Children's Dental Health

When it comes to childhood fear, there's always the Big Three: the dark, the monster under the bed and — worst of all — the dentist.

 

Maybe that's why kids today keep a night-light plugged in, force their parents to search the room before bedtime and suffer from what the U.S. Surgeon General calls the "silent epidemic" in child oral health care. In fact, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease out there — five times more common than asthma — and child dental issues result in a loss of 51 million school hours each year.

As unnerving as those statistics are, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Oral B Stages and mom-extraordinaire Joan Lunden have teamed up to launch the campaign, "First Steps to a Healthy Smile," throughout the month of February for Children's Dental Health Month. And they're telling pediatricians and parents alike that there's nothing to fear — as long as they take an active role in children's oral health.

"Our kids may not listen to us, but they'll never fail to imitate us," says Lunden, mother of seven — including two sets of twins under four years old — and former host of Good Morning America. "If we don't have healthy eating habits and oral care habits, then they're not going to learn. We are their teachers. We are their guides. We need to guide them into a healthy adult life."

Dr. David Krol, a pediatrician and member of the AAP, agrees: "Tooth decay can lead to problems with growth, speech, eating habits and even learning. Just imagine you're a kid in

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