February Is National Children’s Dental Health Month
Tips on How to Keep Your Kid’s Smile Healthy
Getting kids (from toddlers to teens) to properly take care of their teeth can be a challenge, but it’s a very important habit that isn’t necessarily taught at school. It’s up to parents or primary caregivers to teach proper brushing and flossing techniques to their children.
The goal of today’s post is to inform parents on the importance of helping their children maintain healthy mouths and to offer some tips on how to keep their kids smiling brightly!
Why Does Oral Health Matter?
Your kids’ teeth help them smile, laugh, eat and speak. They also help provide skeletal support for the shape of their faces. Untreated cavities (tooth decay) can negatively impact your child’s quality of life, self-esteem, performance at school and long-term health.
Cavities are an infectious disease that can cause pain and even tooth loss. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the single-most common chronic childhood disease—five times more common than asthma, four times more common than early childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes. Children with poor oral health are three times more likely to miss school due to dental pain, which can be related to a decrease in scholastic achievement and poor grades. Furthermore, parents are forced to take unplanned time from work to attend to their child’s oral health problems.
The good news? Tooth decay is 100 percent preventable and, when caught early, can be treated with a simple filling.
Prevention and Early Detection Are Key to Keeping a Healthy Smile
Here are some tips to keep your kids healthy, comfortable and happy:
Start cleaning your baby’s mouth with a soft cloth a few days after birth. It’s never too early to get them used to dental care.
Avoid juice, sugar water and soft drinks in bottles or sippy cups.
Encourage infants to finish their bottles before going to bed.
Your child’s first “dental well-baby checkup” should occur as soon as the first teeth appear or at least by their first birthday. This allows your baby to get accustomed to the dental team and realize that there is nothing to fear.
Brush your child’s teeth twice each day with a small amount of kid’s formulated toothpaste with fluoride. As she becomes more independent, let her brush her teeth herself, but double-check areas that she may have missed.
Children (and adults, too!) should brush for two minutes, twice a day with an appropriately sized soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
Like adults, children need to be seen by their dentist at least twice each year (every six months). This allows your dental team to detect cavities early, remove accumulated buildup and bacteria, and advise your child on how to keep her smile healthy for years to come.
Consider investing in a high-quality electric toothbrush. These brushes help improve the quality of brushing and increase compliance (because they are fun to use). That leads to fewer cavities.
Drink tap water! Most communities in our area have fluoridated water supplies. Fluoride plays an important role in preventing cavities and can even reverse early signs of decay.
- Your dental team may recommend sealants to help prevent bacteria and acids from collecting in cavity-prone areas of your child’s mouth.
Dr. Claustro and our team of dental professionals are here to answer your questions regarding your child’s oral health. Dr. Claustro will take the time to review her findings with you and to discuss your child’s individual risk factors and needs. We take pride in helping our young patients grow into “good” adult patients who enjoy their visits!
A Tip From Dee—Mother of Three!
“My husband and I have always had to struggle to get our youngest, Eli, to brush his teeth. Finally, we realized that brushing had become a chore—and nobody likes chores. So we put our heads together and made brushing fun! 2min2x.org has great music videos to brush along to, making sure Eli brushes for the full two minutes. We also got him a Sonicare Kids Electric Toothbrush that connects to an app on our smart phone and he loves it! He even wanted us to send a picture of him brushing to Dr. Claustro!”
Before joining #TeamClaustroDMD, Dee was a patient of the practice and attests to the high level of care Dr. Claustro provides.
Mouthhealthykids.org. This site provides tips for parents and fun activities to get kids motivated.
- 2min2x.org. More interactive dental fun for kids!