Want some life saving advice? Ask your dental provider about proper oral health care for children

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Halima H. Burton, RDH
  • 412th Medical Group

During the month of April the 412th Medical Group made a comeback with dental outreach. The big ground breaking event took place at William A. Bailey elementary school, on Edwards Air Force Base, California. The dental clinic educated 425 children from T-K to 3rd grade on the pertinence of good oral hygiene. Oral hygiene bags were given to the students that contained fluoridated toothpaste, tooth brushes, floss and activity books.

Children’s Dental Health Month is usually held in February, but due to the pandemic from the end of March 2020 until now reaching our youth was at a standstill. Dental decay (cavities) is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting 50% of children by middle childhood and nearly 70% by late adolescence. Gum infection (gingivitis) is common among children.  Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene which leads to plaque buildup. Fortunately, most oral diseases can be prevented.    

The best way to ensure that your child does not get cavities or gingivitis is to instill proper oral hygiene habits early.  Oral health care is a job that begins even before a child gets his or her first tooth. You can help your child get a head start on having a healthy mouth and smile by wiping your infant’s gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad after each feeding to remove plaque and milk residue. 

Also, parents should clean the infant’s baby teeth as soon as they come in with a soft cloth or baby toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.  You should also avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle, unless it’s filled only with water. Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when children fall asleep with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or other sweet liquid in their mouths. It can also develop when children fall asleep while breastfeeding. The sugars from these liquids are left lingering on the child’s teeth.  Using these sugars as food, the bacteria in the mouth produce acids that attack the teeth, causing decay. 

At age two or three you can begin to teach your child proper brushing and flossing techniques.  But remember, you will need to monitor brushing and flossing until age seven or eight, when the child has the dexterity to do it alone.  Often there are natural spaces between baby’s teeth; therefore, you do not need to begin flossing until the teeth touch.  (This may occur in the molar areas first and you should floss your child’s teeth until he/she is six or seven years old or until he/she can tie his/her own shoelaces). 

Then, you should monitor their techniques and consistency.  Remember to start early and set a good example for your child by brushing, flossing, eating healthy foods, and scheduling regular dental visits for yourself.


Reference: www.ada.org and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Fact Sheet