Smile! Early visits to the dentist are important for children’s teeth

Many dentists recommend children go to the dentist by the time they're a year old. (Source:...
Many dentists recommend children go to the dentist by the time they're a year old. (Source: file photo)
Updated: Feb. 7, 2019 at 12:50 PM CST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As February is National Children’s Dental Health month, the Centers for Disease Control reports many kids are brushing with too much toothpaste.

This can be a bad thing leading to broken down enamel and tooth decay.

Children enter the world with cute gummy little smiles, but caring for your kids’ teeth is important from the start.

A new survey found that early visits to the dentist were not “standard” practice in most families with young children. In fact, 74 percent of parents say they didn’t take kids to the dentist by their first birthday, which many dentists say is an important guideline.

“This allows us to establish a dental home – it’s basically a home base for the children and it allows us to begin to educate the parents and the children and establish that relationship to give them the necessary information so that they can have a childhood free of cavities,” said Dr. Joe Castellano, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Young children should also brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time. Have them brush teeth before heading out to school (or after breakfast), and before heading to bed.

Be wary of developing a pacifier or thumb habit for too long - it can lead to crooked teeth or bite problems.

“And so addressing it early, trying to break the habit, which we usually recommend starting about 18 months, really helps reduce the chance that it will continue on and the child may have problems in the future,” said Castellano.

And here’s a tough one - you’ll be tempted to grab snacks like pouches, granola bars, or fruit snacks.

While they’re great on the go, they may not be the best option for your kid’s teeth.

“We like to think that granola bars or fruit rollups or fruit pouches are all healthy because they have fruit in them – but they also have high concentrations of sugar and they are very sticky. So, the longer that that sugar sticks to the teeth, the greater the risk that they can have cavities,” said Castellano.

Instead, consider fresh veggies - or cheese, which promotes saliva flow, decreasing the risk of decay.

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