Parenting Questions: Navigating pediatric dental health

Posted at 7:15 AM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 08:15:32-05

Statistics show that about 20 percent of children ages 5 to 11 have a least one untreated decayed tooth.

And while children will lose those baby teeth, there are many reasons as to why taking care of them are important.

And as many parents learn, it's getting children to brush their teeth or let you do it that can be a chore.

No matter how difficult the task, Pediatric Dentist Dr. Adrienne Reviere says that keeping those "baby" pearly whites in tip-top shape is important.

"Tooth decay is a big problem in kids. It can cause tooth aches, infections, loss of time from schools, effect quality of life, and the ability to eat and maintain good nutrition," says Dr. Reviere. "Baby teeth are very important. Having healthy baby teeth can set a child up for good oral healthcare for the rest of their life. "

Adrienne says that while making sure a child doesn't have a cavity is important, that's not the only thing they look for during the examination.

There's a slew of other issues that can arise throughout childhood. And catching those early, she says, is key.

"We're assessing the overall health and development of the child as a whole. The mouth is connected to the rest of the body. There are lots of things we can pick up early on in terms of their cranial facial growth, how their jaw is growing, how their skeleton is growing. Are there habits such as pacifier and thumb sucking. If we catch these things early then we can set them up for good oral health in the future."

And if you're unsure about when's a good time to let your kids brush on their own, Dr. Reviere has a simple rule of thumb.

"Once the child can tie their shoe or write in cursive, then most of the time their manual dexterity is good enough for them to brush on their own," she says.

Still, kids need help make sure nothing is left behind.

So whether you have a defiant "threenager" at home or a mostly brushing independent 6-year-old, making sure you're present to help is a major part of keeping those baby teeth and gums chomping into the future.