Moms First: Dental hygiene


More than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental-related illness. That's according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

Dr. Cara Kilgore, a dentist at Northpoint Pediatric dentistry in South Bend, says teaching good dental habits starts young.

"The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends six months after the eruption of their first baby tooth, which is pretty young--ends up being around 1-year old, and really at that appointment what we do is focus on education for the parents," Kilgore said.

Parents beware of the sugar monster. The number-one dental problem among preschoolers is tooth decay, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"I think a lot of it is due to drinks and other foods with hidden sugars, especially juices for drinks, soda, stuff like that," Kilgore said.

Kilgore says children need help with brushing until the age of 7 or older.

"Parents really do need to help children with brushing, especially young ones. They don't have the coordination to do it very well even if they want to do it themselves," Kilgore said.

Kilgore says don't be fooled that decaying baby teeth won't be a problem in the future.

"Although these are baby teeth, the baby molars don't fall out until between 10 to 13 years old, so the baby molars are not only important for chewing but for saving space for the permanent teeth to come in and the way your teeth will fit together as an adult," Kilgore said.

More than 40 percent of children nationwide will have cavities by the time they start kindergarten. Dentists say that can easily be avoided by remebering to brush daily and limit sugars.

Dentists recommend regular check ups for kids every six months starting around the toddler age.

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