Healthy teeth are important to children’s overall health. From the time a child is born, family members can take steps to promote healthy teeth and prevent cavities. For example, babies’ teeth can be cleaned with a soft, clean cloth or baby’s toothbrush. Also, avoid putting a baby to bed with a bottle and check their teeth regularly for spots or stains. According to Dr. David Le, DDS, Dental Director at Ibn Sina Community Medical and Dental Clinic at 11226 South Wilcrest Dr., in Houston, parents can start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when children are two years old, or sooner, if your dentist suggests it.
“Parents can provide healthy fruits and vegetables as an alternative to sugary sweet snacks and drinks,” said Dr. Le, ” as well as scheduling regular dental check-ups.” Forming good habits at a young age can help your child have healthy teeth for life.”
In addition, dental treatments that seal a child’s back teeth (molars), can prevent most cavities, but many kids — particularly those living in poverty — don’t get them, according to U.S. health officials. Dental sealants are liquid fluoride resin coatings painted into the grooves of the chewing surfaces of teeth. When cured with a specific light source, they quickly harden to form a shield on the teeth, which can last for years. Sealants can cut cavities by 80 percent for up to two years, and by 50 percent for up to four years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Unfortunately, only an estimated 40 percent of children have dental sealants, but 60 percent do not,” added Dr. Le. “Kids without dental sealants have almost three times more risk of cavities that those who do have sealants.”
Low-Income Children Lack Dental Care
Poor children are more than twice as likely as those from more affluent families to have untreated tooth decay. According to Dr. Le, “dental sealants are simple, quick, easy and completely painless, there are no unwanted side effects and the benefits start immediately.”
Clinics that provide free and low-cost services for children from low-income families are especially important, because those children are less likely to receive dental care. Sealant treatments are offered at Ibn Sina Community Medical and Dental Clinics at all locations in the
Houston area, including:
11226 S. Wilcrest Dr., Houston 77099
15132 Old Galveston Road (Highway 3), Clear Lake 77598
16345 S. Post Oak Road, Houston, 77053
5012 North Shepherd, Houston 77018
What to expect
The standard six-month dental visit should begin at age 2. Between ages 4 and 6, expect a first set of mouth X-rays to check for cavities lurking between the teeth. Prevention is the name of the game between ages 6 and 12, when baby teeth give way to permanent teeth.
Look for your child’s dentist to suggest a sealant between ages 7 and 9. Cavity-prone molars (at the back of the mouth) are the most likely site for treatment. The first orthodontic evaluation should occur around age 7, although most children that need braces will have them at age 12 or 13.
Dr. David Le, DDS.
Dr. Le graduated from the University of Washington Dental School in 2006 and have been practicing dentistry for 10 years. He has joined Ibn Sina Foundation and provided quality dental care to the community at the Wilcrest Medical and Dental Clinic location since 2011. Outside of work, Dr. Le enjoys fishing, camping, and boating with his wife and five children.