Early dental care important for kids (via @SpectrumNews)

27 Oct

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Every Halloween, as many as 36.4 million American children don costumes and go trick-or-treating, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If your child will be one of the princesses or zombies roaming the streets this Friday evening in search of their share of the $19 billion of candy produced annually in the United States, you may have wondered just how bad all those sweets really are.

From the perspective of pediatric dentist Dr. Jeremy Scholzen, it depends.

“Candy raises the acid level in your mouth, creating a good environment for bacteria to grow.”

Scholzen said the longer the candy stays in your mouth, the worse it is for your teeth.

“The sticky stuff, the hard candy you suck on, and the chewy candy are especially bad because they stay in your mouth for a long time, whereas something like chocolate doesn’t,” he said.

Dr. Scholzen offers tips for protecting your child’s teeth.

Don’t put children to bed with a bottle or sippy cup

“The acid and sugar in juice or milk pools in the child’s mouth and will rot their teeth,” he said. “In fact, it is one of the main reasons for cavities in children.”

Brush your child’s teeth

“Brushing teeth gets the stuff out, changes the pH level and disrupts plaque,” Scholzen said. “Start as soon as their teeth come in. Use a child-sized regular toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride. When they are very young, a rice-sized piece of toothpaste is enough. If you can manage to get in there for 20 seconds a day, you’re being a pretty good parent.

“At age 2, you should be using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and brushing a little longer,” he continued. “Don’t worry about it if they swallow a little toothpaste. The fluoride will actually help them.”

Take your child to the dentist

“I hear so many times that adults hate going to the dentist. For most of my young patients, it can be more like going to adventure camp,” he said. “It’s not the dentist that everybody hates. It’s what the dentist does to fi x cavities. The best way to avoid hating the dentist is to brush your teeth twice a day and go see the dentist every six months.”

Dr. Scholzen maintains that when it comes to visiting the dentist, “For the most part, kids are actually a lot more fun and more well behaved than adults.”

Occasionally he sees a patient who is less cooperative.

“I remember when I was looking into careers, I was shadowing a dentist and this kid went ape crazy in the chair,” Scholzen recalled. “The dentist threw his mirror and gloves on his desk and said, ‘Well, I guess you could be a pediatric dentist.’ It made me wonder who would take care of children like that. Now it makes me feel good when I can take care of a kid that nobody else can.”

Source: http://www.thespectrum.com/story/life/2014/10/27/early-dental-care-important-kids/18018329/

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