Monday, February 1, 2010

National Children’s Dental Health Month

The month of February is filled with chocolate and candy as people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day. This sweet holiday also brings toothaches and cavities. Ironically, February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and a chance for parents to help their kids brush up on good oral hygiene.

Today during the Monday morning WUSA9 DC Moms Like Me segment, Jessica Doyle shared some ideas for helping your family develop and maintain proper dental hygiene.

February is the perfect time for parents to help their kids brush up on good oral hygiene.

In 1941 Children’s Dental Health Month started as a weeklong event in Akron, Ohio. It is now a nationwide program.

And, something very important for parents to sit up and take note is that a recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children between the ages of 2 and 5 are more likely to have tooth decay now than in the past. Good care of a child’s teeth from primary teeth to adult teeth is very important.

It is important to note that poor oral hygiene is linked serious common diseases. Teeth are the only non-shedding surface in the body, which suggests that the teeth have the highest bacterial levels in the entire body.

A recent clinical study shows a direct link between poor oral hygiene and serious common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, and osteoporosis.


Why are baby teeth important? Don’t children just loose them?

Baby Teeth are important because:
---They help children chew food
---They help children speak and develop speech correctly
---They guide permanent teeth into place
Starting to teach good oral health care when children are very young is also good because it becomes a life long habit for them.

--Tips for Healthy Teeth –

Brush and floss everyday.
Yes, Children should brush at least twice a day to remove the plaque that can lead to cavities. Flossing daily removes food debris that a toothbrush cannot reach. Even children as young as 3 or 4 months should begin having their teeth brushed regularly.

Visit the dentist regularly.
You and your children should visit the dentist every six months for regular check ups and cleanings. Fluoride treatments twice a year will help prevent tooth decay.

Wear a mouth guard while playing sports.
Mouth guards greatly reduce the chance of injury to the mouth and teeth. Athletes are 60% more likely to have an injury of the mouth if they are not wearing a mouth guard. 80% of injuries involve the front teeth and soft tissues such as the tongue.

Choose snacks wisely and eat nutritiously.
Sugars from sweet drinks or food can quickly hurt young teeth if not removed. And, certainly letting a baby nurse on a bottle overnight is definitely not a good idea as overnight the milk or juice will quickly rot those baby teeth.

Replace your toothbrush regularly.
You should replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months or after a cold or illness to prevent re-infection. You should use a soft toothbrush so you won’t wear off the enamel of your teeth.

LET YOUR CHILD BRUSH WHILE YOU BRUSH. They love to mimic their parents. Then at the end you can make sure they did a good job. Make it fun. If a child can brush their teeth as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, that is long enough.

These tips might seem easy to parents but as moms know getting children interested in dental health can be challenging.

Here are some cute ideas from Amanda Ayers with the Marine Corp. Healthy Kids Fun Run to make oral health care more fun and exciting for children:

-----Use the old toothbrush for a craft idea.
Try letting children use their old toothbrush to paint pictures instead of a paintbrush. Draw a picture of teeth and use white paint and an old toothbrush to “clean” the teeth.

----Apples are nature’s toothbrush.
Try Apple Smiles snacks to teach children the importance of eating nutritiously. Cut apples into wedges to use as lips. Smear peanut butter, which makes for great edible “glue”, on one side of the two wedges. Stick marshmallows, or the “teeth”, on the peanut butter on one of the apple wedges and top with the other apple wedge peanut butter side down for a delicious, healthy smile!

When should you start thinking about braces for your child?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7. An orthodontist can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present.

If parents need more help, we have several articles and a list of pediatric dentists on our web site

Happy Parenting,


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  6. Dental Health Care is one of the best prevention programs to ensure fresh breath, healthy mouth and teeth for life. Dental diseases are not considered to be fatal. Hence very often people neglect the importance of oral hygiene.

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