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Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Contact: Richard T. Koenig
Phone: 202-547-7613
Fax: 202-546-1482

Protecting Your Child's Smile

As a child begins teething, a parent's thoughts focus on protecting those new teeth. How do I teach my child proper dental care? Is there enough fluoride in the water? How important are Ababy teeth" to my child's dental health?

Deciduous or baby teeth are needed because they hold the space for developing permanent teeth and are important in speech development and teach proper eating techniques," explains Dr. Dana Greenwald of the D.C. Dental Society. ADecay and loss of these teeth too early can cause harm to the growth and development of the permanent teeth. Genetics plays a large role in the acquisition of tooth decay and gum disease, there is a lot that parents and dentistry can do to prevent oral diseases."

First, fluoride is most effective when it is incorporated into the developing tooth enamel," says Dr. Greenwald. AThe enamel formed is much less likely to develop Asmooth surface" decay than if the enamel develops without fluoride and is exposed to it after eruption. That is why it is very important to determine if your child is receiving enough systemic fluoride through their diet or if they need supplements. Fluoride from toothpaste is effective for the teeth already erupted. Every time food is placed into the mouth, the decay process begins. The demineralization may be prevented with fluoride. If a tooth is beginning to decay, topical fluoride, such as with toothpaste, a rinse or in the saliva is the best line of defense against cavities."

If it has sugar, it can cause decay. Any food that places sugar in the mouth for long periods of time, such as lollipops, sticky candies and soda can cause decay. Carbohydrates, such as rice and pasta, should be brushed off teeth as soon as possible, since they are easily converted to sugars.

Sealants are important tools against tooth decay. Even if the enamel has fluoride in it, there are pits and grooves on the chewing surface of most back teeth. Since food and plaque are pushed into these surfaces each time you chew and these grooves are more narrow than a single toothbrush bristle, these are prime location for decay to start. Sealants are plastic-like material that is painlessly flowed into these grooves, making them smooth and therefore less likely to get chewing surface decay. A properly placed sealant is extremely effective in preventing chewing surface cavities.

Of course good oral hygiene is the best preventative measure you can take," says Dr. Greenwald. Not only is plaque the culprit in developing decay, but also the cause of gum and periodontal disease. Children can get gum disease and teens can develop periodontal disease. The best defense is to brush effectively at least twice a day, floss daily and to have regular exams and cleanings," continues Dr. Greenwald. The frequency of cleanings is dependent upon home care and dental history.

Dentistry for your children is much different than when you were a child. Techniques are more comfortable and dentists are trained to work with children. A good relationship with your dentist will make your child more comfortable at their visit. For more information on pediatric dentistry or a dental referral contact the District of Columbia Dental Society at (202) 547-7613.

For more information about oral health issues, visit www.dcdental.org and the American Dental Association Web site at www.ada.org.