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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Something to sink your teeth into: Advice from dentists




As parents, we worry about our children’s health, and how to keep children healthy. One aspect of health that is surprisingly overlooked, for both children and adults is good oral health. A recent survey of dentists from around the country done for Reader’s Digest revealed some insight into the importance of regular and consistent oral hygiene:

¨ Did you know that you should spend at least ten minutes brushing and flossing per day? Most adults spend 2-3 minutes tops, and children one minute or less. The same rule that applies for washing your hands applies to your teeth, cleanliness comes with time and good technique.

¨ An electric toothbrush is a good ally to good oral health, especially for
¨ kids. In some dentists’ opinion, the more expensive $75 and up models
¨ are the best.

¨ .If you can find a WaterPik, use it. Every day. No skipping. The device eliminates the circle of germs carried in the saliva that surrounds each tooth.

¨ Many dentists report seeing children from affluent homes with multiple cavities, and well-dressed children with rotten teeth. Dentists do feel that these conditions can be prevented with more stringent parental supervision.

NEVER, EVER, EVER let your baby or toddler go to sleep with the bottle and BE VIGILANT about keeping gums and budding teeth clean and free of milk after every feeding. This includes breastmilk.

The bacteria that causes cavities can be spread from mother to baby through the mother’s saliva. So, please, do not put the baby’s food in your mouth and then into baby’s mouth. Or let baby eat from your spoon/fork.

If you find that your child/ren are having difficulty in school, make an appointment with the dentist. At times, the squirming and not paying attention are symptoms of tooth problems, not ADD/ADHD.

Pay attention to baby teeth. If they are decayed or abscessed and have to be pulled, then the teeth that come in oftentimes crowd the spaces that should have had baby teeth in them.

For those teenagers who want to pierce their tongues, dentists recommend not to do it: if the environment is not 100% sterile, the risk for tongue infection increases, and in the most severe cases, pieces of the tongue have to be excised in order to stop the infection from spreading. Even if the tongue does not become infected, the front teeth usually suffer from chipping.

For parents who worry about mercury fillings in amalgam, most dentists state that removing the fillings to avoid mercury contamination will release more mercury than leaving them in.

Dentists know that most people avoid them like the plague; however, especially if you have insurance, the twice or thrice yearly visit to the dentist is a must. Dentists are vital components of the health care team, and can identify such conditions as diabetes and heart disease at an early stage. This is especially true when pregnant, since good health for the mother is good health for the baby.

*Reader’s Digest, July 2009

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