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Parenting advice: Childhood dental issues must be tackled early

Author James Dunsford
Submitted 01-08-2008

A dental expert has recommended that parents do not wait until their child develops a problem with their oral health to take them to the dentist.

"So much of dental care is reactionary; parents will bring their children in only if there’s a problem," Dr Mark Helpin, acting chair of the department of pediatric dentist at Temple University’s school of dentistry told the Kansas infoZine.

He cites figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show tooth decay is the most chronic childhood disease in the US.

This could be easily avoided, according to Dr Helpin, by following a few simple rules to maintaining good oral health and visiting the dentist regularly, typically every six months.

His parenting advice is for moms and dads to schedule their kids in for a dental visit as part of the going back to school ritual, in addition to taking them for their annual check-up at the pediatrician.

"It’s important to establish a relationship with a dentist the same way you would with a pediatrician," he remarked.

Dental experts frequently emphasize the importance of instilling good oral health habits in children from a young age and suggest that before a baby’s teeth come through, mothers and fathers should gently clean their gums daily with a soft piece of cloth.