TOMS RIVER – Because developing good dental habits when you are young will save you money and unnecessary trips to the dentist when you are older, Dr. Ron Rotem, a Toms River dentist, makes it a practice to visit elementary schools in February in recognition of National Children’s Dental Health Month. “With the economy in the state it is right now, parents don’t need the additional expense of visiting a dentist, especially when most dental problems can be avoided in the first place,” says Dr. Rotem, the father of three elementary school children. Many of the children in the first grade class of Miss Elizabeth Wallace at the Ridgeway School, Manchester, are beginning to lose their baby teeth, so preventive care is especially important. In answer to why they should brush their teeth at least twice a day, the children answered: “So they don’t get rotten; so your breath doesn’t smell bad; so you don’t have to go to the dentist; so you don’t get cavities.” “Cavities really come from germs,” explained Dr. Rotem. “We get germs off our hands by washing them and we get germs out of our mouths by brushing our teeth. Germs that build up in our mouths are called plaque. When germs stay in our mouth, they mix with food, creating acid, which then makes holes in our teeth called cavities.” Each child in the class had a chance to practice good bushing skills on a giant model of a mouth after Dr. Rotem demonstrated the proper brushing technique. “Use a soft toothbrush,” Dr. Rotem told the children, “and brush inside and outside your teeth, including gums. Gums bleed when they are not healthy.” Dr. Rotem says, “Parents should begin helping their children brush their teeth as early as possible. You don’t have to do a great job; it’s more important to brush twice daily. At some point, brushing will become a habit, one that will save children pain and emotional trauma from having teeth filled, and save parents money they didn’t have to spend. Tooth decay does not heal itself.” Eat a lot of good food, stay away from sticky candy, brush, rinse your mouth after eating, floss and visit a dentist at least twice a year; and you should maintain healthy teeth and gums your whole life. Although Dr. Ron Rotem’s dental practice focuses on general and cosmetic dentistry for adults only, he takes the time during Children’s Dental Health Month to educate children about good dental hygiene. Call Dr. Rotem’s office at 732-341-8500 if your elementary school would like to schedule a classroom visit.