Dental Caries Is The Most Common Pediatric Disease

Good dental habits should start with your baby’s first tooth. Although baby teeth eventually do fall out, it is important to care for them. Baby teeth help your child chew and speak properly, and hold space for permanent teeth. If your child has healthy baby teeth, chances are he or she will have healthy adult teeth, too.
 
Taking good care of baby’s first teeth is an important step in the health of permanent teeth. Here are some key dental care tips:
 
Don't let your child fall asleep while sucking a bottle that contains milk, formula, or sweet fluids. If you let sugary fluids sit in the baby’s mouth, you increase the likelihood of tooth decay.
 
Limit sugary beverages. Unsweetened fruit juices, teas, and water are best, according to the American Academy of General Dentistry. At bedtime, only offer water.
 
Before teeth come in, clean gums after feedings, using a damp washcloth.
 
Once teeth erupt, brush with water and a soft toothbrush every day. By age 2, or by the time your child can spit, use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste.
 
Oral disease, primarily dental caries, is the most common pediatric disease and can lead to physical and psychological disabilities as well as significant morbidity in adulthood. In May 2000, Dr David Satcher's landmark report, Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, highlighted the state of oral health for children and adults in the United States and offered strategies to improve oral health outcomes. The November/December issue of Academic Pediatrics, devoted entirely to children's oral health, represents a ''midterm examination'' of how far the US has come since the 2000 Surgeon General's report in meeting Healthy People 2010 oral health objectives and other key recommendations. 
 
Bringing together 19 contributions from experts in dentistry, medicine, nursing, and public policy, guest editors Wendy E. Mouradian and Rebecca L. Slayton have assembled an impressive summary of the state of children's oral health in the US and urge healthcare professionals to make oral health a pediatric priority. A number of papers were presented at the landmark American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) National Summit on Children's Oral Health: A New Era of Collaboration, held November 7-8, 2008 in Chicago. 
 
In his commentary, Editor-in-Chief Peter G. Szilagyi, University of Rochester Medical Center, asks the question, "Why should Academic Pediatrics devote an entire issue to children's oral health now?" His answers: "First, oral health is health, and children's oral health is part of pediatrics...Second, we are far from achieving our Healthy People 2010 oral health objectives in reducing the prevalence of caries in children...Third, substantial disparities exist in children's oral health and access to care...Fourth, oral health represents an excellent paradigm in which the traditional pediatric community needs to work more closely with other health professionals - in this case dental professionals - to advance the health of children." 
 
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