Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood illnesses and is five times more prevalent than asthma. "Far too many children suffer far too much dental disease, and it is overwhelmingly preventable," says Burton L. Edelstein, D.D.S., founding director of the Children's Dental Health Project in Washington, DC. Legislators are listening: A bill, the Children's Dental Health Improvement Act of 2002, aimed at increasing kids' access to dental services, has been introduced in Congress and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) in Chicago and other healthcare organizations.
What can you do to improve your children's dental health? Start by testing your knowledge and brushing up on your dental facts. This advice comes courtesy of the AAPD as well as the Chicago-based American Dental Association.
- When should your child have her first dental visit?
a. Between 6 and 12 months
b. When she turns 3 years old
c. When she loses her first baby tooth
d. When she gets a cavity
- How often should your child visit the dentist after that?
a. Every six months
c. Every other year
d. It's up to your dentist
- How much toothpaste do you think your child needs in order to brush effectively?
a. Enough to cover all the bristles
b. A drop the size of a pea
c. A quarter-size amount
d. A smear
- How often should you replace your child's toothbrush?
b. Every three months
c. Once a year
d. When it looks worn out
- You should supervise your child's brushing until...
a. he gets his first permanent teeth
b. he's 4
c. he's 6
d. he's 11
- To avoid permanent dental damage, at what age is it best for your child to stop sucking her thumb or using a pacifier?
- The drawback to using sippy cups is...
a. they can shift your child's teeth
b. they can cause tooth decay
c. they pick up germs easily
d. it's tough for most children to
stop using them
- What should you do if your drinking water isn't fluoridated?
a. Give your child flouride supplements
b. Have your child floss twice a day
c. Have your child brush only once a day to spare tooth enamel
d. Have your child use an electric toothbrush
- Which of the following best protects your child's teeth?
a. Wearing braces
b. Drinking bottled water instead of
c. Consuming foods and juices rich in calcium and fluoride
d. Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- A child should start flossing when...
a. he's 2
b. he's 4
c. his teeth begin to touch one another
d. he gets his first permanent teeth
- Around what age do children typically need braces and other dental appliances?