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 oral health into adulthood.
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. 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 decay.
Preventative dental care for kids, including checkups, cleanings, X-rays and sealants, is available at Northwest Colorado Health’s Community Health Centers and the School-Based Health Mobile Dental Clinic. Insurance, including Medicaid, is accepted and patients without insurance can pay for services on a sliding scale, making dental care more affordable and accessible for families. Call 970-824-8000 to make an appointment for your child at the Community Health Center, or 970-870-4158 for the school-based mobile clinic.
There are also simple steps that parents can take at home to ensure their children’s smile starts healthy as an infant, and stays healthy as they grow.
- 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.
- Kids should brush for two minutes, twice a day. Flossing is important for kids too!
- Eat healthy and avoid sugary food and beverages like soda and juice. Drinking fluoridated water can help protect teeth.
- 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.
If you are looking for additional education around keeping your young child healthy, SafeCare Colorado, a Northwest Colorado Health program, offers free, voluntary parent support for families with children five and younger. Parent Support Providers work with caregivers to build on their existing skills of parent-child interactions, home safety and child health, including dental care. Visit northwestcoloradohealth.org or call 970-415-2668.