Celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month by Taking Care of Tiny Teeth

February 22, 2010 04:13 PM

More than 40 percent of U.S. children will have tooth decay before the age of five

CHICAGO (Feb. 22, 2010) – Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. This February, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) encourages parents and caregivers to "Get it Done in Year One." Visiting a pediatric dentist by the time the first baby tooth appears enables the child to begin a lifetime of preventive dental care, helping to minimize tooth decay and cavities. In fact, studies show that dental costs for children who have their first dental visit before age one are 40 percent lower in the first five years than for those who do not see a dentist prior to their first birthday.

Baby teeth are vulnerable to tooth decay from their very first appearance, on average between the ages of six and 12 months. Pediatric dentists specialize in caring for these tiny teeth, imperative for proper speech development and nutrition. The specialized care offered by a pediatric dentist includes unique strategies for working with children that alleviate fear and anxiety through the use of positive reinforcement and behavior guidance. Pediatric dentists monitor babies’ growth and development and provide essential dentistry services including tooth cleaning, polishing and fluoride treatment.

For healthy smiles, dental care must be established in – and out – of the pediatric dentist’s chair. The AAPD recommends the following at-home methods for infant oral health care:

  • Clean infant mouths and gums regularly with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water.

  • Children older than six months need fluoride supplements if their drinking water does not contain enough fluoride. Fluoride supplementation in infants has been shown to reduce tooth decay by as much as 50 percent. Check with your pediatric dentist first.

  • Babies should be weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age and at will breast-feeding should be discouraged.

  • Baby teeth should be brushed at least twice a day with a toothbrush made for small children using a "smear" of fluoridated toothpaste.

Visit www.aapd.org for more information or to locate a pediatric dentist.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
Founded in 1947, the AAPD is a not-for-profit membership organization representing the specialty of pediatric dentistry. AAPD’s 7,600 members are predominately pediatric dentists and primary care providers who deliver comprehensive specialty treatments for infants, children, adolescents and individuals with special health care needs. As advocates for children’s oral health, the AAPD aims to promote the use of evidence-based policies and guidelines, foster research concerning pediatric oral health, and educate health care providers and the public to improve children’s oral health. For further information, please visit the AAPD Web site at http://www.aapd.org.

 


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