BY BARRY WARNER
Every February, The American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health and regular dental checkups.
The Rockland County Times interviewed Marc W. Michalowicz, D.D.S. and Tushar Udeshi, D.D.S. of the Helen Hayes Dental Medicine Service that focuses exclusively on the dental and oral health care concerns of people with special needs. They indicated that baby teeth are very important for chewing, speaking and appearance. One serious issue that commonly arises is referred to as ‘baby bottle tooth decay.’ This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar, such as milk formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks. If the baby must have a bottle at bedtime, then it should be filled with water.
In addition, when children eat foods or drink liquids containing sugars and starches, the bacteria in the thin sticky film or plaque that forms on the teeth produces acids that attack tooth enamel and cause holes called cavities. If the teeth aren’t brushed well, the results may be tooth decay and possibly tooth loss.
For younger children, parents should help them brush their teeth twice a day with a child-sized toothbrush that has soft bristles. A fluoride toothpaste should be used, which helps prevent cavities. A balanced diet of protein, vitamins and minerals are necessary for decay-resistant teeth to develop properly.
New City Dentist Monica A. Barrera, D.D.S. said, “Having children examined regularly by a dentist create good habits for the future, when diseases of the gums can be detected and treated early. Screenings offer good opportunities for parents to be educated about their children’s oral health. Children that get a good start will be more willing to get other dental services as they mature, such as regular cleanings, sealants and braces.”
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