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Friday, April 18, 2014

Milk teeth are there for a reason

Special to the Saipan Tribune

I have often heard parents on dental appointments tell me, when their children have cavities that, “It does not matter, they’re milk teeth, right?” Wrong! The milk teeth/baby teeth are there for a reason. Most children are not done losing their teeth until they are almost 10-12 years of age.

The reason we want baby teeth to stay healthy and in their mouth until they are ready to fall out is that (1) They hold the space for the grown up teeth to come in properly and, (2) It helps the child to be able to chew properly.

In order to make this happen, we recommend that parents help their children brush until they are at least 7 years old. We say this because most small children are not able to brush properly and get to all the teeth in the back like they should.

We recommend that you bring your child in when they get their first baby teeth: (1) so that we can check and make sure that everything is doing OK, (2) to give the dental professionals a chance to advise the parents on proper homecare, (3) and to get the child used to coming to the dentist.

The first thing that parents should do is to make sure not to put their children down for a nap or bedtime with a bottle or Sippy cup of milk or juice. Milk, even though it is good for them, has natural sugars in it that can rot the teeth very quickly. Children should have their three regular meals a day, and if they need to have a snack, give them fruits or vegetables and water to drink. Avoid sugary snacks, chips, juices, and candy.

Children should have regular checkups at least every six months by a dentist and hygienist to help catch cavities early and train your children how to take care of their teeth. Remember parents, you are in control of your children’s oral health. If you give them healthy foods and snacks, along with drinking more water rather than juices, you will be saving yourself and your child a lot of visits to the dentist, and in the end more money in your pocket that you would be spending to get the teeth fixed.

Florida Mpayamaguru is a registered dental hygienist at the Seventh Day Adventist Dental Clinic.

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