Updated 12/12/2012 05:00 AM
Child Wellness Wednesday: Dental care for kids
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Fifty-one million school hours are lost because of problems with kids' teeth, an issue that can be prevented.
A baby's first set of teeth are called primary teeth and because the enamel is very thin and it doesn't take much for decay to find its way in between the teeth, flossing is important.
Dr. Christian Mathiesen said, "I find it important that parents try to find the time to floss their children's teeth."
As a child's teeth come in, they are usually a bit uneven, with grooves and crevasses where plaque can hide and cause decay. Sealant can help solve that problem.
Mathiesen said, "They are plastic coating, and they get into these defects. They fill them in and last for many years."
Sealants are placed on molars, around age six and again when the child's 12-year-old molars come in.
Mathiesen said, "They can wear off, and sometimes repairing them is not a bad idea. Well-placed sealants last three to six years, sometimes longer."
Kids and candy go hand in hand, so if you do allow some sugar, the less time in the mouth, the better.
Mathiesen said, "Anything that has sugar in it that is going to be sitting in the mouth for a period of time, whether it is gum or hard candy, is much worse than a candy bar, where you will be eating the candy and swallowing it and it will be out of the mouth."
Brushing after treats is always best, twice a day is the minimum with a soft bristle toothbrush and a fluoride rinse.
Mathiesen said, "We highly recommend fluoride with ortho treatment because of the orthodontic apparatus, it's hard to keep teeth clean."
If you live in a county where the water is not fluoridated, or your water supply is a well, be sure to talk to your dentist or pediatrician about supplementation.
Mathiesen said, "There are fluoride supplements that children can take and different dosage for different ages."