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SaludToday Guest Blogger
Jefferson Dental Clinics
Did you know Latino kids have more cavities than other kids?
Latino kids experience tooth decay at higher rates and are twice as likely as their White and African American peers to experience untreated tooth decay, the nation’s top chronic childhood illness, research indicates.
“Our Latino youth are experiencing disproportionate levels of dental cavities,” says Dr. Leslie Renee Townsend, regional director of Texas-based Jefferson Dental Clinics. “It is clear that is time to intervene on advancing oral health initiatives aimed at creating good dental health habits from an early age.”
The issue is more dire than cavities alone.
Tooth decay in children has been correlated to problems with eating, difficulties with speech and articulation, difficulty concentrating and completing school work, headaches and even lowered self-esteem—dental problems that lead to an estimated 51 million missed school hours a year among kids.
“Every stage of a child’s development is important for dental care. We are now seeing infant tooth decay on the rise, as well as older children with more dental cavities,” Townsend said. “It is important for parents and caregivers to remember that early care and prevention is a first step at preparing a child for a lifetime of good oral health.”
What can be done? Here are some tips from Jefferson Dental Clinics:
Take care of baby teeth. Primary (baby) teeth are the basis for growing healthy permanent teeth in adulthood. Establishing a thorough oral health routine that includes brushing and flossing twice daily, and two regular dental visits each year are vital to maintaining healthy mouths. A child should visit a dentist by his or her first birthday.
Dental sealants. Sealants are a protective coating that can be applied to children’s teeth, especially hard-to-reach back molars, to help reduce the risk of cavities. This treatment is particularly ideal for children learning to brush.
Healthy food. Eating right is key to both overall health and healthy teeth and gums. Flossing should become a regular habit, especially after consuming meats and fibrous vegetables.
“Overall, it is important that families treat oral hygiene as a family-wide habit; great smiles should run in the family,” Townsend said. “Preventing tooth decay is a first step at combating the dental health crisis, and improving health outcomes for young Latinos.”