Monday, February 14, 2011

Dental Health for Young Children #3

Before I begin speaking with you about today’s topic, I would like to tell you about the radio version of Bringing Up Baby for this Friday. I am pleased and honored to have as my ‘call-in’ guest, Dr. Harry Ireton, from Minnesota. I met Dr. Ireton, in 1985 at a conference about young children in Denver. We spent some time talking together and I learned that he was the originator of the Child Development Inventories, screening and assessment tools that I was using in my work. We will be talking together on the Talk Line program at 8:30 on WLDY this Friday, February 18. I hope you can listen in!

Today I’d like to wage war on the overuse of sippy cups and the use of a bottle filled with milk or formula as a way of putting babies to bed. Losing this war will mean serious dental carries for your child. Winning this war will mean healthy teeth.
Let’s start with the proper use of the bottle. A bottle or breast fed baby will have the formula or milk coating his teeth when he finishes eating. When a baby goes to sleep following a feeding, the salivary glands slow down in the production of saliva that helps rinse the teeth. When the sugar or the acid in the milk or juice stays on the teeth, the tooth enamel is at risk for decay. The longer the sugar or acid is on the teeth, the more risk for decay. A great strategy is to develop a habit of wiping that first little tooth with a clean damp cloth or putting water in a new bottle for the baby to ‘rinse’ his teeth. Drinking water after using a bottle will prevent ‘bottle mouth’, a condition of extreme dental decay that is both unsightly and painful for the child.
The next culprit in the war is the ever-present sippy cup. A sippy cup is a useful tool to help transition from bottle to cup. However when toddlers are allowed to carry their sippy cup with them all day long filled with ‘healthy’ juice, the acids and natural sugars in the juice will slowly erode the enamel of their teeth –another road to the condition of serious dental carries. If you use a sippy cup, do not overuse it. It is meant to be used for a limited time while eating and drinking a beverage.
But why should we be worried about cavities in baby teeth? The teeth fall out anyway. Right? Yes, the baby teeth are destined to leave, but before they do they have a few important jobs. One job is to provide adequate spaces for the permanent teeth that come in throughout childhood. If a baby tooth is lost early due to decay, the permanent tooth does not have a placeholder and it is likely the child’s teeth will be crooked. Crooked teeth are responsible for children feeling that they are not good looking. These kiddos lack confidence because they are concerned with how poorly they look.
Another job of the important baby teeth is to provide a healthy environment for the permanent teeth to move into. If children are plagued with dental carries, their mouths are filled with the vile bacteria from decay and the permanent teeth, moving in will be moving into a dirty home ready to spread decay.


Abraham Lincoln was a man
Who helped the slaves to be free.
He wore a tall hat
And had a dark beard
Our president was he.

All around the country
People were at war
Lincoln helped to save this land
And so much more.

Tune: Pop Goes the Weasel

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