From brushing to flossing to the first dentist visit, the AAPD president shares advice for parents

(WZAW) -- According to a national survey conducted by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, three out of four parents do not take their child for a first visit to the dentist by his or her first birthday, the age recommended by leading health experts.

Children had the chance to sit in the dentist's chair to get their teeth checked. (KOTA)

Delaying children’s oral care routines can cause tooth decay, which could cause compromised health, development and quality of life. That’s why it’s imperative to fight off dental diseases even before the appearance of the first tooth by scheduling children’s first dental appointments by their first birthday.

Dr. Kevin Donly, President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 via satellite on Wednesday.

“We know that age 2-5, 20% of kids develop dental decay and age 6-10, about 50% of kids develop tooth decay, so we want to prevent that,” he said.

He added that when it comes to brushing the AAPD recommends kids brush for two minutes twice a day. But he said for kids from infancy to around six years old, parents should help them brush to make sure they’re doing so properly, since the dexterity isn’t there.

“As far as flossing goes, when the first tooth comes intact is when we recommend flossing. Usually this happens between two and five, and a parent will know because they’re brushing their child’s teeth.”

Dr. Donly said the AAPD recommends that pacifier use discontinue by age two. Other experts suggest limiting its use at age two and discontinuing all together by age four, to prevent dental problems.

Equally as important as visiting a pediatric dentist, AAPD, in along with major health organizations, released new beverage guidelines for children under five. These guidelines show that beverages may have the same impact on overall nutrition, wellness and disease as food.

Healthy beverage intake is critical in early childhood, because beverages can make a significant contribution to dietary intake during this period and thus may serve as important sources of essential nutrients. However, many beverages contain added sugars and saturated fats, which can be harmful when consumed in excess. Over-consumption of unhealthy beverages along with inadequate consumption of healthy beverages in early childhood can contribute to chronic diet-related diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and dental caries.

Here are some other recommendations endorsed by the AAPD:

- Establishing healthy beverage patterns in the first five years can promote adequate intake of healthy nutrients, while reducing excess consumption of sugars and saturated fats.

- Early life is an important period for the development of flavor and food preferences. Thus, minimizing children’s exposure to sweet-tasting beverages during their early years may help reduce their preference for sweetened food and beverages at older age