Strong Families from the Start
Dental Health Starts at the Beginning of Life
February is dental health awareness month and many of us may think of that being for our older children or us as adults. ABC Cayuga is working with the health department to share the word that dental health starts with the youngest members of our community.
As parents and caregivers to infants we all eagerly await to see the little ones first tooth but what many may not know is the importance of caring for that tooth right from the beginning. The Children’s Dental Health Project states that the number one chronic disease in children is tooth decay. The American Dental Association has called this a “significant public health problem.” That is why Deanna Hoey, Public Educator for the Cayuga County Health Department, has begun a targeted effort focused on addressing this issue for us locally and wants to help us as a county understand ECC, or Early Childhood Carries. ECC simply put is the presence of tooth decay in at least one tooth of a child below the age of 6. The decay can then lead to problems that will affect a child’s ability to eat, sleep, speak and learn.
The key is similar for these young children as it is to us as adults. Prevention is key and we need to do more to address the importance of good dental health from the beginning of life. Many of us as parents think of waiting until preschool or sometimes even kindergarten to start those dental visits but it’s important to start even earlier and to find a good dentist for your little one. It’s also important to try to work on cleaning your little ones teeth to prevent the buildup of plaque. It is recommended to be brushing your little one’s teeth daily and to try to avoid or limit the sugary drinks your little ones may love. Additionally you should try to avoid putting your little one to bed with a bottle at night as it can really lead to build up and tooth decay. Your pediatrician may also recommend a fluoride supplement to have your little one take since currently we do not have fluoride in our drinking water.
The good news is that Hoey, and her team at the Health Department, are working on compiling a list of dentists in the Cayuga County area and would like to eventually have a listing that lets you know who will see your little ones too. We all love to see bright and shining smiles from our friends and loved ones. Now is the time to start thinking of how we can help our youngest community members who are finding their voices to get the early dental health help they need. The time and energy we spend now in preventive efforts will save much later on the losses and corrective costs that come with restoring dental health.