February is National Children's Dental Health Month

February is National Children's Dental Health Month

The American Dental Association created National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of children's dental health and to encourage parents to schedule their children's first visit to the dentist by age one. Early childhood tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting roughly 50 percent of children, and is caused by a combination of diet and bacteria in the mouth.

Infancy is a time when children are learning to eat solid foods and drink from a cup or bottle. This can cause new risks to their oral health as they begin to develop teeth and their tongue thrusts forward and causing them to stop eating at times. Using a bottle at bedtime or allowing your child to fall asleep with a sippy cup or bottle can lead to the development of early childhood caries. During their first visit, the pediatric dentist will evaluate for the risk of cavities in children and educate parents on the best methods of preventative care for their children.

The ADA recommends that children under the age of 3 should only have water as their main drink to avoid the risk of developing early childhood caries. Additionally, avoid sugary drinks such as juice and pop and replace them with milk or water. If your child is over the age of three, limit the number of sweet foods they consume and instead substitute those treats with healthier options such as cheese, yogurt, fruit, and vegetables.

Another risk to an infant's oral health is thumb sucking. Although it may soothe infants and put them to sleep, it can negatively affect the growth of the mouth and cause misalignment of their bite. Parents who notice that their child has a prolonged thumb-sucking habit should look into their options for making a retainer to stop children from developing malocclusions.

What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?

Tooth decay is caused by sugars that remain on your child's teeth after eating or drinking. Sugars feed the bacteria that live in the mouth, and these bacteria produce acids that attack the teeth and cause damage. Cavities are holes in the teeth that allow harmful oral bacteria and acids to reach the tooth's inner pulp chamber. Once there, the bacteria can cause infection and extreme pain.

You can help to prevent cavities by scheduling a visit with your children's pediatric dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. During these visits, the dentist will thoroughly examine each of your child's teeth and check for any signs of decay. The dentist can recommend treatments to protect their teeth from decay, such as fluoride treatments and dental sealants.

If your child does get a cavity, the dentist can provide restorative treatment options to restore the health and strength of the tooth. These options can include fillings, crowns, and root canals. For moderate to severe cases of tooth decay, tooth extraction can also be recommended to avoid further complications to your child's oral health.

Aurora Children's Dentistry, located in Anchorage, AK, offers the best dental care services to patients with the help of modern technologies and expert dentists. Dial (907) 336-1234 and schedule an appointment with our dentist to learn more about dental care services and receive a complete dental checkup. 

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