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Thursday, February 10th, 2011 -- 2:00 PM

February is National Children?s Dental Health Month.

Every year, about this time, we get a visit from Dr. Tom Gelhaus, a dentist from Owen.

So, when should kids first see the dentist?

"We used to say 'before they start school,' than they said 'before school was a good time,' now we're establishing programs to have them come in when they're still in mom's tummy," Gelhaus says.

And, there are things an expecting mother can do. For instance, new research shows a sugar called xylitol helps kill the bacteria that lead to cavities, and can even help unborn babies.

"That is a sugar that is in candies and gums. It reduces the bacteria count in the people that are consuming it and that includes the moms," he says, "and we've found if we can reduce the bacteria count in moms, we'll see up to 70% decreases in children's problems because moms aren't passing that bacteria on to their babies."

Gelhaus says one of the best ways to protect kids' teeth is to use sealants?preferably glass ionemer, rather than plastic. Research shows sealants may even do a better job than brushing.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.