Protect your child’s smile, establish good oral health habits early

Good oral health is important at any age, but especially for children. Developing good habits early in life and receiving preventative care will significantly improve their oral health into adulthood.

“Dental care for children has come a long way over the years,” said Dr. Marilyn Ketcham, Dental Director for Northwest Colorado Health. “Technology and new tools have allowed for pediatric dentistry to be much more comfortable than many adults might remember.”

One of the most common chronic health problems in children is tooth decay, or cavities. Cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning.

“The good news is that cavities can be prevented,” said Dr. Ketcham. “There are simple steps that parents can take to ensure their children’s smile starts healthy as an infant, and stays healthy as they grow up.”

Preventing Tooth Decay

  1. Children should have their first dental visit no later than one year of age. As soon as a baby has teeth, they can get cavities. Regular dental cleanings are important for preventing tooth decay.
  2. Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps make teeth stronger and it doesn’t take much to clean kids’ teeth. For children ages 0-3, you only need toothpaste the size of a grain of rice, and for children 3 and older a pea size amount of toothpaste.
  3. Kids should brush for two minutes, twice a day. Flossing is important for kids too!
  4. Eat healthy and avoid sugary food and beverages like soda and juice. Drinking fluoridated water can help protect teeth.
  5. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle. Long exposure to drinks that contain sugar (including milk) can cause Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. First teeth help make sure adult teeth come in correctly, so following good oral health care for infants will impact their smile for decades to come.

It’s never too late to develop good oral health habits. By committing to regular preventative dental care, you will reduce the risk of expensive treatments down the line. Unfortunately, many adults put off going to the dentist until tooth pain or other dental problems become severe. Limited dental insurance and cost of care is the main barrier for adults and children to receive regular dental care.

Addressing the cost issue is a huge step toward reaching people who need dental care. Northwest Colorado Health, which provides dental services in Steamboat Springs, Craig, and Oak Creek accepts Medicaid and allows patients to pay for services on a sliding scale if they don’t have insurance. This is helping people of all ages and financial situations receive dental care they need but otherwise might not get because of cost. Dental services are integrated with primary care and behavioral health care in Northwest Colorado Health’s clinics so that providers can meet a wider range of patients’ interconnected health needs.

“Over the past year and a half, we’ve really focused on improving the dental experience at our clinics,” said Dr. Ketcham. “We’ve remodeled our Dental Clinics, hired wonderful new Dentists, acquired state of the art tools, and focused on continuing education for our team to better serve patients of all ages.”

Preventative dental care, including checkups, cleanings, X-rays and sealants, is available at Northwest Colorado Health’s Community Health Centers in Steamboat Springs and Craig. Patients who need more extensive care, including extractions, dentures, fillings and crowns, can receive these services at Northwest Colorado Health’s Dental Clinics in Craig or Oak Creek. We are currently accepting new pediatric patients, ages 0-20, and after-school appointment times are available. To schedule your child’s dental appointment, please call 970-824-8000.


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