NEWARK—Rather than waiting for the rush of back-to-school checkups, parents can ensure good dental health for children with appointments in the summer and all year long. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that a dental examination is as important as booster shots and should be part of every child’s health plan.
“Many parents and caregivers do not realize that serious tooth decay is an infectious disease for which there is no immunization,” says Abraham M. Speiser, DDS, GPR residency director, and chief of dental services at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. The dental department at NBIMC has been around for more than 75 years and is the largest hospital-based dental program in New Jersey.
More than one-half of all children aged 5 to 9 years have at least one cavity or filling. A painful tooth or chronic dental problem can lead to difficulty in eating, speaking and concentrating.
The Dental Department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and the ADA offer this information for a healthier checkup:
• Regular dental checkups and preventive dental care, such as cleanings and fluoride treatment, provide children with “smile” insurance. Routine dental examinations uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages. This helps prevent painful conditions and saves money.
• X-rays are taken to see how the teeth are developing and to spot hidden decay. Every child should have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. Early examination and treatment may prevent or reduce the severity of problems.
• Dental sealants keep teeth healthy. A sealant is applied to the back teeth (the premolars and molars), forming a barrier that protects teeth from plaque.
• Besides a dental checkup, your child may be due for a new toothbrush. The ADA recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months.
• Children may be able to brush their teeth by the age of 7 years, but need supervision brushing until about age 10 or 11 years. They need assistance flossing until age 10, with supervision after that.
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