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Children's Dental Health Month with Elizabeth Waters, DMD, MS, Orthodontist

Somehow January has passed us by, and we are into February! February is deemed National Children's Dental Health Month by the American Dental Association. Dentists and orthodontists across the country are excited to spread awareness about the importance of children's oral health; we had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Waters, DMD, MS, Orthodontist of DuPlessis Orthodontics for this feature. Read on for her answers to the top questions parents have about their kiddo's teeth and scroll allllll the way down to meet some of our fave local dentists.

What is the purpose of ‘baby’ teeth?

Teething can be a memorable event for new parents, but it is thankfully short-lived. Baby teeth are important because they allow children to eat and speak properly and hold SPACE for permanent teeth. Keeping all baby teeth until they are naturally ready to come out will prevent permanent teeth from becoming stuck or ‘impacted’.

When do I start brushing my baby's teeth?

As soon as the 1st baby tooth starts erupting through their gums, start brushing with an infant toothbrush or damp cloth to remove the white film (plaque) that hides near the gums. Learning to take care of their baby teeth as a child will ensure that they know how to properly take care of their permanent teeth in the future.

Will my baby like brushing their teeth?

NO! They do not like it, but eventually become accustomed to the routine. A couple of tips for making this transition easier:

  1. Brush your teeth in front of them to reduce the notion that it is a scary and foreign thing to do.

  2. Play or sing a song while brushing to attach a positive stimulus to the habit. Make it fun! There are lots of short YouTube videos for brushing inspiration.

  3. Gradually build up the time you spend brushing their teeth, eventually making it to 2X a day for 2 minutes.

What are the best ways to establish good oral hygiene habits with my child?

Limit SUGAR intake! Sugar is one of the number one causes of oral health issues in children. According to the CDC, more than 40% of children suffer from tooth decay by the time they enter Kindergarten (CDC 2020). One of the ways to combat cavities is to offer only milk and water to drink. Sugary drinks like juice, soda, Kool-Aid, and sports drinks should be given infrequently. Use other rewards besides sweet treats for jobs well done (i.e. going to see a movie, tokens to collect for a certain toy, etc.).

When should my child see a dentist for the first time?

As soon as their 1st tooth erupts or around 1 year old. The first visit is to get your child comfortable with the environment and the Hygienist and Dentist. Dental visits are just as important as well-child visits to the pediatrician!

When should my child start seeing an Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends making their 1st trip around 7-8 years old when permanent upper front teeth (incisors) have erupted. This initial exam is very brief and will look for any abnormalities. Only about 20% of children need ‘early’ treatment due to a bite issue or stuck teeth. This type of treatment is called Phase 1. It is limited to a short time and is performed when the child is in the mixed dentition (baby teeth and permanent teeth). Phase 2 is a longer treatment when the child has all their permanent teeth and lasts an average of two years.

By creating a solid foundation for dental health, children will have healthy oral hygiene habits ingrained in them from the start. Healthy teeth allow the child to maintain a healthy body and mind which is the parents’ main goal! Happy brushing and flossing!

Dr. Elizabeth DuPlessis Waters DMD, MS, Orthodontist

DuPlessis Orthodontics

Do you have a kid getting braces this year?! Or perhaps you're getting braces yourself? We would love to see your smile. Tag us on Instagram at @ElizabethtownLifestyle! Follow on your favorite social sites: Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. In addition, you can tag us in your Instagram posts (#elizabethtownlifestyle)! As always, thanks so much for joining us on the blog!

Happy Flossing Elizabethtown!


Roderick (Eric) N. Abang, DMD

Elizabethtown Native, Dr. Eric Abang graduated right here in Etown, Elizabethtown High School Class of '86. After high school, he attended

Bellarmine for undergrad and then the University of Louisville School of Dentistry for his DMD. He completed a dental residency program for Pediatric Dentistry at Children’s Hospital of Detroit in 1999 and has been practicing in Elizabethtown and Louisville since then. Dr. Abang practices at Elizabethtown Dentistry for Children.


Nicholas C. Murphy, DMD

Dr. Nick Murphy has been practicing dentistry for 32 years. He graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology then attended the University School of Dentistry for his DMD. He is certified through the Children’s Hospital Cincinnati in Pediatric Dentistry and a member of the American Dental Association, Kentucky Dental Association, and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Married to wife Glenda, they have four children: Zac, Jordan, Alex, and Katie, plus two grandchildren Oakley and Katalina, and one on the way. In his free time, Doctor Murphy golfs. Dr. Murphy practices at Elizabethtown Dentistry for Children.

DENTAL HEALTH TIP: When giving children sugary drinks (juice milk, etc.), have them drink in one sitting. Do not allow children to sip over 3-4 hours because of the constant source of sugar.

Marianne Sheroan, DMD

Dr. Marianne Sheroan graduated from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in 2000 and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003 specializing in Pediatric Dentistry. She has lived and worked in Hardin County since 2003. Community presence and involvement in this area is her top priority. Dr. Sheroan practices at Elizabethtown Dentistry for Children.

DENTAL HEALTH TIP: Keep two fluoridated toothpastes on hand for your child! Rather than commanding them to brush their teeth, ask them to go choose their toothpaste! Be firm in your expectations, but invite them to be part of the process.

Susan M. King, DMD

Dr. Susan M. King is a family dentist who has practiced in a Hardin County for over 33 years. She graduated from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry,and the University of Kentucky Dental General Practice Residency Program. She has been an advocate the for oral health needs of our community for many years. In addition to her full-time dental practice, she is a volunteer faculty member for the U of L Dental School, the Red Bird Methodist Mission in Appalachia, and the Community Health Clinic in Elizabethtown. Susan King and her husband, John Ashcraft, reside in Elizabethtown with their dogs Atticus and Julep, and cats, Parker and Kitten. They share five children and five grandchildren. Dr. King’s hobbies include knitting, biking, reading, and gardening. She greatly enjoys practicing with her daughter, Dr. Claire Brown, in Radcliff, Kentucky.

DENTAL HEALTH TIP: Active children sometimes have accidents that involve their teeth. If your child participates in sports, make sure that they use safety equipment properly and encourage them to wear athletic mouth guards during practice and games. Unfortunately, accidents sometimes happen; if they do, be sure to have a dentist evaluate any dental injuries as soon as possible to minimize the risk of long-term problems.

M. Claire Brown, DMD

Dr. Claire Brown is a licensed dentist in Radcliff, Kentucky. Dr. Brown received her dental degree at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry with an Advanced Education General Dentistry residency program through the University of Florida. Her residency focused on comprehensive care for patients of all ages. In her time away from teeth, she enjoys running, snuggling her two Boston Terrier / French Bulldog mixes and cooking with her fiancé, Reid. Dr. Brown practices at her family practice with her mother Susan M. King, DMD.

DENTAL HEALTH TIP: Brush together. Brushing habits make an impact as kids get older when the choose to implement the practices they learned from mom, dad, or their caregiver. Make sure you brush with your child for two minutes, twice a day. If children observe parents practicing good daily dental habits, they will follow your example.

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Malik Saab
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