Bivens: Good dental health starts early for children

Published 4:43 pm Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I recently presented a dental care and hygiene workshop to youth at J. L. Fisher Community Development Center in Brewton and Castleberry Community Center and talked about the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables and taking care of their teeth now while they are young.
I read them a story on Brushing Well and her friend “Big Al” (alligator teaching tool) and showed the youth how to properly floss and brush their teeth using fluoride toothpaste.
The workshop was one of a series of workshops and visits the youth have enjoyed from community workers this summer. Special thanks are extended to the following for supplying dental paraphernalia for the students – Drs. James Deatherage, Keith Miller and Reese Robinson; Franklin Primary Health Center-Brewton Family Dental Clinic, Brewton Public Library, and Adrienne B. Henry. The program was sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Escambia County Office.
Many parents have a tough time judging how much dental care their kids need. They know they want to prevent cavities, but they don’t always know the best way to do so.
Brushing at least twice a day and routine flossing will help maintain a healthy mouth. Kids as young as age 2 or 3 can begin to use toothpaste when brushing, under supervision. Kids should not use a lot of toothpaste — a pea-sized amount for toddlers is just right. Parents should always make sure that kids spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing.
As your child’s permanent teeth grow in, the dentist can help seal out decay by applying a thin wash of resin to the back teeth, where most chewing occurs. Known as a sealant, this protective coating keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach crevices of the molars.
Dental research has resulted in better preventive techniques, including fillings and sealants that seep fluoride, but seeing a dentist is only part of good tooth care. Home care is equally important. For example, sealants on the teeth do not mean that a child can eat lots of sweets or skip daily brushing and flossing — parents must work with kids to teach good oral health habits.
As kids grow, plan on routine dental checkups anywhere from once every three months to once a year, depending on the dentist’s recommendations. Limiting intake of sugary foods and regular brushing and flossing all contribute to a child’s dental health. Your partnership with the dentist will help ensure healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.

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