Good Beginnings 1: The Importance of Early Dental Care

Experts call poor oral health the number one childhood epidemic in the country.

The first “Good Beginnings” segment featured a visit to the Children’s Dental Center in Inglewood, where children as young as 1 year old are receiving free or low-cost dental care from UCLA and USC dental students under the supervision of licensed pediatric dentists.

An in-studio live interview was conducted with Dr. Maritza Cabezas, a dentist and public health advocate with the LA County Department of Health Services. Dr.

Cabezas shared a host of helpful tips:

Three Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Tooth Decay

1. Tooth decay is a communicable disease, caused by bacteria often passed to infants and children through caregivers’ saliva.

2. Children 8 years or younger need to have an adult brush their teeth for them.

3. Preventing children?s cavities starts before birth?with the oral health of the pregnant woman.

Five Tips for Parents to Ensure Early Oral Health

1. Establish a relationship with a dentist for your child by age 1 to begin regular checkups.

2. Avoid anything other than water in baby?s bottle or sippy cup at bedtime.

3. Drink fluoridated water (if not available in your community, buy fluoridated bottled water)

4. Avoid saliva-sharing activities between caregivers and child ( i.e. tasting food, sharing utensils, etc.)

5. Starting at birth, gently wipe baby’s teeth after each feeding, and starting with first teeth through age 6, use only a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste on a soft toothbrush.

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