Oral health experts encourage parents to embrace and show more love to their kiddos by building good oral health early.
Dr. Frank Catalanotto is a professor of dentistry at the University of Florida and is the founder of Floridians for Dental Access.
He said getting babies used to the practice of cleaning includes using a soft cloth and water to gently rub a baby’s gums – and when their first teeth show up at around six months, he said it’s time for them to see a dentist, before age one.
“If the baby teeth are having problems, they are going to have problems with their adult teeth,” said Catalanotto. “But the bigger issue is it leads to impaired school performance. They just don’t do as well in school, and there is good data and research to support that. ”
Catalanotto said that also comes from emotional trauma and bullying if a child may have broken down or funny teeth.
But to counter any issues, he recommended encouraging children to brush after meals and for parents to do the same to help reinforce those good habits.
Paul McConnell is the dental director for United Healthcare. He dispelled a common misconception about cavities in baby teeth.
While some may believe they aren’t a concern because they are eventually lost, McConnell highlighted the potential for painful and long-term impacts on the development of adult teeth.
“Dental decay in baby teeth may negatively affect the permanent teeth that are developing underneath,” said McConnell, “and also lead to other issues such as pain, infection or even issues with speaking.”
McConnell added that despite being largely preventable, dental decay ranks as the most common chronic condition among children – with nearly 50% of kids having at least one cavity by the age of eight.
He recommended daily flossing, especially if you haven’t yet developed a health habit as an adult.
He noted that nearly half of adults 30 and older have some form of gum disease, increasing to 70% of people 65 and older.