Children's Dental Health with Dr. Reddy

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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Arathi Reddy, DMD, the Dental Director at Bluestem Health, has answered a few frequently asked questions about children’s dental health to help you ensure your children get the best possible care for a healthy start in life. 

Why is children’s dental health so important?
Every child deserves a healthy start in life, but when it comes to oral health, many children face significant challenges. Over 40%-50% of children will be affected by tooth decay before age 5. Of the 4 million children born each year, more than half will have cavities by the time they reach 2nd grade. Tooth decay is five times more common than Asthma. Regular dental visits help your child stay cavity free. Good oral health is essential to a child’s behavioral, speech, language, and overall growth and development.

When should my child first see a dentist?
“First visit by First Birthday”. This visit will establish a dental home for your child. Early exam and preventative care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future. From then on, we recommend a visit every six months unless there is an issue in your child’s tooth development.

Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Cavities (baby bottle tooth decay or nursing cavities). The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. We do caries risk assessment during this visit which will help us to discuss prevention and risk management strategies that can help reduce child’s risk of developing cavities. For example: We educate parents about oral hygiene and diet, we suggest low sugar diet, no sippy cup or bottle to bed, we discuss frequency of snacking, drinking fluoridated tap water, limiting juices only to meal time, etc

What happens in a dental check-up?
Your child’s first dental visit will help your child become familiar with the staff and environment at Bluestem Health. Building trust with our youngest patients is key to their future dental health and the success of later visits.
The dentist will review your child’s medical and dental history. They will gently examine your child’s teeth, oral tissue and jaws. X-rays may be taken. The teeth will be cleaned and polished. We will give oral hygiene instructions and review brushing techniques to encourage parents to assist with brushing. We will discuss the amount of toothpaste to place on brush, etc followed by the application of fluoride varnish.