Health Watch: Fairbanks pediatric dentist discusses importance of dental health in young children

Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 4:15 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - This February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, an American Dental Association awareness event to promote the benefits of good oral health in children. Dr. Dallin Young, pediatric dentist and operator of Young Smiles Children’s Dentistry told us about the importance of providing dental care to infants and young children.

“Dental health starts at an earlier age than maybe most people even know. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that infants be seen as early as six months after their first tooth grows in, or by their first year of age,” said Young.

Without early establishment of good dietary and brushing habits, children can develop cavities as early as age 2.

“Some advice that I would give parents at an infant exam would be to make sure nothing ever goes to bed with the infant except for water. Milk and juice can cause cavities really fast. One thing that I’ve found that can cause a very early childhood cavity issue is on demand nursing at nighttime. That can be something that causes really severe cavities at a very early age,” said Young.

As a result of tooth pain, children may develop detrimental habits and behaviors. They are less likely to eat chewier foods, which include the majority of healthy choices such as vegetables and high protein foods.

“A lot of parents will ask, ‘well why would we be that concerned about baby teeth because they’re eventually going to fall out?’ And that’s true, we all have 20 baby teeth that eventually fall out. But unfortunately, particularly some of the back teeth, the baby molars, may not fall out until kids are anywhere from eight and a half to 12 years old, sometimes a little later than that.”

According to Dr. Young it’s important to impress upon children a positive and optimistic attitude about visiting dentists and having dental care performed.

More information on National Children’s Dental Health Month including educational activity sheets for kids can be found at the American Dental Association’s website here.

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