Today's guest blogger is Edward Moody, DDS, a pediatric dentist in Morristown, Tennessee and President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

As parents and caregivers resolve to develop new healthy habits for their families in 2015, finding a dental home – the home base for your child's oral health needs – should be at the top of your list. If you are among those parents striving to fulfill a checklist of healthy promises for your family, remember that good oral health is a vital part of overall health and well-being, and finding a dental home will ensure the best care for little teeth.

What is a dental home?

A dental home is the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible and family-centered way. While it's ideal to establish a dental home by age 1, it is never too late! In addition to the regular cleaning and care provided at twice yearly check-ups, your pediatric dentist will provide parents and caregivers personalized guidance and tips to help children establish healthy habits at home.

Why is this important?

Finding a pediatric dentist to establish a dental home is vital to keeping little teeth healthy - here are some important reasons why:

  • Prevention keeps kids cavity-free. Tooth decay is a significant problem with young children in the U.S. – nearly 60 percent of children have it by age 5. The good news that it is nearly 100 percent preventable. A dental home ensures that you have the knowledge and tools you need to help your kids maintain healthy teeth and prevent cavities.
  • Help when an accident happens. As all parents know, it's always good to expect the unexpected! Do you know who to call if your child chips or knocks a tooth out? The answer should be your pediatric dentist.
  • Specialized training. Pediatric dentists receive two to three years of training beyond dental school on child psychology, growth and development, and special health care needs.
  • A welcoming environment. Pediatric dental offices are kid-friendly and family-oriented because making kids feel relaxed and comfortable is a priority. After all – what kid would not look forward to an office with cartoons on TV, their favorite books, stickers and goody bags all tailored to make them smile!

So how do I find a dental home?

Whether it's through a pediatrician, school nurse or other parents, it's common to find a pediatric dentist by word of mouth through a trusted contact. Since pediatricians and school nurses have good working relationships with pediatric dentists in the area, they can make recommendations for your family. You can also use a pediatric dentist finder on mychildrensteeth.org to find a pediatric dentist near you.

By finding a dental home, you will have a trusted partner to help keep your children'teeth healthy. Check out this story about one mom's perspective on why she is happy that she found a dental home for her son.

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