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On the Horizon for Public Health: Cavities are preventable, and other facts for children's dental health

Do you know babies should see the dentist when they have even one tooth? Or, at 12 months of age even if they don’t have any teeth yet?

Marcia Schroeder

ALEXANDRIA — February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Here are some facts you do know and some facts you might not know about dental health. We know we need to brush our teeth at least twice a day; in the morning and before bed. We know flossing between teeth is important and prevents tooth decay. We know that seeing a dentist every six months is important for our dental health. We know that limiting sugar and sugary drinks is healthy for our teeth. We know fluoride helps to prevent cavities.

But, do you know babies should see the dentist when they have even one tooth? Or, at 12 months of age even if they don’t have any teeth yet?

Do you know that when two baby teeth touch, you need to floss between them?

Do you know germs (bacteria) that cause tooth decay live in saliva as well as on teeth? Parents and other caregivers shouldn’t let their saliva get near a baby’s mouth. Try to avoid letting your baby put their fingers in your mouth and always clean your baby’s pacifier under running water.

Do you know that parents need to help brush their children’s teeth until they are 8 or 9 years old? Along the way, teach them proper and effective brushing techniques.


Do you know cavities in young children can be painful and are the most common reason for missing school? When children have pain, they don’t concentrate on learning.

Do you know that cavities are infections and are completely preventable? Teaching good dental habits such as twice daily brushing, limiting sugary foods and drinks, and not putting baby to sleep with a bottle with anything but water in it will help prevent cavities. The germs that cause tooth decay can feed off of almost anything except water.

Do you know cavities can lead to speech and eating problems and the loss of baby teeth? Losing baby teeth to cavities can cause cavities in permanent teeth, in addition to creating spacing problems for permanent teeth.

Do you know fluoride is very important to keeping children’s teeth healthy? It helps protect the enamel on teeth making teeth strong and helps fight cavities. It is found in most city water supplies and most types of toothpaste. Toothpastes that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain fluoride, have met the criteria for being safe and effective and are recommended most by dentists.

Do you know because there is fluoride in city water supplies, it’s important to use tap water when mixing formula for a baby’s bottle?

Each February the American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. You can learn more about dental health and fluoride by typing “dental cavities” into the search bar on both the www.health.state.mn.us and www.ada.org websites.

Marcia Schroeder is a registered nurse with Horizon Public Health, which serves five counties, including Douglas County. Contact Schroeder at marcias@horizonph.org.

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