Proper care of your child's teeth and gums includes brushing and rinsing, routine dental exams, and any necessary treatments such as fluoride, extractions, fillings, or braces and other orthodontics.
Healthy teeth and gums are essential to your child's overall good health. Injured, diseased, or poorly developed teeth can result in poor nutrition, painful and dangerous infections, and problems with speech development and self-image.
CARING FOR AN INFANT'S TEETH
Even though newborns and infants do not have teeth, it is important to take care of their mouth and gums. Follow these tips:
Use a damp washcloth to wipe your infant's gums after each meal.
Do NOT put your infant or young child to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or sugar water. Use only water for bedtime bottles.
Begin using a soft toothbrush instead of a washcloth to clean your child's teeth as soon as his first tooth shows (usually between 5 - 8 months of age).
Ask your pediatrician if your infant needs fluoride added to his diet.
With an economy that might cause some parents to postpone regular dental visits for their children and tooth decay being the most prevalent chronic disease in America's children, the American Dental Association (ADA) is mobilizing dental professionals for the eighth consecutive year in a national campaign to extend necessary care to children and adolescents from low-income families.
On Friday, Feb. 5, during the eighth annual ADA Give Kids A Smile® program, some 50,000 dental professionals will volunteer and provide free services for over 320,000 children at 2,000 sites throughout the country.
Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that tooth decay is on the rise for preschoolers. In addition, children five to seven years of age are estimated to lose more than 7 million school hours annually because of dental problems.
Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) is the ADA's major oral health outreach program, launched to encourage parents, health professionals and policymakers to address this important health issue. "We all know that a one-day event is not a delivery system and cannot solve the ongoing problem of untreated dental disease," stressed ADA President Ronald L. Tankersley, D.D.S. "It is important that policymakers at the federal and state level strengthen dental provisions in public health programs to help put children on the road to good oral health."
At the various sites, GKAS dental volunteers will provide educational materials, screenings and, where possible, free dental care such as cleanings, X-rays and fillings.
"Although many children will benefit from the services provided through Give Kids A Smile, our concern is for the countless others who continue to suffer from untreated dental disease," said Dr. Tankersley. "We will continue to advocate for a larger and lasting way, through public policy, to ensure that kids who have been falling through the cracks in our delivery system receive the attention they need."