Going Back to School with Healthy Teeth
July 24, 2017
Summer breaks are heaven for kids. From sleeping in in the mornings to seeing all the new summer blockbusters in the theaters to spending hours in the pool, kids love their summer freedom.
But mouth germs that cause cavities never take a break. They sit, waiting ever so patiently for your young one to go to sleep without brushing those perfect, sparkly white teeth. Then, once your child is asleep, that is when the cavity germs begin their “midnight buffet.” They feast on all the leftovers that sit on your kids’ teeth. Milk, macaroni and cheese, candy, carrot sticks… the cavity germs don’t care what it is they eat, including your child’s teeth.
“Dental cavities are the number one chronic disease in children — five times more prevalent than asthma — and the current estimate is that more than 50% of children will experience tooth decay by age five,” says Michael Johns, D.D.S., Clinical Assistant Professor and pediatric dentist at the Midwestern University Dental Institute. “Dental pain is a common reason for children being absent from school. And by the time the cavities cause pain, treatment options are limited.”
If you as a parent believe that it is not as important to safeguard “baby” teeth since they will eventually fall out anyway, think again. Baby teeth help kids learn to speak. They help young kids eat solid foods and receive the appropriate nourishment. They hold the space that is necessary for the grown-up teeth to come in. Yes, your young one will start getting those grown-up (permanent or “adult”) teeth in at around six years of age, but they do not all come in at once. Kids do not have a full complement of adult teeth (with the exception of the third molars or “wisdom teeth”) until they are around 12… sometimes even at 13 or later. Some children do not generate all of their permanent teeth; thus, the baby teeth must hang on a little longer.
Now for the kicker: cavities are preventable. For every dollar spent on prevention (toothbrush, toothpaste, check-ups, sealants), between $8 and $50 is saved in dental treatment.
Here are some simple tips for busy families:
- Brush before bedtime every night with an American Dental Association (ADA)-approved toothpaste (the toothpaste cannot earn the ADA seal unless studies have proven that the toothpaste prevents tooth decay).
- Be an observant parent: Parents should help children brush until the child is around age six or seven, once those grown-up teeth start to arrive, because they come in far back in the mouth and your child might not be able to maneuver the toothbrush all the way back there to do a thorough job of brushing.
- Make brushing fun by singing songs or brushing while listening to music.
- Make sure your child only drinks water during the night; wipe your baby’s mouth after feeding if still using bottle or nursing.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups to assess your child’s oral health and development, as many things affect the development of his mouth, including asthma and thumb sucking.
Make sure your kids head back to school this summer with a full set of healthy teeth, because summer freedom should also mean freedom from tooth decay and pain!
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not for use in diagnosing any condition. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, care or treatment. Always consult a qualified health care provider with any questions regarding any possible medical condition.