February is National Children’s Health Month
First Tooth, First Birthday, First Dental Visit.
New parents often ask, “When should my child first see a dentist?” It’s never too early to start focusing on your child’s oral health! The American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommends that parents establish a dental home for their child by their first tooth or first birthday. While daily brushing is an important part of a child’s oral hygiene routine, bacteria that causes tooth decay can still linger between teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach. That’s why it’s so important to help your kids incorporate flossing in their daily routine. One significant oral health risk for infants and young children under the age of 1 is from baby bottle tooth decay. This occurs when your child consumes sugary liquid and bacteria in their mouth consume the sugar and produce acid. This acid attacks the enamel on baby teeth can trigger tooth decay after continued exposure. Liquids that contribute to this condition include milk, formula, fruit juice, soda, and any other sweetened drinks. If your child needs to sleep with a bottle, water is the safest option without any risk.
Parents, Did You Know?
Early childhood tooth decay has become the most common chronic childhood disease, impacting more children than asthma. According to the ADA, more than 40% of children have tooth decay by the time they reach Kindergarten.
Tips for Maintaining Your Child’s Oral Health
Schedule routine check-ups. If it’s been more than six months since your child has seen a dentist, schedule an appointment as soon as possible
Brush twice each day for two minutes. Children ages 2-6 should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Always supervise kids younger than six years old while brushing, as they are more likely to swallow toothpaste.
Begin flossing. Once your child’s teeth touch, you can start flossing in between them.
Snack healthy! Fruit juice, sports drinks, fruit snacks, and sticky candies all pose serious threats to your child’s teeth. Give kids calcium-rich snacks like cheese or low-sugar yogurt. If you have to resort to candy – a chocolate bar is preferable to gummy or sticky sweets that can get lodged in between the teeth, even after brushing.
Keep them hydrated! Avoid sugary drinks and stick to good old-fashioned water. Water helps to rinse away any sugar or particles that can lead to cavities. Many municipal water sources also contain fluoride, which is recommended by the American Dental Association and U.S. Surgeons General, among others, as an efficient way to prevent tooth decay. In fact, the theme of this year’s National Children’s Dental Health Month is celebrating 75 years of water fluoridation.
Replace your child’s toothbrush every three to four months.