Health Officials Tout Importance of Children's Dental Health - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Health Officials Tout Importance of Children's Dental Health

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Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting children, and health officials with Two Rivers Public Health Department are sharing the importance of good dental health.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 60 percent of American children will have had tooth decay by five years of age. Tooth decay is a communicable disease, meaning it is spread from person to person -- most commonly from the mother to the baby.

Oral health can have a direct impact on children's ability to learn. Officials say if children are in pain from toothaches, they may have difficulties concentrating in class. Additionally, if they have to miss school due to dental problems, students are more likely to fall behind.

Oral health also has a direct link to the body's overall health. People with good oral health have been shown to be at a lower risk of heart disease, complications from diabetes and oral cancer.

Health officials do have a few tips for parents and caregivers to encourage good oral health in their children. They are:

  • Parents should help their children with brushing and flossing. Children don't have the skills needed to brush properly until ages 6 to 8, and aren't able to floss correctly until age 10. Use pea-sized amounts of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Let your child help by picking toothpaste containing fluoride and toothbrushes from options you approve.
  • Parents should schedule appointments with a dentist by one year of age.
  • Limit sugary drinks and foods -- soda, juice drinks, sports drinks and sugary foods all contribute to decay. These products add to the decay process each time they touch the tooth.
  • Fluoride varnish and dental sealants are effective preventive treatments that your dentist or dental hygienist can provide.
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