Cure Disease in Children: Teach them to Brush Their Teeth

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Did you know that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease found in children? It is five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever.
Each year, more than 51 million school hours are lost due to dental related problems. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 percent of two- to four-year-old children have experienced tooth decay, and 16 percent have untreated tooth decay. By age 17, more than seven percent of children have lost at least one permanent tooth due to decay. In Maryland, 31 percent of kindergarten and third grade children have tooth decay. If tooth decay remains untreated, it causes pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning.
Fortunately, with good oral health care habits, tooth decay can be prevented. Taking care of your children’s teeth – including baby teeth – from the very start is the key!
“A child should visit the dentist when his or her first tooth appears, or by his or her first birthday,” said Dr. C. Devadason, Charles County Health Officer. “And, it is important for parents to teach their children good oral health care habits, including proper brushing and flossing techniques, eating nutritious foods and regular visits to the dentist.” Parents should supervise brushing until children are seven to eight years old.
Since children learn oral health care from their parents, it is important that parents serve as a role model and practice good oral health care habits. Encourage children to “brush twice daily for two minutes for a healthy mouth and visit the dentist regularly,” said Dr. Devadason.
For more information about oral health programs and services available in Maryland and in your local area, visit the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Oral Health Web site at or contact The Charles County Department of Health for more information.
Tips for Preventing Tooth Decay in Children
  • Use a wet cloth to wipe baby’s gums after each feeding.
  • Use a soft brush or cotton swab to clean baby’s teeth daily.
  • Do not put baby to bed with a bottle, but if you do, put only water in the baby’s bottle.
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