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Utah Kids, Parents Urged to Take Care of Teeth

PHOTO: Getting kids to brush their teeth and floss, and reminding parents of the importance of oral health, are the goals of National Children's Dental Health Month. Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Health.
PHOTO: Getting kids to brush their teeth and floss, and reminding parents of the importance of oral health, are the goals of National Children's Dental Health Month. Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Health.
February 12, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY - Teaching young children and reminding parents of the value of good oral health is the mission of "National Children's Dental Health Month," sponsored each February by the American Dental Association.

Dr. Kim Michelson, State Dental Director at the Utah Department of Health, says about one in four children younger than age five already has cavities. He says taking care of teeth should start at an early age.

"As soon as you can see the first tooth coming in, at that point you can just take a washcloth or something and clean off that small little area of the tooth," he says. "Once the teeth start coming in a little bit more, then you'll want to start using a child-size toothbrush that's soft."

Michelson says good oral health means brushing teeth for two minutes twice a day, as well as daily flossing and regular dental checkups.

Diet is another important factor for good oral health. Michelson says parents should try to limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks their children consume to help avoid tooth decay. He adds that isn't the only reason for good nutrition.

"Eating regular healthy meals is important just for your overall health as well," says Michelson. "It can help reduce obesity. I think a lot of problems occur because of frequent snacking and eating in between meals."

Michelson says the State of Utah provides preventive and treatment services for hundreds of low-income and uninsured families in the state. For kids, those services can include dental sealants, fluoride varnish and treating dental diseases.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT