Little teeth are a big deal

01.24.19

Helping kids learn to brush means a lifetime of healthy smiles. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for two minutes. That can seem like an eternity for a kid. Just ask Dr. Parita Patel, Dental Director at Health Care for the Homeless.

“I always start by asking kids about their favorite food,” she says. “They usually say something like pupusas or hot dogs or pizza. And I tell them, ‘You want to be able to eat that when you’re older, right? You’ll need your teeth to chew, so start taking care of them now.’”

Taking care of your mouth from that very first baby tooth on is important, but for families we serve, dental care is out of often out of reach.

“Over half of the families we see do not have insurance,” says Dr. Iris Leviner, Director of Pediatrics and Family Medicine. “We see a lot of dental issues and definitely some urgent needs. Most of our clients wouldn’t be able to get dental care at all without our program.”

Tooth decay is one of the top health issues facing kids in the U.S. Untreated cavities can lead to fractured teeth and infection. Children with decay in their baby teeth are much more likely to have similar problems with their adult teeth.

Our dental and pediatric teams joined forces (and expertise) to give 1,000+ children preventive dental care and nutritional counseling in 2018. During well-child checkups, we apply fluoride varnish, a simple procedure that strengthens teeth and prevents decay.

“Combining well-child visits with dental care just makes sense for these families,” Parita says. “When you teach a child the importance of brushing, flossing and healthy eating, that’s something they can keep with them when they are adults and later when they’re parents themselves. It’s very powerful.


You make us smile! Since October, 2018, you gave: $168,000 and 623 health smiles!
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