Take Care of Your Teeth

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, offering a reminder that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children. Locally, Illinois received a “B” grade for managing the oral health of children based on key measures such as optimally fluoridated water and the availability of school-based dental programs, according to The Pew Center on the States. Tooth decay in children can lead to poor eating habits, speech problems, oral infections and discolored, crooked and damaged adult teeth. Dr. Tony Sun, interim senior medical director for UnitedHealthcare of Illinois, is available to discuss this important topic and provide the following tips to improve the oral health of children in Illinois:

Tips for caring for baby’s teeth and gums:

    • Never put baby to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or fruit juice, as these drinks can form a sugary film on the baby’s teeth and lead to decay and infection.

    • Starting at birth, clean the baby’s gums with water and a soft cloth or child-sized tooth brush. Once a child reaches age 2, parents can start brushing a baby’s teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush and a smear-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste, making sure to teach the toddler to spit out the toothpaste.

    • Schedule the baby’s first dental visit when his/her first tooth comes in, usually between the child’s first six to 12 months.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Tips for caring for children’s teeth and gums:

  • Help your child brush twice a day with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste; for children 3-6 this means a pea-sized dab. When your child is pre-school age, assist with brushing to make sure teeth get clean and that your child does not swallow toothpaste, which may expose them to too much fluoride.
  • Begin flossing when back teeth begin to come in. This is important because toothbrush bristles can’t reach between teeth, leaving them vulnerable to bacteria.
  • Take your child to the dentist regularly and ask about sealants and fluoride supplements, which make the tooth enamel strong and help to protect it from decay. For most children, that means visiting the dentist twice a year.

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