Start dental hygiene early to keep teeth (and health) for life

Father and daughter brush teeth together

A healthy mouth is the gateway to your child’s overall health – so start oral hygiene habits when that little toothy grin begins to erupt.

Tooth decay isn’t your only concern, however. Molars help shape your child’s face as they grow, and affect the heath and position of other teeth coming in. Thumb-sucking can create malformed teeth and bite problems later. If you’re concerned about these issues, schedule your baby’s first checkup with a pediatric dentist at six months, but no later than one year.

Studies have also linked poor oral health to poor health in general. Low-grade infections in the mouth, for example, can lead to systemic illnesses such as heart and lung disease. For people with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis or Alzheimer’s, oral health can be endangered by reduced resistance to infection, bone loss and disease progression. The Journal of Periodontology also says that gum disease could cause increased respiratory infections like pneumonia.

Salem Health funds dental care vouchers

Salem Health funds dental care vouchers

Pictured: Jon Reeves, Executive Director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency; Cheryl Wolfe, President and CEO of Salem Health; Linda Mann, Director of Community Outreach for Capitol Dental Care; and Cyndi Leinassar, Deputy Director for Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency

With the help of a $25,000 Community Partnership Grant from Salem Health, the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency is able to provide 180 dental appointments to uninsured children. All of the children who receive dental vouchers have urgent or emergency dental needs. The dental voucher program is estimated to reduce hospital surgery and emergency department visits by 50 percent for the children who receive care. Read more about the grant here.