Oh, for tooth’s sake.

When it comes to little kids and teeth, the first thing that comes to mind is fun flavored toothpaste and the Tooth Fairy. However, there’s more to that story…

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of oral health. Taking care of your pearly whites is necessary at all ages, but teaching your kids about proper oral care while they’re young is even more essential.

So, let’s chat and chew about simple steps you can take to help your child properly care for his or her teeth.

THE FACTS

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in baby teeth; 21% of those ages 6 to 11 have had cavities in permanent teeth.”   The CDC also says, tooth decay is the most common childhood disease—five times more common than asthma to be exact. It’s also almost entirely preventable.

The root of the problem doesn’t stop there though. Check out this infographic to learn more.

THE TIMELINE

Research shows that good dental habits should start before your child’s first tooth comes in—certainly before the age of two. FamilyDoctor.org suggests, “wiping your baby’s gums with a soft damp cloth after feedings [to help] prevent a buildup of bacteria.” As your child begins to age, they become more susceptible to oral hygiene issues. Don’t delay when it comes to teaching your kids about proper dental health! See the image below for a timeline of your child’s dental health.

Childrens-Dental-Health-Month-Infographic

Image source: Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of the Main Line / Bryn Mawr, PA 

THE COLGATE WAY

While the following steps may seem obvious, the facts paint a different picture. Shockingly, young children miss 51 million hours of school each year because of oral disease! So, rather than have your child sit in a dentist chair instead of a desk chair, remember these simple, yet important, reminders provided by Colgate:

  • Brush twice a day for 2 minutes
  • Begin flossing for your child at age 4 / floss on their own by age 8
  • Use dental products (i.e. fluoride)
  • Make sure your child’s drinking water is fluoridated
  • Always take your child to the dentist for regular check-ups (twice per year)
  • Avoid carbonated beverages, which can wear down the enamel on teeth; sport drinks and juice pouches have high acid levels and are also bad for teeth

Maintaining a balanced diet is another key part that is necessary for your child to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth. Chew on these suggestions from WebMD to help protect your child’s teeth.

  • Eat fruits and vegetables. Consider options that have a high volume of water, such as pears, melons, celery, and cucumbers. If your child likes bananas or raisins, always brush right after eating.
  • Say cheese. Eating cheese as a snack or with lunch triggers the flow of saliva, which in turn washes food particles away from teeth. Try cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, or other aged cheeses.
  • Mix-in the sugar. It’s hard to convince a adult, let alone an child, to cut out all snacks. If you plan on giving your child sweets, do it immediately following a meal. Since there is an increased amount of saliva already in your child’s mouth, it will be easier to wash away the sugar.
  • Avoid foods that linger. Foods that tend to overstay their welcome include hard candies, cough drops, and mints. They constantly coat the teeth with sugar, which can lead to tooth decay.
  • Drink milk. Simply put, calcium is essential to build strong teeth.

As with most habits, the younger you start, the more likely you are to stick with them as you grow up. Help your child develop great oral hygiene skills to avoid any long-term, painful, and expensive health issues down the road. In the end, your child will thank you for their million dollar smile!

Compass Rose Health Plan members have access to a Discount Dental & Vision Program through Careington included with coverage. For more information, visit www.compassrosebenefits.com/Careington.  

References:

  1. WebMD
  2. Colgate 
  3. Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of the Main Line
  4. USA TODAY
  5. American Dentist Association
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