common than asthma. Up to two-thirds of children seen by the Contra Costa Health Services Children's Oral Health Program needed treatment. That's a lot of youngsters with a problem that is preventable.
Good care of your child's baby teeth is important in preventing cavities later in life. Without proper care, many children suffer from pain, infection, school absences and poor nutrition.
February is Children's Dental Oral Health Month and a good time to take a look at what harms our children's oral health and what helps. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that grow in your mouth. Sugary foods and drinks feed this bacteria and promote tooth decay. Brushing cleans them away.
If you want to prevent caries, you should brush your child's teeth at least twice a day. Give your children only tap water and milk to drink. Tap water helps because it contains fluoride. Also, take your child to the dentist after their first birthday. Tips to a healthier mouth include:
Prenatal care and infants
After feeding, rinse out the mouth and gums with a damp cotton cloth. Brush baby teeth with a soft-bristled brush. Finally, avoid letting the infant sleep with a bottle.
Begin seeing a dentist twice a year after their first birthday. Tell the dentist about any brown or white spots on your child's teeth. This age is a good time to start flossing, can you make it fun? You should also ask your child's dentist about a fluoride varnish.
Here are some resources if you don't have a doctor or dentist: Denti-Cal, toll free at 800-322-6384; the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program at 925-313-6150, or the Children's Oral Health Program (925) 313-6280.
Dr. Dooley is a pediatrician with Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.