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Oral Health is Important for Young Children – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Children from racial/ethnic minority groups have more caries than white children. (Courtesy photo)

You’ve just had your first baby and you can’t believe how fast time flies! Before you know it, your baby’s first tooth will appear. Many parents believe that oral health and dental visits are unnecessary in the first few years of life, especially since these are not your baby’s permanent teeth. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Did you know that the baby teeth contain space for the permanent teeth located just below the surface of the gums? This means that any damage to your child’s baby teeth can spread to the permanent teeth and cause a lifetime of costly problems.

Caries (also called caries) is the most common chronic disease in the world. Cavities can form very early, even in your child’s first tooth. Almost half of the children in kindergarten in Los Angeles County have already developed tooth decay. By the 3rd grade, the majority (75%) of students have caries.

(photo courtesy)

Children from racial/ethnic minority groups have more caries than white children. In Los Angeles, 63% of Latino children had tooth decay, and black/African American children were most likely to have untreated tooth decay. Cavities seem so common, but they are not normal and can be prevented.

How are cavities formed?

Cavities form when the normal bacteria that live in your mouth combine with the sugars in your diet to create acid. These acids break down (or demineralize) your teeth and cause them to decay. When you take a break from eating or drinking, your teeth have a chance to heal (or remineralize) before the next meal.

Why are baby teeth important?

Teeth help children chew and digest healthy foods. Teeth are also needed to help your child form words when they speak. They are important for self-esteem – we all want our children to be proud of their smiles.

When teeth decay, it’s not just your child’s mouth that is affected. In addition to affecting a child’s growth and development, tooth decay can be very painful. Toothache causes difficulty focusing in school and missed school days. Decayed teeth can easily become infected, and these infections can spread to other parts of your child’s head.

Which children are at risk of early tooth decay?

While all children are at risk of developing tooth decay, some children are at higher risk. If you (as your child’s primary carer) have had tooth decay in the last 12 months, then your child is at higher risk of tooth decay. This is because cavity-causing bacteria can be spread from you to your child through saliva, such as from sharing utensils or kissing your child.

Does your child always have a bottle or glass of milk or juice in their hand? This also significantly increases the risk of tooth decay. Continuous use of a bottle or glass of juice or milk does not give their mouth time to repair the damage caused by these decay-causing acids.

Children with special health needs and babies who were born prematurely are especially at high risk and should be closely monitored by their pediatrician and dentist.

You have the power to help prevent cavities in your child!

These recommendations can help prevent tooth decay in your family:

  • As soon as your child has their first tooth, brush their teeth for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste before breakfast and before bed. For children under 3 years of age, use a grain-of-rice amount of toothpaste; in children over 3 years of age, use a pea-sized amount.
  • Make sure your child does not fall asleep with a bottle, as this increases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Avoid using a bottle until 12-14 months of age and switch to regular cups.
  • Limit food and drink intake to three meals and two snacks per day.
  • The only fluids your child needs are water and milk. Avoid juice and soda.
  • Check your drinking water for fluoride. If this happens, it is recommended that your family drink tap water to get the necessary amount of fluoride to protect their teeth. Talk to your pediatrician or dentist if your drinking water does not contain fluoride.
  • Encourage your whole family to go to the dentist. Your child’s first visit should be before their first birthday!
  • Many providers accept Medicaid. Dental coverage for children is considered an essential health benefit by federal law. Your insurance plan should offer free checkups and cleanings. Check the specific dental benefits for your child with your insurance provider. If you have or are eligible for Medicaid (Medi-Cal), then you don’t need to apply separately for dental coverage—it’s already included!
  • Ask your pediatrician about fluoride varnish at your next checkup for extra protection.

Oral Health is Important for Young Children – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Oral Health is Important for Young Children – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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