1 in 5 children have a condition that could lead to other health problems

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tooth decay is the most common chronic conditions in children

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The importance of dental health is the same for children and adults. With February being Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month, dental professionals are stressing the need to get children to the dentist early.

Dr. Rebecca Natale, with Warren Family Dental, says kids need to start seeing the dentist as early as 2 to 3 years old.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tooth decay is the most common chronic conditions in children. Untreated decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with speaking, eating, playing and learning.

Statistics show that one in five children ages 5 to 11 has at least one untreated decayed tooth.

Natale says going to the dentist for the first time should be about fun. She has kids come into the office, play with the instruments, count their teeth, and brush. Her approach to dental care changes as the children age and visits need to be made every six months.

Natale says parents need to make sure they are involved in their child’s dental care by promoting hygiene and nutrition. It’s also a good idea to check out your water supply. Most communities fluorinate the water, but those using wells or other water sources may not. This can easily be checked by making a call to your water department.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires that all community water systems provide each customer with an annual report on water quality, including the fluoride content. Pennsylvania participates in the CDC’s My Water’s Fluoride program, you can find information on the fluoridation status in water systems online at My Water’s Fluoride. Water customers in Ohio can find their fluoride levels through the Ohio Department of Health.

More tips for parents include:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste (unless the child is younger than 2 years old)
  • Watch your child brush their teeth if they are younger than 6. Make sure they are only using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and they are spitting it out and not swallowing it.
  • Talk to your doctor or dentist about fluoride varnishes
  • If you are drinking water that is not fluoridated, ask your doctor if your child needs fluoride supplements like drops, tablets or lozenges.
  • Talk to your doctor about dental sealants

Toothbrushes should be age appropriate because there are different sized toothbrush heads according to age.

“A lot of new toothbrushes are coming out with a built-in timer, which is nice because they go in there and they are in a big hurry and brush real quick. They need to stay in there, sing a song or something like that,” Natale said.

If you’re a parent and need resources for your child’s dental health, Natale recommends calling your dentist directly or try reaching out to a local dental society near you or the