California dentists promote prevention for Children’s Dental Health Month / Public News Service

As part of National Children’s Dental Health Month, dentists are asking California parents to get actively involved while their children learn to brush their teeth.

By third grade, 22% of children in California have untreated tooth decay, according to the California Department of Health.

Dr. Erin Shah, a pediatric dentist who practices in the Bay Area and vice chair of the Government Affairs Council for the California Dental Association, recommends children use an electric toothbrush with a timer.

“We really encourage a child to work on developing the brushing skill, and the morning is a good time for them to work on that,” Shah advised. “And then have an adult physically help you brush and floss at night, so the child can go to bed with really, really clean teeth.”

A recent study shows an increased risk of COVID-related complications in people with gum disease, and experts at UnitedHealthcare noted that children who grind their teeth may benefit from a night watchman.

Shah recommended that babies have their first oral health checkup between 12 and 18 months, so parents can get advice on brushing technique and diet.

“Having this early visit gives us the chance to get ahead of the game, so we’re proactive and preventative rather than reactive,” Shah explained.

The California Dental Association welcomed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s January budget proposal because it would increase funding to train more people in dentistry, expand Medi-Cal and maintain a recent increase in fees paid to dental providers.

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