February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health in youth.
Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Parenting may not come with a guide but good oral hygiene for kids can.
Begin using toothpaste to brush your child's teeth when he (or she) is 2 years old. Young children tend to swallow toothpaste when brushing, rather than spitting it out. Introduce fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough not to swallow it. Your little bundle should be seen by a dentist by their second birthday. As children grow to become preschoolers, make brushing a fun game to teach how to brush and for how long. Brush every morning and every evening for at least two minutes. Some fun ideas are: have them brush until the end of the ABC song, or by using an hourglass. Take good care of your child's baby teeth and teach them to do the same. They do eventually fall out but until they do, baby teeth play an important role in helping your child bite & chew food, to speak more clearly, and act as guides for the permanent teeth to follow. Once this routine is set in place and kids grow to become school aged, snaggle-toothed cuties emerge.
When a child is about 6 years old, his/her teeth will begin to come loose. Let your child wiggle the tooth until it falls out on its own. If the tooth does not come out on its own in a timely manner, you may want to contact us for an appointment. Either way, congratulations, you have now reached Tooth Fairy status. Also, as six-year molars begin to erupt, it is a good idea for your children to have sealants painted onto their teeth. Sealants act as a barrier, protecting tooth enamel from plaque bacteria and acid. Teenagers tend to be very busy and somewhat sloppy in the personal hygiene department. Cavities can develop when sugar-containing foods are allowed to stay in the mouth for a long time. Bacteria that live on the teeth try to break down the food and can eat away at a tooth's enamel. Saliva washes away the acid between meals, but if your child is always eating or drinking sodas and sugary drinks, there may not be time for this acid to get washed away. Even if you are the bad-guy, continue to impress on your children the importance of caring for their teeth and brushing twice daily. Arranging for regular dental checkups can help remind your teen to keep brushing too and try offering disposable toothbrushes for overnight sleep-overs.
The most important thing about caring for your child's oral health is to take them to the dentist every six months, without fail, teach them to brush two times a day, smile and make brushing fun!