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Brushing together teaches good oral health habits at a young age

Surgeon General's Report states: More than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental related illnesses!

Advice for parents

Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of periodontal diseases. Therefore, it is important that children receive a periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits. Be aware that if your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, this may be an early sign of systemic disease. A general medical evaluation should be considered for children who exhibit severe periodontitis, especially if it appears resistant to therapy.

Many medications can dry out the mouth or pose other threats to oral health. Be sure to tell your dental professional about any medications your family members are taking.

Monitor your family to see if anyone has the habit of teeth grinding. Grinding can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease, in addition to causing cracked or chipped teeth. Dentists can make custom-fitted night bite guards to prevent teeth grinding at night.

Researchers suggest periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means that the common contact of saliva in families may put children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member. If one family member has periodontal disease, all family members should see a dental professional for a periodontal evaluation.

The most important preventive step against periodontal disease is to establish good oral health habits with your child. There are three basic preventive steps to help your child maintain good oral health:

Scrub and brush!
  • Brush and floss using proper techniques daily.  
  • Schedule regular dental visits for family checkups, periodontal evaluations and cleanings.
  • Check your child's mouth for any signs of periodontal disease.

If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work with him to change these now. It's much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult. Since your child models behavior after you, it follows that you should serve as a positive role model in your oral hygiene habits. A healthy smile, good breath and strong teeth all contribute to a young person's sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem.

For more information
Request a free brochure
The free brochure Caring for Your Child's Teeth and Gums includes step-by-step instructions on proper brushing and flossing methods.

Get oral care tips
The AAP press release "Tips to Help Families Achieve Optimal Oral Health" suggests ways to avoid or treat periodontal disease.

Consult a periodontist
Periodontists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease and can help you protect your family's oral health.

Visit the ADA Web site
The American Dental Association's Web site's includes a section for parents and children.

Read a scientific paper
The Academy's position paper "Periodontal Diseases of Children and Adolescents" provides a brief summary of the current state of knowledge in this area. 

Courtesy of:  American Academy of Periodontology

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