Northwest Colorado Health: Good routine critical for children’s oral health |

Northwest Colorado Health: Good routine critical for children’s oral health

Tamera Manzanares
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Northwest Colorado Health provides low-cost dental care in Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Craig.

Losing baby teeth should be exciting milestones for children, but that is not always the case.

Annie Sadvar, dental hygienist for Northwest Colorado Health, has seen the consequences of poor dental health even in the smallest of children.

“I’ve seen kids as young as age 1 with teeth so badly decayed that they have to be pulled,” she said. “Most people just don’t realize how vulnerable children are to cavities.”

Baby teeth may be temporary, but they play an important role in children’s health and development, affecting their ability to chew, speak, smile and learn. Decayed baby teeth can potentially cause infection affecting the growth of permanent teeth. When they are lost too early, baby teeth prematurely open up space that allows permanent teeth to come in crooked.

One of the most common causes of cavities in very young children is baby bottle tooth decay. Parents should avoid allowing their baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice. Wiping babies’ gums with a clean gauze pad helps remove any plague that can harm erupting teeth.

As soon as baby teeth appear, parents can brush their child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste in an amount no larger than a grain of rice.

Children can start learning to brush as soon as they can hold a toothbrush. Children age 3 to 6 should use a pea-size amount of toothpaste. Making brushing fun reinforces a good routine. Parents can make it a family affair, integrating games, songs and simple rewards, such as picking a bedtime story. Taking children shopping for a toothbrush or allowing them to pick from several toothbrushes each day can satisfy their growing independence and help them take ownership of their routine.

It’s easy to get lax on supervising children’s dental routines, but parents who stay vigilant will help their children avoid painful and potentially costly dental complications.

“I saw a 12-year-old with gums so swollen they bled to the touch,” Sadvar said. “Too often parents are not following up, and their kids are paying the price.

Regular visits to a dental provider can start as soon as a child’s first tooth appears but no later than their first birthday.

“The first appointment might be really short,” Sadvar said. “But the more comfortable the child becomes with the dental chair, the more willing they will be to continue participating in their dental health.”

Northwest Colorado Health provides dental care for all ages at clinics in Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Craig. Most insurance is accepted, including Medicaid. Families who do not have dental insurance can pay on a sliding scale. To make an appointment, call 970-824-8000.

This article includes information from and the American Dental Association.

Tamera Manzanares is Marketing Coordinator at the Northwest Colorado Health. She can be reached at or 970-871-7642.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User