National Children’s Dental Health Month

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

Dental health for children is so important.

How is the dental health of your children?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 19% of American kids, age 2-19, have untreated cavities. To our success, the statistic is reduced since the 1970’s, especially in the age group over 6 years old. However, untreated cavities are painful and dangerous. Tooth decay leads to root decay and gum and other health problems.

How do I begin teaching my small child about dental health?

Start with healthy foods at a very early age. Sugary snacks and drinks lead to a higher incidence of cavities. Crunchy vegetables are the best snack to fight decay, as their crunchiness cleans the teeth and they do not have the high sugar content to get stuck in teeth. Also, a combination of calcium and vitamin D in snacks and drinks helps develop stronger teeth, such as non-flavored milk and yogurt.

As an important side note here, flavored milk is counter intuitive to the dental benefits of non-flavored milk. In fact, most flavored milks have more added sugar than soda. Speaking of soda, many dentists believe the tooth decay problem is occurring at a younger age because many children drink soda. Soda has not only added sugar, but added acids that can damage the outer layer of enamel.

Tooth brushing starts at the first tooth. When a baby starts getting teeth, the parent or caregiver should be brushing the tooth or teeth with plain water and a baby toothbrush twice a day. As the child gets older, the parent can use a non-flouride toothpaste and a children’s toothbrush. Flouride toothpaste can be added when the child has better control of the swallow reflex and is less likely to swallow the toothpaste. A great toothbrushing product for young children is the Firefly toothbrush, which flashes for the amount of time it should take to brush the child’s teeth.

For a while, during the years a child is developing fine motor skills, it is important to allow the children to try to brush by themselves, but then to check their work. You can always go over them one more time, and remind your child to brush gently, pull away from the gums, and get behind teeth. Another process that can start early is flossing. New tools, such as floss picks, can ease the use of dental floss while getting between teeth. Most cavities occur between teeth, so flossing early can be very beneficial in preventing cavities.

As my child gets older, how do I continue the practice of good dental habits?

If these habits are ingrained early on, they tend to stick. Kids will automatically reach for the toothbrush and floss if they have always done it. They will reach for vegetables if the household offers them and it is part of the house culture. With a strong household of healthy habits, the trip to the dentist should be easy!

Professional help with dental health for children should start at an early age.  Find a pediatric dentist near you.  If you live in Jacksonville, Florida give Dr. James McCall a call for a dental check up for your children. Remember, twice a year to keep their teeth healthy!

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