DVIDS – News – U.S. Army Dentist shares best practices for children’s dental health

DVIDS – News – U.S. Army Dentist shares best practices for children’s dental health

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas – Kids don’t come with instructions, so one U.S. Army Dentist on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, shared what parents should know about helping their children establish good oral hygiene habits for life.

Start Early

“Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they erupt in the mouth. For most kids this is at age 6 months,” said Maj. Yu-Sheng (David) Chen, commander, Smith Dental Clinic.

He recommends using fluoridated toothpaste two times per day — in the morning and at night before bed.

“Many do this upon waking, as part of their normal morning routine, but I recommend waiting until after breakfast, which eliminates bacteria accumulated overnight and any food deposits from breakfast,” Chen said.

For infants, parents may use a clean finger or wear a specially designed silicone finger brush, brushing about six seconds per tooth, according to Chen. As infants get older and more teeth come in, parents can start brushing their child’s teeth with a regular, child-sized, soft bristle toothbrush for about two minutes total, twice a day.

“The correct amount of toothpaste for a child under two years old is the size of a grain of rice. For children, aged three and up, the correct amount is the size of a pea,” said Chen.

After brushing at bedtime, Chen said snacks or drinks containing sugar, including milk should not be allowed. Water is okay.

“Any substance consumed after brushing will remain on the teeth all night, which can cause tooth decay,” said Chen.

He said that flossing can wait a little bit longer for most kids.

“Most kids have good spacing in their primary dentition, or baby teeth,” Chen said. “It is still a good idea to start practicing flossing at age two. Then by age three, flossing is required every night at bedtime.”

Chen said starting oral hygiene early will reduce bacteria that can harm teeth and will help children get accustomed to dental care.

Visiting the Dentist

“Parents may schedule a visit to the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts, if they have any concerns, but if they are practicing good oral hygiene, it is okay to wait until the child is 18 months old,” Chen said. A dentist can ensure teeth are coming in properly and identify any problems early, he added.

Between visits, parents need to be the ones doing the brushing, up until about age six or seven.

“If a child cannot tie their own shoes or write their name legibly, a child does not have the fine motor skills necessary to brush their teeth well,” explained Chen.

Even children physically capable of brushing their teeth may not have the maturity and attention to detail that it takes to do a good job, he said.

“Up until about seven to 10 years of age, parents need to watch their children brush and make sure that they are removing all the plaque,” said Chen.

By the time children are teenagers, parents should still check the teeth periodically to make sure their teens are removing the plaque when brushing and not cutting corners, he warned.

“Cavities are preventable with good dental care,” said Chen.

In addition to twice daily brushing, and once daily flossing and rinsing, families should visit their dentist for regular check-ups, he recommended.

Eligible military family members can find a dentist through the TRICARE Dental Program. The program is an enrollment-based, voluntary dental plan for family members of active-duty service members.

To learn more about the TRICARE Dental Program and covered benefits visit https://tricare.mil/coveredservices/dental/tdp

Date Taken: 02.21.2024
Date Posted: 02.21.2024 16:35
Story ID: 464411

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DVIDS – News – U.S. Army Dentist shares best practices for children’s dental health

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