Why Good Dental Health is Important
and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and
oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50
percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s
health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.
The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of
school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from
dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has
made children’s oral health a priority.
Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper
oral care early in a child's life—as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a
good oral hygiene routine for children includes:
- Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This
stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
- Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized
amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Teaching your child at age 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques and later teaching them brushing and gentle
flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
- Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental
- Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words
like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s
- Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with
your dentist or hygienist.
- Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces
and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.