Protect toddlers' teeth with early trips to the dentist - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Protect toddlers' teeth with early trips to the dentist

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Strange new sounds and unfamiliar tools - it's no wonder why some little ones are a bit nervous about their first trip to the dentist.

But if you want to limit those visits, the best thing you can do is start early. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children have their first dental check-up by age one.

Dr. Buddy Brice is a board certified diplomate with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry with offices in both Biloxi and Ocean Springs. He says, "Most the little ones at that age only have a few teeth in. But at that time is when we really hit the parents with education, with regards to use of the bottle, when they get them off the nursing bottle, if they're breast-fed or breastfeeding, use of the sippy cup."

Dr. Brice has been a pediatric dentist in south Mississippi for 32 years. He knows preventing early tooth decay in toddlers starts by educating the parents.

"We want parents to understand that most of the dental literature is going to inform or tell you that the child is not going to develop the dexterity in their own arm and hand to do an adequate job of brushing before eight to ten years of age. So we educate the parents right off the bat, that it's their responsibility to help the child brush and floss the teeth."

Dr. Brice says parents should brush their children's teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day, morning and night, and floss at least once a day.

"But the most important time to brush our teeth, adult or child, is before we jump in that bed at night. When we sleep at night the production of saliva in your mouth slows down. That already creates a stagnant environment for the bacteria that live in our mouths."

As for those first time-jitters of going to the dentist, bright ocean scenes and ceiling-mounted televisions with audio headphones help distract young patients from what's happening in Dr. Brice's chair. But parents, too have the power to ease any fears.

"So you gotta talk as going to the dentist as a positive experience, you know. Don't relate any negative experiences you've had and that type of thing and that will help a lot there, too. We want to make it a fun visit here, a get acquainted visit, so they have a fun experience that first visit, and that's what it's all about."

Dr. Buddy Brice also told me smart snack choices are essential to maintaining healthy teeth.  He encourages parents to limit chips, cookies, and candies, and instead offer more fresh fruit, veggies, cheese, or yogurts.

For more information visit his web site.

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