Local News

Dental Care Should Start With First Tooth

Posted June 5, 2003

— Most parents think they can wait a few years before taking their child to a dentist, but they may be missing a critical window to preventing tooth decay.

Most people do not realize tooth decay is the most common chronic condition in children. Ideally, parents should start cleaning their child's gums before the first tooth even appears.

"[Tooth decay] is five times more common than asthma. 40 percent of children have tooth decay by the time they enter kindergarten," said Dr. Sue Andrawes, pediatrician at Rex Heathcare.

The

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

recommends children visit a pediatric dentist when their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday.

Parents should start brushing their child's teeth as soon as the first tooth comes through. Flossing should start when teeth begin to touch -- usually around age three.

The bottom line is that preventing tooth decay is a lot easier than treating it.

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