Providing oral health education to families is essential to teaching children healthy habits and preventing early childhood tooth decay.
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The average healthy adult visits the dentist twice a year. The average healthy 2-year-old has never been to the dentist. By kindergarten, 25 percent of children have never seen a dentist, yet dental decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in America.
The culprit? A combination of misinformation about when a child should first visit the dentist, when a parent should start caring for a child's teeth and the frequent and long-term exposure of sugary liquids to a child's teeth.
A child should first visit the dentist six months after the eruption of the first tooth. During this first exam, the dentist can teach parents the best way to guard against early childhood tooth decay by wiping down the teeth with a damp cloth after every feeding and remind parents to limit sugary beverages.
Updated: January 2012
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