Give Your Child Smile Insurance

Jan. 29, 2002
Ohio Dental Association encourages parents and others who care for children to help ensure a lifetime of good oral health for our children.

February is National Children's Dental Health Month -- and the Ohio Dental Association encourages parents and others who care for children to help ensure a lifetime of good oral health for our children.
While 50 years ago, parents were advised that brushing three times a day was the key to healthy teeth, it takes more than the tooth fairy and brushing after every meal to help children ensure a healthy smile. Today, caring for the teeth is so much more than brushing -- dentists advocate for a child's overall good oral health in areas that encompass:

* proper nutrition and avoiding foods and drinks high in sugar and low in nutritional value
* flossing daily
* protecting the mouth by wearing a mouthguard during contact sports
* a regimen of daily fluoride -- parents should especially be aware that most bottled waters do not contain fluoride
* dental sealants
* avoiding the use of tobacco products, particularly smokeless tobacco because of its risk for oral cancer
* effects on teeth from thumbsucking
* regular visits (every six months) to the dentist
* a child's first visit to the dentist by age 1

Dr. Jeanne Nicolette of Columbus, president of the ODA, said "We like to always talk to children about what they eat and when, and how they clean their teeth -- that is absolutely important throughout their entire lives. We also stress the fact that unhealthy teeth can eventually lead to unhealthy bodies,
especially because of the bacterial connection between periodontal disease and heart disease."
Emphasizing all aspects of a child's good oral health is particularly strong in February during National Children's Dental Health Month - and the ODA is a strong source of information on oral health topics of interest and relevance to consumers and parents. Additional information on oral health can be found on , and for NCDHM, on the American Dental Association
web site, .
Following are some common oral health concerns to parents:

At what age should a child first visit the dentist?
By the first birthday. Baby teeth are important because they hold that space in the mouth for permanent teeth. Baby teeth lost too early can result in crooked teeth or overcrowding of adult teeth - and detract from a child's pretty, healthy smile.

What is baby bottle decay and what can parents do to protect their baby's teeth and gums?
Baby bottle decay is what happens when liquids such as formula, milk or juice in the baby bottle remains on the teeth and gums and normal mouth bacteria combines with the liquid to produce acids that can attack the teeth and gums. The problem is more related to how long the bottle is in the baby's mouth, not how often the child is given a bottle -- for example, it's not a
good idea to allow the child to fall asleep or nap with the bottle left in the mouth. Wipe the baby's gums with a clean gauze pad after each feeding to help remove the residual liquid left in the mouth and begin brushing the baby's teeth once the first tooth has erupted.

My child wants to pierce his tongue -- can that be safe?
The mouth is a natural haven for bacteria, and so oral piercing often results in infection. The potential also exists for chipped or cracked teeth from biting down on the jewelry -- and possibly swallowing and choking on the stud, in addition to swelling of the tongue, excessive bleeding, pain and more. In severe instances, Hepatitis C can result from improper techniques and non-sterile conditions during the piercing procedure. Another problem is that
most people who have their tongues pierced are not having the procedure done by a licensed medical professional.

Our water isn't fluoridated -- does that matter?
For over 50 years, fluoride has been demonstrated to reduce cavities in children and adults, and research indicates that fluoride will help early in the fight against tooth decay, often before decay is visible. The American Dental Association recommends that children between the ages of 3 and 16 need
a daily source of fluoride, and that should come from fluoridated drinking water, supplements, toothpaste or a fluoride rinse (used after age 6) or fluoride applied in the dentist's office.

ADA research indicates that fluoride reduces cavities up to 50 percent in children. The ADA also reports that as a result of fluoridation as a daily oral health measure, more than 50 percent of children entering first grade have never had a cavity. This is compared to just 28 percent who were cavity- free by grade one in 1970.

SOURCE Ohio Dental Association
CONTACT: Kathy L. Woodard of the Ohio Dental Association,
+1-614-486-2700, Web site: