Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good oral and dental hygiene care. Researchers say, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, which effects 50 percent of first-graders and 90 percent of 18-year-olds. Early treatment can and will prevent these problems affecting our children's health, confidence, self-image, and overall achievements.
The National Institute of Craniofacial Research estimated that children will miss 52 hours of school each year due to oral health issues and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year due to dental symptoms. Since there is such a significant loss in their academic endeavors, the Surgeon General has made all 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. It is beneficial to start in the early infancy stage. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that good dental hygiene include the following:
1. Thoroughly cleaning your infant's gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
2. Gently brushing your baby's erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
3. Teaching your child at the age of 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques and later teaching them about brushing and gentle flossing until the age of 7 and 8 years old.
4. Regular visits with their dentist to check for any cavities in the primary teeth and for possible development problems.
5. Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like "pain" or "hurt," since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child's thought process.
6. Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discuss supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
7. Asking your hygienist or 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 liquids high in sugar.