By Emily C. Day, DDS, Dental Director and Pediatric Dentist, Health Partnership Clinic
The American Dental Association (ADA) dedicates this month-long national health observance to bringing together thousands of dedicated professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others. At Health Partnership Clinic (HPC), we join the ADA in educating families about the importance of regular oral hygiene.
This year’s slogan is “Water, Nature’s Drink!”
You may be wondering why so much attention would be given to water!
Water is something we have access to easily, you can drink it straight from the tap and in most cities, it contains fluoride, which is critical to the prevention of cavities in children.
A bigger danger to children’s teeth is if sweetened beverages are consumed instead of water on a regular basis. Juices, flavored milks, sports drinks and soda all contain large amounts of sugar, which when sipped on throughout the day can cause tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities use the sugar from these drinks and convert it to acid that breaks down the tooth enamel, causing cavities that may be painful and that will require dental treatment to repair.
A simple way to prevent cavities in young children is to only offer water in between meals. Mealtime can be reserved for milk or small amounts of juice, both of which can be part of a healthy diet in the appropriate amounts. If you have questions about the appropriate amounts of milk or juice, speak with your child’s doctor.
Other tips for caring for children’s teeth include the following:
- Tooth brushing with adult supervision. Young children lack the manual dexterity to position the toothbrush correctly on each of the tooth surfaces. By the third grade, most children can begin to brush their teeth independently, but still need an adult to monitor that all teeth were brushed.
- Avoid sticky, chewy snacks that may get lodged in between the teeth. Foods like raisins, dried fruit, sticky and gummy candies, and crackers tend to become lodged in between the teeth and can cause cavities if not adequately removed with tooth brushing or flossing. Healthy snack options include fruits, veggies, yogurt and cheese.
- It is recommended that children first see a dentist by their first birthday. This will ensure the child’s caregiver is equipped with the appropriate education to take care of the young child’s teeth, and this sets the stage to best prevent cavities.
How does HPC care for children’s teeth?
- Professional exams, cleanings and X-rays to check for cavities in between the teeth and fluoride varnish applications to strengthen and protect teeth against cavity-causing acid attacks.
- Diet and nutritional counseling to make sure your child is on the right track to stay cavity-free.
- Customized oral hygiene instructions based on the age of child and any other special circumstances (for example, special tooth brushing tricks if your child has braces).
Many people are surprised to find out that cavities can be prevented! Just ask any member of our Dental department for tips and tricks to stay cavity-free!
To schedule a pediatric dental appointment, please call 913-648-2266. Pediatric dental services are offered at our Olathe and Ottawa sites.