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Dr. Jeff Hiester
Dr. Jeff Hiester
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Importance of Dental Health

Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.

The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.

Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child's life—as early as infancy. A good oral hygiene routine for children includes:

  • Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
  • Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Begin teaching your child at an early age about proper brushing techniques and later teaching them brushing and gentle flossing.
  • Regularly visiting the dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
  • Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist.
  • Asking your dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.