Healthy Living in the North

Teeth matter

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Spirit the caribou in front of baby teeth poster

Baby teeth are important for jaw development, chewing, speech development, and spacing. Mouth care for kids starts sooner than you may realize!

What would we do without our teeth?

Strong, healthy teeth are a vital part of our overall health and daily living. They are a unique part of our bodies. They come in all shapes, colours, and sizes, and help us with jaw development, to chew, to speak, and even to smile.

Yes, teeth matter!

Caring for your teeth is very important and needs to be done every day.  As a community dental hygienist with Northern Health, my role is to help educate parents and children in keeping their teeth healthy for a lifetime.

Here are some simple oral health tips I share often:

  • Help your children brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Lift your child’s lip one time a month and check for new teeth or signs of decay.
  • Bring your child to your family dentist when they are around one year old.
  • Offer water instead of sugar drinks when they’re thirsty.
  • Offer a variety of healthy foods and limit sugary snacks.
Spirit mascot in front of poster

You can keep your child’s teeth healthy by brushing them in the morning and before bed, starting as soon as those teeth erupt. Use a little smear of toothpaste that has fluoride in it.

Teeth really do matter. I have seen the devastating effects that tooth decay can have on our health. Decay can cause loss of appetite and loss of sleep, ultimately leading to delays in growth, learning and development. It can affect our desire to smile and to socialize. If tooth decay is left to abscess, serious health issues may develop and may require antibiotics and other medications,-even hospitalization. Loss of schooling and /or work may occur.

At Northern Health, we provide free dental screenings and fluoride varnish treatments to children six years and under. We can also help connect you with a family dentist.

The good news is tooth decay is preventable and with proper daily oral hygiene and a limited sugary diet, your smile can last you a lifetime.

For more information on how to protect your oral health check out the following resources:

Carmen Gottschling-Aceto

About Carmen Gottschling-Aceto

Carmen is a Community Dental Hygienist living and working in beautiful Prince Rupert. She joined the Northern Health dental team part-time in 2012 and continues to work part-time in private practice. She loves working with families and educating them on good oral health practices. Born and raised on the north coast, she has an ultimate passion for fishing and hunting which she shares with her husband. They are raising three active teenage children. As a family they enjoy attending and coaching the kids various activities, camping and just spending quality time together.

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Baby teeth: Why they are important

Spirit mascot in front of poster

You can keep your child’s teeth healthy by brushing them in the morning and before bed, starting as soon as those teeth erupt. Use a little smear of toothpaste that has fluoride in it.

They eventually fall out and are collected by the tooth fairy anyways, so why are baby teeth so important?

Healthy baby teeth are important for many reasons:

  • Baby teeth hold the space for the replacement adult teeth.
  • Baby molars will not fall out until your child is about 12 years old.
  • Early loss of a baby tooth may cause the movement of the other teeth, possibly resulting in crowding or bite problems.
  • Baby teeth are important for appearance, proper chewing of foods, and speech.

But, since those baby teeth are not meant to last a lifetime, their outer covering (enamel) is not as thick or hard as the enamel on adult teeth. The enamel in the first 18 months after a tooth erupts is fragile and can decay very quickly.

Why does this matter? Just like in adults, tooth decay in our kids may cause pain, infection, difficulties chewing, problems sleeping or concentrating, and poor self-esteem. Tooth decay is largely preventable. Health care providers, child care providers, and parents can all work together to spread healthy messages regarding oral care and we can all model behaviours that can lead to a reduction in tooth decay and oral health problems.

You can keep your child’s teeth healthy by:

  • Brushing your child’s teeth in the morning and before bed, starting as soon as those teeth erupt. Use a little smear of toothpaste that has fluoride in it.
  • Do not put your child to bed with a bottle or, if you do, offer only water in the bottle.
  • Help your child to learn to drink from an open cup (not a sippy cup). This can be used for small sips of water starting at 6 months and for milk starting between 9-12 months.
  • Limit how often your child gets sticky, sugary foods and drinks. Children one year and older benefit from 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. These should be spaced 2-3 hours apart. Choose a variety of healthy foods that do not stick to the teeth.
  • Make an appointment for your child’s first dental appointment by their first birthday or about 6 months after their first tooth erupts.
  • Lift your child’s upper lip once a month to check for any whitish marks on the teeth which may be the start of decay.
  • Avoid saliva sharing habits like using the same spoon.
  • Parents should have any decay treated to reduce the chances of passing on the cavity causing bacteria to their child.
Brenda Roseboom

About Brenda Roseboom

Brenda was born and raised in Terrace. She has worked in the community first as a certified dental assistant and then as a hygienist. After being in private practice for many years, she joined the Northern Health dental team in May of 2016. Brenda enjoys gardening, quilting, and many other crafting hobbies. The beauty of B.C. continues to amaze her and keeps her rooted in the north.

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