February is an important month in the dental field because it is National Children’s Dental Health Month, #NCHDM. It’s dedicated to increasing awareness on the importance of good oral homecare in children. It’s important for all parents to remember that baby teeth are just as susceptible to cavities as adult teeth. Children’s teeth need to stay strong, and healthy as they hold the spaces for their adult teeth, allow them to chew, speak, smile and have proper oral development. The ADA reports that children in the United States miss over 51 million hours of school each year due to dental issues, and even more surprising, approximately 17 million children go without dental care each year and pediatric dental disease is even higher, reaching approximately 44% of children before they are in kindergarten (1). This information is important because when children miss school, they miss out on very important learning skills, such as reading and writing, which are crucial stepping stones to a successful education. In addition to missing school, tooth pain can cause these children to become distracted during school causing them to have lower grades.
What can you do as a parent to provide the best dental care for your children?
1) See a dentist regularly (every 6 months starting no later than age 3)
2) Follow dental recommendation for Sealants and X-rays.
3) In addition to dental visits, homecare is the most important thing you can do daily with your child. Parents should help their children brush 2x daily using a very small smear of fl2 toothpaste, floss & when they are ready; Act Fl2 rinse. It’s encouraged that parent’s help brush & floss their children's teeth until they are about 8 years old.
4) Monitor your children’s diet; i.e. amount of sugar consumed, how often they are snacking, and most importantly not putting them to bed with a bottle or milk. Water is ok as long as it is from a proper cup that does not require them to suck on it, straws are ok.
5) Gummy vitamins are a great option for kids but they do stick to the chewing surfaces of teeth, so I encourage all vitamins to be taken with breakfast and brush teeth after.
A great website for information about children’s dental health and dental activities is: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en