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Dental clinic educates parents, children on hygiene

Kimberly Barker, dental assistant for Brown Dental Clinic, provides screenings for children at the Fort Rucker Primary School Feb. 4. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Kimberly Barker, dental assistant for Brown Dental Clinic, provides screenings for children at the Fort Rucker Primary School Feb. 4. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: February 12, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 12, 2016) -- Sweets make nice treats for children’s taste buds, but the effects on their teeth and gums often prove sour.

Fort Rucker’s Brown Dental Clinic is targeting children and parents for an educational campaign on promoting healthy dental habits for National Children Dental Health Month, according to Ann Bagley, general dentist at the clinic.

Staff from Brown Dental Clinic provided free dental screenings for children at the child development center and the Fort Rucker Primary School, Feb. 3 and 4, to make sure children on post are keeping up with good dental hygiene, Bagley said.

“We want to look for any obvious issues that the children may have and try to promote good dental health,” she said. “The emphasis is not only on good oral health for the children, but for the parents, as well.”

The screenings were brief and Bagley said Fort Rucker’s children’s teeth are in tip-top shape.

“We see very few issues here with the children on post – it’s amazing,” she said. “The population here is very good about dental hygiene.”

But that’s not always the case and some dental health problems can still arise.

Some of the common issues that dentists run into with children’s teeth are spacing and crowding issues, which can be an indication of future need for orthodontic care, and sometimes the occasional cavity, said Bagley, adding that issues should be dealt with right away.

“Poor dental health can lead to hours missed from school, unnecessary dental procedures and pain,” she said. “Some people might think that it’s just a toothache, but it’s more than that. It can affect the child’s overall health, so you want to make sure to stress proper dental health.”

Bagley said that sometimes people think that since their young children have primary teeth that the urgency for proper dental care isn’t as necessary as for adult teeth, but stresses that the health of the baby teeth can affect the health of the permanent teeth that will eventually come through.

“You want to make sure to maintain healthy primary teeth for the sake of the permanent teeth that will eventually erupt,” she said. “Plus, it’s good to establish good, healthy dental habits early on.”

Additionally, poor dental health can bring about unnecessary pain and issues that can easily be avoided.

“If a child has an infection in the mouth, it’s the same as an infection in any part of the body, so it will make the child not feel good,” said Bagley. “If they don’t feel good, they aren’t able to focus very well in school and it makes it difficult to participate in class, and it simply affects the overall health of the child.”

That’s why proper dental hygiene habits are crucial, she said, which include both brushing and flossing at least twice a day.

“They both go hand in hand, and you shouldn’t do one without the other – in the morning and at night,” said the dentist. “Also, avoid a lot of sweets and maintain a healthy diet. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and drink lots of milk. Anything that’s going to make your body healthy is going to be good for your teeth.”

Sometimes, a cavity will appear, however, and in that case, proper dental care is needed. But Bagley maintains that the best way to fight a cavity, or any dental issue, is through prevention.

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