Welcome to the Lighthouse Dental blog, Westminster, Colorado’s source for the latest oral health news!
Dr. Sefcik and the rest of our staff at Lighthouse Dental strongly believe that quality oral health means a stronger, healthier community overall. To ensure that every member of our Westminster community has the knowledge they need to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, we’re excited to bring you our monthly blog where we will touch upon all the latest news and health tips needed to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, we thought it the perfect time to discuss the importance of maintaining and protecting a child’s oral health.
From birth into adulthood, a child’s oral health has a significant impact on his or her physical and mental development.
Infant Oral Health
While many parents may not consider their child’s oral health all that important at such a young age, a number of serious oral health concerns can be successfully avoided by practicing a daily oral hygiene routine.
Baby bottle tooth decay, or infant dental carries, develops when parents allow sweet liquids to remain in a child’s mouth after feeding. Typically this occurs whenever a parent gives a child a bottle when laying her down for a nap. Formula and breast milk both contain sugars that feed oral bacteria called plaque, causing it produce harmful substances that can erode tooth enamel.
As a child sleeps after feeding, the sugars in breast milk and formula remain in the mouth and provide plaque with all the fuel it needs to cause serious damage to her vulnerable, still developing teeth. Decayed baby teeth can make it difficult for a child to learn how to properly eat solid foods and could lead to the development of a speech impediment. Should decay cause a child’s baby teeth to fall out at an early age, she could suffer from crooked or crowded teeth once her permanent teeth begin to form.
To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, parents should make it a point to never lay their child down with a bottle that contains anything other than water. Parents should also gently wipe their child’s gums with a soft rag following each cleaning, and brush their child’s teeth with a child-sized toothbrush once her baby teeth begin to develop. However, parents should avoid using toothpaste when brushing their child’s teeth until the child can control her swallow reflex, which typically begins to develop around the age of two or three.
Adolescent Oral Health
Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that millions of children living in the U.S. suffer from untreated tooth decay. In fact, tooth decay ranks as the most common chronic disease among children between the ages of six to 11.
In addition to causing children unnecessary pain and discomfort, studies have found that untreated tooth decay can negatively impact a child’s educational development. This happens in a couple of ways.
First, children in pain from decay and cavities have a harder time paying attention in class, causing them to develop more slowly when compared to kids with healthy teeth.
Second, studies have found that children with untreated tooth decay miss more class due to staying home sick because of tooth pain. Missing class also causes a child to delay their educational development, as well.
Parents can help to prevent their kids from suffering from untreated tooth decay by regularly scheduling dental checks and cleanings with Dr. Sefcik and the rest of our staff at Lighthouse Dental. Regular visits to our Westminster dentist’s office provides Dr. Sefcik the opportunity to spot the signs of decay early on when still easily treatable. Parents will be amazed at how much happier their child will be when he or she has a healthy mouth.
A lifetime of great oral health is possible for all kids. Parents just need to make sure they place their kid’s oral health as a top priority.
If you have any questions about the best practices for maintaining and improving your child’s oral health, please feel free to ask Dr. Sefcik or any member of our Lighthouse Dental staff during your next appointment.