Dental disease more prevalent than 20 years ago

Dentist recommends visits should start as early as six months after first tooth eruption.

6-year-old Josh is at a dentist appointment in Neptune Township. When asked why it’s important for him to get his teeth cleaned, he simply replied, “So, I don’t have cavities.”

Mom Jennifer Taylor takes all of her young boys for dental check-ups. Her other son, Christian, said, “I like my teeth getting cleaned I like coming to the dentist.”

“We’re really fanatical about the cleaning of their teeth just to make sure we don’t have cavities and don’t have any problems so we start young,” said Taylor.

When she says young, she’s not exaggerating. Baby Michael’s getting examined, too. When it comes to their first dental visit, kids should start early according to Pediatric Dentist Dr. Donn Winokur.

“The parent should take the child to the dentist six months after the eruption of their first tooth no later. Dental disease is the most chronic disease in children. We have more dental disease in this marketplace than we did 20 years ago. Children don’t have oral flora, meaning they don’t have the bacteria in their mouth to prevent a lot of decay process at the early age.” he said.

Lack of dental education and processed, sugary foods are also largely to blame says Dr. Winokur. During cleanings, therapy dog Shea helps keep kids relaxed. He sits on their lap throughout the exam. The dentist also treats many patients with special needs. During one visit, a boy starts by brushing Shay’s teeth first before his own exam. Baby Michael does well during his check-up, too. The dentist first desensitizes the area around his mouth.

Dr. Winokur instructed, “You do a circular motion on the lips, it has nerve endings, calms children.”

The doctor says it’s just as important to educate parents on proper oral hygiene care and nutrition for their kids. If moms are nursing, he recommends they brush their baby’s teeth or wipe their gums after breastfeeding just before bed. And if a baby takes a bottle, they should only milk during meal times—no juice. And if they’re thirsty before bed, only water after brushing. Cleanings are scheduled twice a year, which is why parents are given instructions on brushing and flossing techniques during the visit to keep kids like Josh cavity-free.