This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
It might seem hard to imagine that a bad tooth could be deadly.
But doctors in the Washington area say a twelve-year-old boy died last month
from a tooth infection that spread to his brain. They say it might have been
prevented had the boy received the dental care he needed.
Experts at the National Institutes of Health say good dental care starts at
birth. They say breast milk is the best food for the healthy development of
teeth. Breast milk can help slow bacterial growth and acid production in the
But dentists say you should clean your baby's gums and early teeth after each
feeding. Use a cloth with a little warm water. Do the same if you bottle feed
your baby. Experts say if you decide to put your baby to sleep with a bottle,
give your baby only water.
When 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 use them very gently.
The use of fluoride to protect
teeth is common in many parts of the world. This natural element 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 the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry points out that young
children often swallow toothpaste when they brush. The group 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 about 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.
The American Academy of Family Physicians says most kids stop sucking their
thumbs 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.
Dentists strongly advise a first dental visit at least by the time a child is
one year old. They say babies should be examined when their first teeth appear.
Healthy teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Daily cleaning is important to
preventing infections and other problems. We will talk more in the future about
dental care for children and adults.
And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver.
I'm Steve Ember.