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 Kids and dental care

April 2003 Issue

Open Wide
Kids and dental care

Kids have
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Baby Steps
Shoes for youngsters

Summer Backyard

Buyer beware

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Let’s face it—going to the dentist is, for many, one of the most paralyzing fears we face in life. For some the fear can be traced back to being unprepared for the first dentist visit as a child. After all, a strange adult hovering over you with lights and metal instruments isn’t exactly the stuff dreams are made of. But with a little early conditioning from infancy, dental care and dentist visits can actually become a pleasant experience.

Healthy baby teeth are important in enabling your child to chew food and speak properly. The basics of dental care should begin within the first few days after birth. The American Dental Association recommends cleaning a baby’s gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad after each feeding to help remove plaque and establish the feeling of clean teeth and gums to the child at an early age. Early visits to the dentist help identify problems and corrective measures early. The dentist will also check for signs of decay, teach you how to clean the child’s teeth daily, and direct you on your child’s fluoride needs. Ask your pediatrician or dentist what age they recommend your child first visits the dentist.

Believe it or not, babies can get cavities. "Baby bottle tooth decay" occurs in nursing children that are allowed to continuously nurse from a bottle of milk, formula, sugar water or fruit juice while napping or at night. Liquids pool around the child’s teeth during sleep and the acids attack the teeth for long periods of time, causing serious decay. If a child requires a bottle as comfort, use only water at bedtime.

Once baby teeth appear, you may start cleaning them with a soft, child-sized toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Use only the recommended amount of toothpaste so your child doesn’t swallow too much of it. Too much fluoride can cause spots on your child’s teeth. Your dentist will also determine your child’s fluoride needs and may prescribe fluoride supplements in order to help build strong teeth and prevent decay (your city water supply may also have fluoride added to it.)

With early conditioning to build good dental care habits, your child will be rewarded with a gleaming smile to last a lifetime.

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