Dental hygiene is a vital part of overall health, dentists and doctors say, and something that should be taught and practiced from an early age.
Research shows that periodontal (gum) disease increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, while poor dental health has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly from an early age is very important.
“Cavities can happen as early as nine months of age,” said Dr. Rosie Roldan, director of the Pediatric Dental Center at Miami Children’s Hospital and director of its pediatric dental residency program. “The teeth start erupting at six months, so they haven’t been in the mouth three months before we can start seeing cavities.”
Parents are advised to take children to the dentist from 12 months of age, and every six months after that.
Parents should also ensure that their children’s teeth are brushed twice a day, as soon as the first tooth appears. That creates a habit, so children grow up to not be resistant to brushing.
Prevention is key. Children need to know how to brush their teeth correctly as soon as a tooth appears.
When very young children develop dental problems, they can wind up in the operating room. Roldan said her center sees 700 patients in the operating room for dental work each year. The majority are under 4.
Children can even require root canals and extractions!