How can parents encourage proper oral care?
The best thing a parent can do to encourage their child to brush is to start them off early, as an infant. They should make it part of their routine, even before teeth appear in the child's mouth. As they get older the parent should make it a game with a timer next to the toothbrush. At first, have them brush with you. See who can brush the longest. Kids love to use disclosing tablets. Have them chew one and show you how well they are doing. The best advice is to make it fun and develop a habit at an early age.
What are some of the most overlooked elements of child dental health in families?
Children may not be as effective at using a toothbrush when they are first learning to brush. An electric toothbrush will not only help them brush better but most are timed so the child will brush their teeth for the proper amount of time, leading to better oral health.
Also it is presumed that children can't develop gum disease. This is not true. Many children develop gingivitis or even juvenile periodontitis due to poor or non-existent oral care. It is also important to obtain early intervention for possible oral malformations so children should be seeing a dentist at the first sign of teeth in the mouth. A truly devastating practice is the use of a bottle left in a child's mouth while they sleep. This can lead to milk bottle caries (The destruction of primary (baby teeth) down to the gum line), which will lead to either root canal therapy or extraction of the affected teeth.
Dr. Adam Harwood is a leading endodontist located in Greenwich Village, New York, NY