New study claims parents need to pay more attention to children's baby teeth

Child gets dental work done at Magnolia Dental (10TV)
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Kids and Dental Hygiene

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As the nation marks Children's Dental Health Month throughout February, a local doctor is taking extra efforts to share with his patients information from a recent pediatric dental survey.

"We found the habits of people here in Columbus match the national survey's findings," said Dentist Dr. Bryan Basom of Magnolia Dental. "We are encouraging parents to start good dental habits with children at a younger age."

The latest dentistry study for kids by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says the overwhelming majority of parents do not worry about baby teeth, but that is a mentality that the recent data and Dr. Basom are calling attention to.

"Preserving baby teeth will support proper jaw development, support speech development and serve as the blueprint for the permanent teeth to come into," said Dr. Basom. "If you don't take care of those teeth it could lead to problems down the road."

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He said he hopes the new research prompts healthier habits. The AAPD released a new national survey that reveals nearly three quarters (74 percent) of U.S. parents do not take their child to the dentist by their first birthday. That is the age recommended by AAPD. The findings also showed that of the quarter of parents (26 percent) who do take their child to the dentist by their first birthday, millennial parents (29 percent) were more likely to take their child than any other generation. Dr. Basom pointed out the importance of adults recognizing a complaint of a toothache.

"A lot of people dismiss it and that's what the research showed. On a microscopic level a toothache is a bacterial infection and it can spread," said Dr. Basom. "Like an ear infection, you don't want it to go untreated. If a child has a toothache you should take it seriously and take them to the dentist."

In the study, 96 percent of parents say oral health is important to their family, but many do not think toothaches are a serious ailment, with three in 10 parents (31 percent) ranking toothaches as the least serious ailment compared to tummy aches, earaches, headaches and sore throats.

Another common habit among children is thumb sucking, but Dr. Basom said most kids ditch the habit between two and four years old. However, children who do not may see dental implications.

"It could create a variety of issues, the biggest being it'll constrict the palate and create a skeletal discrepancy that we'd have to treat with orthodontics later," said Dr. Basom. "And giving kiddos snacks like granola bars and fruit pouches may also seem like a healthy idea, but they are not as good for children as you may think."

He said the AAPD recommended alternative foods because the concentrated sugars in them can stick to teeth and create a more acidic environment, such as yogurt or cheese sticks.

Dr. Basom encouraged adults to explain proper habits with children at a young age through a series of children's books written by his wife, Lauren Kelley. She has published a series of books including one to help children understand what causes cavities and how to prevent them, titled "Baby Tooth Gets a Cavity."

For more information on the AAPD survey click here and for more details on the informational book series for kids click here.