When Should Dental Health Start?
Undoubtedly and despite the misgivings of many parents, dental health should start
during infancy, even before the child's first tooth emerges. If this is continued
up to school age, it is not an unlikely expectation that these children will be
well on their way to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
The secret to good oral health
Not many of us are naturally inclined to have a totally healthy mouth. Good oral
health will therefore be dependent on a number of proactive measures including:
frequent daily cleaning; consumption of adequate fluoride; the control of bad
oral habits (e.g. lip biting and thumb sucking); a wholesome diet with minimal
consumption of refined starches and sweets (especially between regular meals);
and periodic care by a dentist who is knowledgeable about the special oral needs
The importance of early prevention
The earlier in life that children are put on the "right dental track",
the beter their chances of being among the cavity-free generation and keeping
their own teeth for the rest of their lives. Parents should not be lax about baby
teeth. Decay and early loss can damage permanent teeth even before they grow,
and it is important that even a toothless baby receive frequent dental care.
A what age is a baby old enough for visit to the dentist?
As recent as a few years ago, some dentists suggested that parents should take
their toddlers to the dentist for the first time at or before the age of 2. Now
however (and rightly so), most pediatric dentists suggest an even earlier first
visit. By the age of 2, some poor oral habits and neglect can be all too well
established in the child and harder to reverse than if the right steps had been
taken at an earlier age (such as between the ages of 6 months and 1 year).
The importance of a well-balanced diet.
A well-balanced diet that is important for a child's general health and is also
important for the mouth and teeth. Such a diet should emphasize fruit & vegetables,
whole grains, dairy products and low-fat animal protein foods (meat, poultry and
fish). Too-frequent snacking on sweets and refined starches (including pretzels,
chocolate bars, crackers, sweetened dry cereal and dried fruit sticks), can reduce
a child's appetite for more wholesome foods and is also likely to promote tooth
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