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NEWS | Aug. 24, 2016

Brushing, flossing, good diet keep children’s teeth healthy

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

With the start of the school year approaching, the last thing children want is to have a painful cavity in their mouth.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is a common occurrence for some children in the U.S. One of five children, ages 5 to 11, and one of seven adolescents, ages 12 to 19, have at least one untreated cavity.

Parents can prevent tooth decay in their children by taking them for annual dental checkups and making sure they brush and floss every day, said Master Sgt. Patricia Nunez, 359th Aerospace-Medicine Squadron Dental Flight chief at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.
In addition, Nunez said parents should have their children’s teeth cleaned twice a year at the dentist’s office.

Nunez said children need to brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, to help get rid of bacteria that can form on the teeth and cause cavities. She said children should use a toothbrush with a soft bristle because it is better for their enamel, which is still developing.
Parents can buy toothbrushes with an electric timer that they can set for two minutes, Nunez said. Prices for the electric brushes with a timer start at $5.

It’s very important that children brush their teeth before they go to sleep to prevent bacteria from forming overnight, Nunez said.
“They need to brush their teeth before they go to bed at night because if they do not, then it’s breeding time for bacteria in their mouth while they are sleeping,” she said.

Parents should teach their children to floss properly so they can get to food particles stuck in between their teeth, Nunez said.

“If you don’t floss, food particles build up in between the teeth,” Nunez said. “A toothbrush only reaches the front and back of the teeth.

Children get cavities in between their teeth because they don’t floss.”
When buying dental floss for children, she said parents should pick a thicker floss made of yarn or tape because it will be better on their child’s teeth and gums.

Nunez said a healthy diet – including fruits and vegetables and lots of water – can help keep prevent tooth decay. Parents should limit the amount of soda and juice children consume because each of those drinks has high sugar content.

Tooth decay is caused by an infection in which certain types of bacteria use sugars from food to make acids. The acids, over time, can form a cavity in the tooth that can cause pain and could lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.