February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. What started as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, has evolved into a month-long, nationwide observance. Brought to you by the American Dental Association, National Children’s Dental Health Month is focused on helping children establish and maintain good oral health habits. This year, the ADA is promoting the campaign slogan: “Water, Nature’s Drink!” This serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of encouraging kids to drink water instead of sugary beverages to safeguard their smiles.
In line with the ADA’s goal to promote children’s dental care, West Coast Dental has some useful tips to help your child develop good dental habits and maintain a healthy smile. Plus, we offer comprehensive pediatric dental services to help keep your child’s dental health on track. But first, let’s discuss the top enemy of your child’s teeth.
How Common Are Cavities?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cavities are one of the most common childhood diseases in the U.S. Consider the following statistics:
- About 1 in 5 children (from age 5 to 11) have at least one decayed tooth that remains untreated.
- About 1 in 7 children (from age 12 to 19) have at least one decayed tooth that remains untreated.
- By age 5, almost 50% of children have one or more cavities.
Several factors impact your child’s risk for developing cavities. These include your family history, how often your child drinks sugary beverages and if your child wears braces or oral appliances. If poor dental health runs in your family, you will need to closely monitor your child’s dental care and inform your pediatric dentist of the potential risk. Exposing your child’s teeth to sugar for too long or too often — especially in between meals — can lead to cavities. In addition, wearing braces or appliances can make it harder for your child to brush and floss effectively.
Prevent Cavities With Dental Hygiene and Services
There are many things you can do — at home and at the dentist office — to prevent cavities and protect your child’s smile. Consider the following examples:
- Brushing and flossing: These steps are important for removing plaque, which can cause cavities and gingivitis. Help your child develop the habit of brushing twice a day for two to three minutes. Use a timer, if needed. You should also encourage your child to floss once a day.
- Dental visits: Schedule regular dental checkups with your child’s dentist. In addition to cleaning and inspecting your child’s teeth, these appointments provide your family with valuable advice on oral care as well as dental services such as topical fluoride and sealants. To consult with one of our pediatric dentists about how we can help care for your child’s smile, book an appointment today.
- Dental sealants: These sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of your child’s back teeth and can prevent 80% of cavities. Your child’s dentist can make recommendations regarding this service.
- Fluoride treatments: Fluoride is proven to help harden tooth enamel. A fluoride varnish treatment at the dentist can prevent one-third of baby teeth cavities. Drinking fluoridated tap water and brushing with fluoride toothpaste can also strengthen your child’s teeth. If your water supply doesn’t contain fluoride, ask your child’s dentist or pediatrician about fluoride supplements such as drops or lozenges.
Encourage Healthy Dental Habits
To encourage your kids to develop healthy dental habits that last a lifetime, consider the following steps:
- Educate: Set aside time to educate your family on children’s dental care benefits. Make dental care part of your family’s daily routine.
- Supervise and train: Watch how your child brushes and flosses. Show your child the right way to brush and floss so that the plaque is completely removed. Encourage them to brush the entire tooth, including the front, sides and back. If your child struggles with flossing, buy a flossing stick with a handle. Watch out for early signs of decay (e.g., white or brown spots on the teeth).
- Monitor: Keep an eye on your child’s diet. Encourage your child to choose healthy options, including vegetables, fruits and water. Limit the time and frequency that your child’s teeth are exposed to sugary substances. Have your child brush right after eating or drinking anything high in sugar. And avoid giving your child a sippy cup containing a sugary drink.
Make Dental Care Fun
There are several ways you can make pediatric dental care fun and engaging for kids. For example, you can use appealing, colorful books or videos that demonstrate good dental habits. You can also involve your child in making dental care decisions by allowing him or her to pick a toothbrush and a toothpaste. Fun colors, designs and flavors may appeal to your child’s creativity.
A reward system can also help your child commit to long-term dental health habits. For example, you can reward your child’s good dental habits with healthy snacks or stickers. However, don’t use candy or other sweets as a reward. You can also plan a fun activity to do with your child as a reward for a successful dental visit.
Importance of Dental Care for Children
Why is dental health so important for your child’s health and well-being? Because poor oral health can affect your child’s ability to play, speak and learn. Plus, kids with a healthy smile look happier, feel better while preventing dental issues down the line. At West Coast Dental, we’re here to help you create good oral dental habits with your child at a young age. We have multiple locations to serve all your pediatric dental needs.
American Dental Association (ADA) – February is National Children’s Dental Health Month
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Children’s Oral Health
Family Doctor – Dental Hygiene: How to Care for Your Child’s Teeth