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Dental clinic ensures good oral hygiene

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kathleen D. Bryant
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
The 23d Aerospace Medical Squadron dental clinic spoke with four pre-kindergarten classes from the Child Development Center about the importance of dental hygiene for National Children's Dental Health month, Feb. 2, here.

NCDH month spreads awareness to children and their parents about the importance of oral hygiene and the amount of times they need to brush and floss their teeth.

"We want to make sure all kids are taken care of because there is such a high prevalence of cavities and lack of oral health and knowledge," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Christianna Moore, 23d AMDS general dentist. "If we can help address the problem and get everyone on the same page, we can prevent cavities from forming and the kids will have better overall health."

"The more you can help them brush and floss their teeth the better, until they are old enough to do [it themselves]," Moore added. "[Ensuring kids are] brushing twice a day and flossing once a day if the teeth are touching, and encouraging good food like fruits, veggies and healthy meats versus the sugary snacks and sodas will help them keep their teeth healthy."

Along with making sure kids are doing what they're supposed to at home, parents should ensure their children are seen by a dentist biannually or yearly.

The initial appointment should be six months after the child's first tooth grows in or when they turn one year old to ensure everything looks healthy and to prevent cavities.

"Any time there is a cavity in the mouth, there is a presence of bacteria and it can be spread," said Moore. "A lot of kids start getting the permanent teeth in at about six years old. If there are cavities in the baby teeth it can help spread to the permanent teeth [when they have a mix of the teeth in their mouths]. If there are a lot of big cavities in the baby teeth and they lose them early, it can affect when their permanent teeth come in as well. They have the pain, the discomfort and the overall trauma of going to a dentist, and getting that sort of work done early on can affect them later."

For some children, the dentist can be a scary place to go because of all the tools used. In an attempt to alleviate some of that fear, the dental clinic allowed one of the four classes from the CDC to visit the clinic.

"Some children fear the dentist period," Staff Sgt. Nakeithian Phillips, 23d Aerospace Medical Squadron dental technician. "Some of them don't like what we're wearing and some are afraid of the sound of the drill and the suction. We let them come in and do a tour and tell them what we're going to do. We tell them what each tool will do and show them on the teeth model what will happen during their appointment."

Moore and Phillips agree that when children understand the importance of good oral hygiene, they are less likely to experience cavities and other health problems.

Parents can visit the American Dental Association's website to learn more about National Children's Dental Health month.