CDC Provides Spanish Language Tips for Caring for Young Children's Teeth
To assist Hispanic parents in caring for their children’s teeth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released pediatric oral health tips in Spanish, “Refresque Sus Conocimientos sobre Dientes Sanos: Pasos Sencillos para Sonrisas Infantiles” (Refresh your Knowledge of Healthy Teeth: Simple Steps for Kids' Smiles). The tips, which recommend good oral care habits starting in infancy and provide information on the proper use of toothpaste and other fluoride products, are being released in observation of National Children’s Dental Health Month (February).
Hispanic children, 2-5 years of age, have more tooth decay in their primary (“baby”) teeth than either white or African American pre-school children. The Third National Health and Examination Survey showed that more than twice as many Mexican American children (35 percent) as white children (14 percent) in this age group have untreated tooth decay. About 40 percent of Hispanic children lack dental insurance.
“It is very important that parents pay attention to their children’s oral health and begin taking care of their children’s teeth early, during infancy,” said William R. Maas, a dentist and director of CDC’s Division of Oral Health. “Developing these good oral health habits, as well as the proper use of fluoride, reduces the risk of tooth decay and improves overall heath.”
Dental health practices such as brushing with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste – the size of a small grain of corn, or pea – and drinking fluoridated water can greatly improve oral health in children. Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing tooth decay. Research has shown that brushing with fluoride toothpaste lowers the risk of tooth decay by 15 percent to 30 percent, and drinking fluoridated water lowers the risk of decay by 18 percent to 40 percent.
The CDC recommends the following Simple Steps for Kids' Smiles:
Start cleaning teeth early. As soon as the first tooth appears, begin cleaning by wiping with a clean, damp cloth every day. When more teeth come in, switch to a small, soft toothbrush. Begin using fluoride toothpaste when the child is 2 years old. Use toothpaste with fluoride earlier if your child’s doctor or dentist recommends it.
Use the right amount of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is important in fighting cavities. But if children younger than 6 years swallow too much fluoride, their teeth may develop white spots. To prevent this, use only a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a small grain of corn). Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and to rinse well after brushing.
Supervise brushing. Brush your child's teeth twice a day until your child is able to use a toothbrush without help. Then, continue to closely watch brushing to make sure your child is doing a thorough job and using only a small amount of toothpaste.
Talk to your child's doctor or dentist. Check with the doctor or dentist about your child’s specific fluoride needs. After age 2, most children get the necessary amount of fluoride to help prevent cavities if they drink water that contains fluoride and brush their teeth twice a day with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a small grain of corn. Parents of children over the age of 6 months should ask about the need for a fluoride supplement if their drinking water does not have enough fluoride. Also, do not let a child younger than 6-years-old use a mouth rinse with fluoride unless the child’s doctor or dentist recommends it.
To receive copies of “Refresque Sus Conocimientos sobre Dientes Sanos: Pasos Sencillos para Sonrisas Infantiles” send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on oral health and the benefits of fluoride, visit CDC's Web site at www.cdc.gov/spanish/dental.htm (Español) or www.cdc.gov/oralhealth (English).
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