This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
teeth can be painful -- and worse. They can even be deadly. Infections of the
gums and teeth can release bacteria into the blood system. Those bacteria can
increase the chances of a heart attack or stroke and worsen the effects of
other diseases. And adults are not the only ones at risk.
For example, in two thousand seven, doctors in the
Washington area said a boy died when a tooth infection spread to his brain.
They said it might have been prevented had he received the dental care he
needed. He was twelve years old.
Experts at the National
Institutes of Health say good dental care starts at birth. Breast milk, they
say, is the best food for the healthy development of teeth. Breast milk can
help slow bacterial growth and acid production in the mouth.
But dentists say a baby's gums and early
teeth should be cleaned after each feeding. Use a cloth with a little warm
water. Do the same if a baby is fed with a bottle. Experts say if you decide to
put your baby to sleep with a bottle, give only water.
baby teeth begin to appear, you can clean them with a wet toothbrush. Dentists
say it is important to find soft toothbrushes made especially for babies and to
use them very gently.
use of fluoride to protect teeth is common in many parts of the world. For
example, it is often added to drinking water supplies. The fluoride mixes with
enamel, the hard surface on teeth, to help prevent holes, or cavities, from forming.
But young children often swallow toothpaste when they
brush. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry notes that swallowing
fluoridated toothpaste can cause problems. So young children should be
carefully supervised when they brush their teeth. And only a small amount of
fluoridated toothpaste, the size of a green pea, should be used.
Parents often wonder what effect thumb
sucking or sucking on a pacifier might have on their baby's teeth. Dental
experts generally agree that this is fine early in life.
American Academy of Family Physicians says most children stop sucking their
thumb by the age of four. If it continues, the group advises parents to talk to
their child's dentist or doctor. It could interfere with the correct development
of permanent teeth.
children should have their first dental visit at least by the time they are one
year old. They say babies should be examined when their first teeth appear --
usually at around six months.
that's the VOA Special English Health Report. I'm Steve Ember.