INDIANAPOLIS–Halloween is a time for costumes and candy. It is also a time to remember the importance of oral health as it can be difficult for children to enjoy this occasion without healthy teeth.
“Healthy teeth and a beautiful smile are a wonderful asset for children of all ages, and with a little help can be enjoyed for a lifetime,” said the State Oral Health Director James R. Miller, D.D.S., M.S.D., Ph.D.
Protecting a child’s teeth should begin in the first year. Children should go to the dentist as early as six months of age and no later than the child’s first birthday. Often, the first dentist visit is a “well-baby checkup” in order to establish a dental home for the child. Besides the teeth being checked for tooth decay and other problems, the dentist can educate parents on habits that will establish healthy teeth for a lifetime.
Baby teeth begin coming through the gums at around six months of age. Once baby teeth are visible, they are subject to tooth decay, which if left untreated during the earliest stages of life, can have serious implications for a child’s long-term health and well-being. By establishing a dental home by age one, parents are working to prevent tooth decay, making it possible to raise a cavity-free child.
“Pediatric dentists see the consequences all too often of parents and children not having established a dental home by age one,” said Sean Cook, D.D.S., M.S.D., of the Indiana Society of Pediatric Dentistry. “Prevention, such as going to the dentist at an early age, is the key to healthy teeth.”
Not only do dental associations such as the Indiana Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry emphasize these recommendations, so does the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Tooth decay is the most preventable disease among children-five times more common than asthma,” said Beth Summers, M.D, PhD, an Indiana Chapter Oral Health Advocate for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Pediatricians play a supportive role by discussing the importance of oral health with parents and referring them to a dental office where their children receive care. In this way, pediatricians help put children on the right track to a lifetime of healthy teeth.”
To find a dentist, call the Indiana Family Helpline at 1-855-HELP-1ST (1-855-435-7178) or visit the Oral Health Program webpage on the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at In.gov/isdh/25292.htm.
For more information about the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, visit Aapd.org.