February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. During National Children’s Dental Health Month, dental professionals, dental educators, and parents promote the many benefits of good oral hygiene to kids. It’s vital that children learn early in life to make dental hygiene part of their daily routine. Keeping teeth healthy is much easier and more convenient than replacing them, so the earlier kids learn to stick to great oral health habits, the better.
How do I promote and encourage good oral health for my children?
The first way to encourage your kids to learn good oral hygiene is to model it. Show your kids the behaviors you want them to emulate and set a good example of the habits you want your kids to learn. Make brushing fun and involve your kids. Even toddlers need to be taught about the importance of dental health. Help them pick out their very own toothbrush and choose a toothpaste that’s ADA approved and great-tasting for kids. Different fun flavors are plentiful. Just make sure it’s a fluoride toothpaste.
Teach your kids the following habits:
Brush twice a day. Make sure to use an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste. When kids are just a little older than toddlers, teach them about how plaque is a sticky film that sticks to teeth, full of bacteria that damage everyone’s teeth, kids and adults alike.
Floss at least once a day. Flossing removes plaque from above and below the gumline. It’s crucial to good oral health to get rid of as much plaque as possible before it gets the chance to harden into tartar. Plaque and tartar accumulate on children’s teeth just like on adults’ teeth. Once tartar has formed, only a dentist can remove it during a professional teeth cleaning. Floss your child’s teeth for them around age 4. By age 7 or 8, they can start flossing on their own. You may need to visit a pediatric dentist to learn how to effectively floss your child’s teeth.
Make sure your kids have fluoridated water. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens and reinforces tooth enamel. It’s is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to fight tooth decay. Fluoride is included in the water system in many municipalities. If your local water supply doesn’t contain fluoride, your dentist may be able to prescribe oral fluoride supplements, including gels and mouthwashes.
Help your child get comfortable visiting the dentist
Choose a pediatric dentist for your little one’s dental needs. A pediatric dentist has specialized training in the unique needs of children. They provide a comprehensive range of services, including:
- Infant oral health exams
- Teeth cleaning and fluoride treatments, if necessary. Going to the dentist for painless preventive dental care is a great way to reinforce that there’s no need to be scared of going to the dentist
- Assessment of conditions like malocclusion and crooked teeth, as well as treatment for those conditions.
- Tooth fillings
- Dental sealants. Dental sealants are tough but thin plastic coatings that are placed on the chewing surfaces of a child’s teeth, particularly their back teeth, where cavities are common. Getting sealants applied doesn’t hurt.
- Pediatric dentists can also perform frenectomies, which are minor surgical procedures that correct problems like a young child being “tongue-tied”
Make sure to limit or eliminate sugary, starchy snacks. Even healthy foods like fresh fruit, dried fruit, and granola contain sugars that attract enamel-damaging bacteria. Teach your children to practice brushing after eating sugary foods.
Your pediatric dentist can also come to the rescue if your child damages or knocks out a tooth. The sooneryou get to your child’s dentist, the better. Give your child over-the-counter pain relievers and get to the dentist immediately. Even if it’s a baby tooth that’s been knocked out, place it in water or milk and go to the dentist. Baby teeth serve an essential function and can be re-implanted.
National Children’s Dental Health Month helps bring attention to the oral health needs of kids across the nation. It’s all too easy to presume that simply because a child isn’t complaining of tooth pain, they’re fine. Childhood is the best time to engrain good health habits that will last a lifetime. In February, celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month and teach your kids about the value of good oral hygiene. For any further questions about how to help your child kickstart their oral hygiene, give us a call at Lifetime Dental Health!