How well do you know baby teeth?

  • Published
  • By Capt. Travis Cripps, DMD
  • 509th Medical Group
National Children’s Dental Health Month is right around the corner and the Dental Clinic staff at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri hopes to improve understanding and awareness for the importance of oral health. Here is a quiz to test your knowledge of some common dental topics.

1. True or False: Baby teeth are going to fall out, so they don’t matter.
False: While baby teeth will be replaced by permanent, adult teeth, it is important to recognize the roles of baby teeth. Most children between the ages of one and 12, will have at least one baby tooth. Baby teeth, like adult teeth, aid in chewing, speaking, proper tooth alignment, and self-esteem. Premature loss of baby teeth can lead to trouble eating, improper spacing between teeth, delayed eruption of adult teeth, and low self-esteem. Maintaining good oral health protects the permanent teeth as they erupt.

2. True or False: My 3-year-old brushes his teeth very well, by himself.
False: While some children are enthusiastic about brushing, very few children have the manual dexterity to accomplish this task until approximately age six. If your child is already in the routine of brushing twice a day, nice work! The next step is to assist your child with daily brushing to ensure all plaque is removed.

3. True or False: My child got his first tooth, I should see a dentist.
True: The American Dental Association recommends children see a dentist within six months of the eruption of the first tooth but no later than one year of age. The first couple of visits to the dentist are typically very easy-going and educational. Establishing a dental home at a young age not only helps with early detection of oral abnormalities, but also makes the dental office a more familiar, comfortable place for your child.

4. True or False: My child will get cavities because everyone in my family has cavities.
False: Genetics play a role in our oral health. However, behavior plays a larger role. Cavities need certain key elements in order to form. These elements are bacteria, food, time, and teeth (no surprise). Brushing for two minutes, twice a day will likely disrupt or remove cavity forming bacteria. The less time these bacteria spend on the teeth, the lower the chances of forming a cavity. Also, cavity-forming bacteria love sugar and other refined carbohydrates! A healthy diet low in refined carbohydrates will limit the food source for the bacteria. Foods more prone to cause cavities include sodas, juices, cookies, cakes, crackers, and sticky candies. With these foods, moderation is key. Snacking frequently between meals or right before bed provides oral bacteria with a steady supply of food, leading to more cavities.

5. True or False: My dentist says my child should get sealants on his permanent teeth.
True: Sealant placement in children is very common in dentistry. These preventive restorations reduce the risks of forming cavities on the chewing surface of teeth by as much as 80 percent! Because of the lower number of cavities, children with sealants will also require fewer fillings resulting in quicker, more enjoyable trips to the dentist.

The Dental Clinic at Whiteman AFB is dedicated to providing high quality care to its Active Duty members. While dependents can only be seen on an emergent/space-available basis, the dentists of Whiteman are happy to answer any questions or address any dental concerns for you and your family at 660-687-2201. Have a great month!