February is National Children’s Dental Health Month! This month is a good reminder that good oral health starts with habits that are developed when we are kids.
For this month’s blog post, I thought it would be a good opportunity to address some common oral health misconceptions about children’s teeth.
- Misconception #1: Kids will lose their baby teeth anyway, so it’s not important to take care of those teeth. It is very important for kids to keep their baby teeth healthy! Cavities on baby teeth can be painful and can lead to further dental work that is scary and stressful for young children. Retaining baby teeth until they are ready to come out allows for the appropriate spacing and orientation for our adult teeth. Taking care of our baby teeth also helps prevent issues with speech, diet, and other issues with our adult teeth.
- Misconception #2: Small kids do not need to go to the dentist, appointments can wait until they are older. Good habits and positive experiences are very important to start at an early age! You can start going to the dentist as soon as the first tooth appears. Early visits are focused around discussing things such as nutrition, early brushing habits, answering questions about fluoride or when to expect more baby teeth to appear. As children grow, the visits will gradually increase to include more show-tell-do brushing and flossing habits,the removal of build up (which can start even with preschoolers!) and of course x-rays to evaluate for cavities.
- Misconception #3: Milk is healthy. You can give it to kids to help them go to sleep. It will not hurt their teeth. One of the benefits of going to the dentist early is to discuss dietary habits. Milk does contain sugar and anything sugary, acidic or sticky should not be used to help a baby or child fall asleep. If you are giving your child milk before bed, make sure to wipe and clean off the teeth afterwards.. Milk pooling around the back teeth while the child is sleeping can lead to rampant decay known as “baby bottle tooth decay” which can be difficult and painful to manage.
At Virtudent one of our most meaningful and rewarding patient care
has been our giveback program, funded by Northeast Delta Dental and the Arcora Foundation. We serve children at no cost to them at Boys & Girls Clubs of NH, as well as Spaulding Youth Center for special needs children, and high-risk elementary schools in both New Hampshire and Washington state. Through our work we have seen many children that likely would not have otherwise received care. Through our work, we are able to provide preventative care, exams, education, fluoride treatments, sealants, and coordination of follow-up to dental offices in the area if needed.
One of the most rewarding parts of my job as a hygienist is when I see children who were anxious when they arrived, but come to enjoy the experience and open up. Also, it is extremely heartwarming when I see kids for a second or third time whose dental health has improved from their last visit. Times like that make all the difference!