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The American Dental Association (ADA) started Children’s Dental Health Month in 1941 as a one-day event in the Cleveland, Ohio area. It became a week-long event in 1955 and transitioned to a whole month in 1981.
Since that time, the ADA and other sponsors of Children’s Dental Health Month such as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) have used the awareness campaign to highlight the importance of cavity prevention, treating cavities, and general children’s dental health concerns.
What Happens When Parents Avoid Treating Cavities in Young Children?
Parents sometimes have the opinion that filling a baby tooth with a cavity is unnecessary since the tooth will fall out eventually anyway. For most children, the front teeth on the top and bottom start loosening around age five or six with the back molars taking all the way until age 12 to fall out.
At Langley Dental Care, we always stress the importance of dental health for all ages. This includes infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who don’t yet have their permanent teeth. Why is this so important? Consider these consequences of ignoring tooth decay in young children as described by the AAPD:
- Loss of baby teeth will cause discomfort, potential embarrassment for the child, and the need to install a space maintainer to prevent the other teeth from crowding the area of the missing baby tooth.
- Untreated decay in the baby teeth can cause damage to the permanent teeth later.
- Teeth are more likely to grow in crooked and require future orthodontic treatment.
- Tooth decay early in life leaves the child vulnerable to gum disease and cavities at all life stages.
- Lack of early attention to oral health can cause infections that travel to the brain, ears, and sinuses.
- The child may have trouble when chewing, leading to malnutrition and insufficient physical growth.
- Speech articulation can be a challenge.
- The child may resist smiling, speaking, or playing and have an increased risk of teasing by peers.
Unfortunately, cavities are not uncommon in children five years old and younger. According to the AADP, approximately 40 percent of children in the United States have at least one cavity by the time they start kindergarten. Another 20 percent will develop cavities at some point during childhood.
Help Your Child Establish Good Oral Health Habits at an Early Age
While treating cavities in children is extremely important, preventing cavities is even better. The good news is that you don’t even need to wait until your child has teeth to start teaching him or her the importance of oral health. Each time your baby eats, wipe his or her mouth with a clean gauze pad to remove bacteria. This will get your child used to caring for the mouth from a young age.
As the teeth start to come in, use a toddler-sized toothbrush with just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on it. Start with the hand-over-hand method and gradually give your toddler more independence when it comes to tooth brushing. Your child can also watch you care for your own teeth. Be sure to supervise your son or daughter’s tooth brushing until at least the early elementary years to ensure a job well done.
It’s also important not to delay the first dental visit. The AAPD states that children are visiting the dentist for the first time far too late. Along with the ADA, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Academy of General Dentistry, the AAPD recommends that parents schedule their child’s first dental appointment by the first birthday or within six months of the first tooth erupting.
Regular preventative care appointments at Langley Dental Care helps to keep both you and your child on track with oral health. We invite you to schedule your child’s appointment with us today by calling 704-583-0966. We offer a clean, friendly environment with plenty of activities to keep your child busy in the waiting area and staff that knows just how to work with kids to gain their cooperation.