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Help your children reduce risk of tooth decay

Published On: Jan 28 2014 10:23:23 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 12 2014 03:39:00 PM CST

(NewsUSA) - Did you know that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States? The good news is it can be prevented. This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants to remind parents to "think teeth."

Parents can help children combat cavities and tooth decay by practicing good daily oral hygiene -- even at an early age. Ask your pediatrician about your baby's oral health at the six-month check-up. And start regular dental check-ups beginning at age one.

Reducing Risk of Tooth Decay

"Children's access to dental services is essential to maintaining good oral health and reducing the risk of tooth decay," says Dr. Lynn D. Mouden, Chief Dental Officer with HHS' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal government agency that oversees Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). "If children don't already have dental coverage, they may be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, which includes teeth cleanings, check-ups, x-rays, fluoride, dental sealants and fillings."

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria interacting with sugars in the mouth. The bacteria can be passed from parent to child when, for example, they share spoons or cups. If untreated, this dental disease can result in difficulty eating and speaking, and can interfere with physical and social development and school performance. Tooth decay can be prevented. Using a fluoride varnish, fluoride painted on the teeth, protects "baby" teeth. Dental sealants, plastic coatings that keep bacteria and sugars away from areas most likely to decay, protect back teeth.

"Simple steps to help prevent tooth decay can begin when a child is a baby," says Dr. Mouden. "Put only water, milk or formula in bottles or sippy cups, and never put babies to bed with a bottle. And as your child gets older, limit sugary foods and drinks and make sure he or she brushes twice a day for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste."

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