Good oral health for kids should be a top priority. The pandemic has made it hard for many people to get the oral health care they need, especially for the kids. About 50% of the adult population is unhappy with their teeth. Oral health for kids can help to prevent feelings of dissatisfaction with teeth as an adult.
The brunt of professional dental care for kids will be focused on prevention and making sure those primary (baby) teeth stay healthy and that secondary teeth all come in as they should. Good oral health for kids is essential for overall good health.
Good Oral Health for Kids Improves Their Future
According to the World Health Organization, “dental disease is one of the most prevalent yet preventable diseases children face.” About 34 million hours of school are missed each year because of dental disease.
Good oral health for kids keeps kids in school learning where they should be. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) calls dental cavities a catalyst of pain and suffering for children that can affect their development. Cavities occur more frequently than they should. Children suffer from dental disease 4 times more than they suffer from other diseases, like asthma. Untreated dental disease can come with dire health consequences.
Untreated dental disease can affect speech development. It can also progress to systemic disease and affect other organs. It can, in extreme cases, result in death. A study found that from 2000 to 2008, there were more than 60,000 hospitalizations across the United States because of the spread of infection from an infected tooth. At least 66 deaths were recorded. Those were needless deaths.
Studies indicate that absences due to mouth pain affect overall school performance and leave children behind in education compared to their peers who enjoy good oral health for kids. Dental disease is completely preventable. That means that no child has to suffer in pain and deal with the consequences of dental disease. Every child can enjoy good oral health for kids.
Children who experience good oral health for kids have a brighter future:
- They do not suffer in pain and do not miss school because of mouth pain.
- Their health is not at risk because of dental infections.
- Dental problems do not impair their ability to eat well, and dental problems do not impair their speech development.
Children who enjoy good oral health for kids feel more confident in their smile and can simply be kids without worrying about pain.
Getting a child on the path to good oral health starts as soon as the teeth erupt. Seeing a pediatric dentist early on is one of the best ways to get your child on the path of good oral health for kids. Many parents do not know that their child should start seeing the dentist at about a year old.
The earlier your child starts seeing the dentist, the better. Preventive dentistry early on can help to improve the odds that your child will never have a cavity. Most people believe that having cavities as a child, and sometimes even as an adult, is just par for the course. The fact is cavities are completely preventable.
Good oral health for kids that is started early can put your child on the path to never experience the pain of a cavity. A pediatric dentist is the best choice for young children because they have the experience of working with young children and are specialists in oral health for kids.
While it is very important to get professional dental services for your child, a big part of oral health for kids depends on what is happening at home. Here are some tips for helping you to encourage good oral health habits:
- Young children need help with their oral health routine. You can assist your child by using a soft cloth to clean teeth as soon as they erupt. Dentists recommend that you start wiping down gums before the teeth ever erupt. By the age of one, you can use a soft-bristle toothbrush to brush their teeth. Until your child is between the ages of six and nine years old, you may have to continue to brush for them.
- You are in charge of their diet. Diet plays a tremendous role in good oral health for kids. Keep sugary drinks and sticky sweets out of the house. Never let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth. When they are old enough to drink water, make it a primary drink.
- Practice what you preach. Children learn by modeling. Let your child see you brushing and flossing, and it will drive interest in doing the same.
A recent study found that five-year-old children only brushed about 25% of the surfaces of their teeth when left to their own accord. Brushing and flossing is a must for good oral health for any age group. Getting involved with your child’s oral hygiene can ensure that every tooth is getting brushed. Every child is different and develops different skill sets at different ages. You know your child better than anyone. If you see they need help managing brushing and flossing, provide it.
Nutrition will affect the health of your child’s teeth greatly. What they eat, when they eat it, and what they drink all play a role in helping to keep their teeth healthy. A good diet that is low in sugar can help to be one of the best preventive steps for good oral health for kids. Many new parents make the mistake of letting their baby fall asleep with a bottle. This can cause what’s known as “baby bottle mouth.” This condition causes a tremendous amount of decay. A good rule of thumb is not to put a baby to bed with a bottle. This condition causes painful dental problems for the child and can cause problems with the primary set of teeth and the secondary teeth.The bacteria that causes cavities feeds off of sugar. There is high sugar content in most formulas. Fruit juices are also a culprit when it comes to this condition.
An old myth about baby teeth still lingers today. Many people believe that since primary or baby teeth fall out, anything that happens to them does not matter. The fact is, those primary teeth or baby teeth, are critically important to good oral health for kids. The development of secondary teeth or permanent teeth depends heavily on the good health of primary teeth.
Getting Your Child The Professional Care They Need
A family dentistry practice can help you to get your child on the right track with good oral health for kids. There are preventive treatments like sealants and professional cleanings that can help to protect your child’s teeth.
Dental services are essential services for your child’s good health. Of course, many parents are concerned about COVID 19 spread and visiting the dentist. Most dental activities have resumed and have changed how they provide services to help protect the public.
Most experts agree that it is far more detrimental not to get dental services because of the pandemic than the risk of exposure. The risk of exposure to COVID 19 at local dentists is very low. Dental offices follow the strictest CDC guidelines of the prevention of COVID 19 spread. As a matter of fact, the best dentist was already focused on minimizing exposure to cross-contamination threats long before COVID 19.
Most dental offices have adopted policies like temperature checks of every patient before they walk in the door, keeping the waiting room empty by asking patients to wait in the car until they can be escorted right to the treatment room, and ensuring employees are screened regularly for COVID 19. A dental office is a very safe and cautious environment.
Time moves quickly with children. Development does not stop for a pandemic or anything else. Many parents do not realize that children as young as seven should be seeing orthodontists if their general dentist suspects the need for braces. The pandemic may have put a halt to professional dental care for a little while so that dental offices could make changes to protect their patients, but they are back, and you should be back on track with your child’s oral health care.
What if You Cannot Afford to Take Your Child To The Dentist?
There is a dental care crisis in the United States. Some families can secure dental health insurance through their employer. Some families that meet income criteria can secure dental health insurance from the state, but some families fall between the cracks. If your employer does not offer dental insurance, yet you make too much money to qualify for dental insurance from the state, what do you do?
The first thing you can do if affording dental care seems out of reach for your family is to ensure that you are doing everything that you can at home to promote good oral health for kids. Brushing, flossing, and a tooth-healthy diet can help while you search for resources to get your child professional dental care.
There are organizations that can help. Dentists are well aware of the consequences to a child’s health when they cannot get professional dental care. Children miss school, suffer in pain, and face long-reaching consequences without professional interventions.
Some dental clinics and dentists offer pro bono work (that means free) to provide good oral health for kids. Just about every community has some form of help. America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF), founded in 2006, can help you find the resources to ensure that your child gets the care they need.
Americas ToothFairy: Who They Are And What They Do
Americas ToothFairy has been able to provide $22.3 million in educational materials, programming support, dental tools, equipment, and more, thanks to generous donors. The goal of this organization is to help to make a dent in the oral health care crisis in the United States.
They act as a resource finder for families that need dental care support and cannot afford it. They have programs in place for:
- Help finding member clinics. They have a network of non-profit clinics that provide dental care to children in need.
- They support clinics with financial grants and equipment so those clinics can continue to see children free of charge or on a sliding scale.
- They have an In the Gap Program that provides grants for patients to receive restoration care and more through the DRP clinics.
America’s Toothfairy feels that no child or young adult should live in pain and feel ashamed of their smile. They strive to spread education resources about good oral health for kids, treatment options, and support for those clinics that are taking care of the families that fall through the cracks in our health care system.
This organization can be the group that helps you find dental care for your kids at an affordable price. In some cases, the cost is free with a grant from the group. Good oral health for kids is so important for today and their future.
There are many ways that you can help improve oral health for kids right in your own community. You do not have to be a dental professional to make a difference. Of course, if you are a dental professional, you can have a tremendous impact.
Donate your time, donate your services, donate equipment, share educational materials. Ask your school if they have a dental education program in place. If you can afford to, you can also donate cash to help a child get the oral health care they need. There are many ways you can be making a difference.
Good oral health for kids is everyone’s problem. Someday these children will be our leaders, and we need them to be healthy and feel good about their smiles. You can make a difference whether as a parent with your own kids or for the community.