February is National Children's Dental Health Month. The American Dental Association states a child's oral healthcare can have an impact on their health as an adult. However, by following some simple steps, oral health care can be drastically improved.
According to Dr. Richard Foreman, a dentist whose office is located in the village of Rouses Point, if children lose their teeth prematurely, usually before age 6, serious problems can result.
"Adult teeth can erupt into the spot and shift and move and it creates orthodontic problems. So, we try to take care of the teeth and keep the child healthy," Foreman explained.
The most obvious way is to brush teeth regularly. However, taking care of gums before teeth have erupted is important as well.
"Begin cleaning the baby's mouth during the first few days after birth," states the ADA. "After every feeding, wipe the baby's gums either with a clean, wet gauze pad or with a washcloth or towel."
Foreman also believes this technique can be used on teeth in young children, or you may use a finger toothbrush and gum massager with baby toothpaste. He does not suggest adult toothpaste, as it may be too strong for them.
"They might like a bubblegum flavor which is a little more mild," he said.
Foreman also suggests parents not let the child bring a bottle to bed unless it has water in it.
"A lot of people put their child down with a bottle and they think milk is okay. Milk has lactose in it, which is milk sugar," Foreman said.
If the milk lays on the child's teeth, it can cause cavities, he added. The same goes for juice.
Although the ADA suggests children should begin seeing a dentist at the age of 1, Foreman said it may be more difficult to work on a child that young, and recommends the age of 3. However, if it is necessary for a child to see a dentist, he suggests a pediatric dentist, who specializes in working with young children.