In honor of Children’s Dental Health Month, we asked Dr. Lucciola Lambruschini, Director of Dental Services for some tips about the benefits of oral health to help keep children’s smiles healthy!
1. Why is it so important to focus on children’s dental health early?
By properly educating parents early, we have a much higher chance of preventing decay. Caring for baby teeth is incredibly important because they will keep the space for the grown-up teeth when they come in.
2. What are the greater health implications of good dental health or bad dental health in children?
Bad dental health, meaning decay, is a focus of infection and if it is not treated properly it can compromise overall systemically. Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, learning, and even more missing school due to a toothache.
3. What are the most common dental issues you see in pediatric patients right now? How can they be prevented or treated?
Decay is the most common chronic disease in children, and the good news is that it is preventable.
We can prevent it with fluoride treatment applied during dental visits, which is recommended twice a year. It can also be prevented by doing sealants on permanent molars and brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
4. Should children who have other health issues pay particular attention to their dental health? Why?
While we should all pay attention to our teeth, children with immune diseases or those taking medications that cause dry mouth, in particular, should focus on their dental health because they can be even more prone to decay. In addition, children with diabetes are more vulnerable to periodontal disease (gum disease).
5. What can parents do to encourage children to develop healthy dental routines?
There are a few different ways we can encourage children:
- Let’s make it fun, use a cool tooth brush, character that they like
- Lead by example, brush your teeth, so they can copy you
- Find a toothpaste flavor that they like
- Create a reward chart and determine incentives
- Play their favorite song while they brush their teeth,
- Practice brushing by encouraging them brush their dolls teeth too
For more information on Catholic Charities DC’s Dental Services and keeping healthy smiles, visit our Dental Clinic page.