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February is National Children's Dental Health Month

Parents are urged to take children to the dentist early in life to avoid problems later. (Virginia Carter)
Parents are urged to take children to the dentist early in life to avoid problems later. (Virginia Carter)
February 22, 2017

CHICAGO – February is National Children's Dental Health Month and parents are being reminded of the importance of avoiding tooth decay because it can have long-term consequences for kids. Pediatric dentist and spokesperson for the American Academy of

Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Mira Albert, says one in three children in the U.S, age two to five is affected by tooth decay. She says while parents are taking charge of their children's health by choosing organic foods and being selective about the kinds of activities they participate in, often trips to the dentist are few and far between.

"Dental decay, especially in young children, can kind of go unnoticed and it can begin to cause a lot of pain and infection that can lead to lost school days and lost work days while you're having these things treated, and it can be quite painful and destructive," she explained.

Albert says tooth decay is preventable. She says parents should take their children to the dentist by age one to help them feel at ease for when they do have to have dental work done. She says they should avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle because it can lead to rampant cavities, and should help them break the habit of using a pacifier by age three because it can lead to an overbite or speech defect.

Albert says another tip is to limit between-meal snacking. When they do get hungry before lunch or dinner, she says to give them low-sugar, low-carb snacks such as apple slices or carrots.

"This constant exposure to high-carb, high-sugar foods and beverages bathes the teeth in these acidic components and lowers the PH in the mouth, and that makes the teeth very susceptible to tooth decay," she said.

Albert says teething is a normal process every child goes through and recommends avoiding teething gels that have medications. Instead, she says to use a cold washcloth, or gently massage the gums with your fingertips.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL