Good dental health (also called oral health) is more than just having clean teeth. It refers to the health of your teeth, gums, cheeks, soft tissues, palate, lips, and jaws. Taking good care of our mouths allow us to speak, chew, taste, swallow, and smile confidently and without pain.
Good dental health is also important for our overall health. For instance, gum disease and other types of oral diseases can put a person at a higher risk of developing diabetes. On the other hand, the mouth is also often described as the window to the health of the body because signs of other diseases can show up there. For example, canker sores may indicate certain nutritional deficiencies.
While good dental health is important throughout life, it is particularly important for children as they develop and grow. Having a healthy mouth is essential for a child’s nutrition as they learn to eat and swallow foods of different types and textures. Additionally, a child’s teeth, lips, and tongue play a critical role as they learn to speak and interact with others.
Despite being largely preventable, tooth decay – damage to a tooth’s surface, or enamel – is the most common childhood disease. Almost 1 in 5 children between the ages of 2 and 5 have already experienced tooth decay, which can have a significant impact on the lives of children and their families. For example, at least 51 million hours of school are missed every year in the United States by children that are experiencing tooth decay. This is because decayed teeth can become painful and disrupt the ability to sleep, eat, grow, and perform well in school. When the front teeth are decayed, speech and self-esteem can also be negatively impacted.
Here is what you need to know about how to prevent tooth decay and keep your child’s mouth healthy as they grow.