According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, over 19 percent of children between 2 and 19 years old have untreated cavities. For February’s National Children’s Dental Health Month, here are a few tips to keep your children’s dental health at its best.
“Before tooth eruption, it is important to clean your baby's gums with a soft infant toothbrush,” says Dr. Cathie Hidalgo Seaman and Dr. Joel S. Butterworth of Fredericksburg Smile Center. “As soon as the first tooth erupts, you want to brush twice/day for two minutes with fluoridated toothpaste.”
Snacks. According to Fredericksburg Smile Center, children should never be given a bottle with anything besides water before bed, and drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided at all times. If fruit juice or milk is to be offered to your child, it should be given in a cup at meal/snack times. It is a good rule of thumb that they should be drinking from a cup by their first birthday. Sugary foods are the big villain, and should be avoided when possible.
Fluoride. Not only should your child be brushing with fluoride toothpaste to remove the plaque, but also children’s drinking water should be fluoridated. If your water supply does not contain fluoride, your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe fluoride supplements to fight off plaque.
Floss. Flossing removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth that brushing alone may miss. According to the Children’s Dental Village, you miss 40 percent of your tooth surfaces when you don’t floss. Parents should begin flossing for their children around age 4. Children can begin flossing for themselves around age 8.
The best way to keep children’s teeth in tip-top shape is to lead by example. Teaching children good habits now will lead to a happy, healthy smile.
To inspire children’s interest in dental hygiene, consider purchasing children’s books with entertaining stories:
• The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist: Sister Bear watches the dentist fill Brother Bear’s cavity, and then she gets a turn in the dentist chair! An entertaining and informative story for preschoolers.
• Curious George Visits the Dentist: George is nervous about his first visit to the dentist, but overcomes his fear and learns about better dental hygiene! Appropriate for young readers.
• The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums: The book makes learning dental care fun! It’s packed full of accessible advice and colorful art for all ages.