National Children’s Dental Health Month
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month
The February 2021 National Children’s Dental Health Month is brought to you by the ADA. This month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.
NCDHM raises awareness of how important it is for children to develop good oral habits at an early age to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) regularly recommends that children receive their first dental exam no later than one year of age to head off potential early dental problems.
What happens during a routine dental check up?
- Routine Checkups -your dentist will check all of your child’s existing teeth for decay, examine your child’s bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues.
- Nutrition and Diet Guidance – your dentist will advise parents on children’s diet, exercise, and disease preventive measures for good oral health.
- Advice and Tips for Parents – offer children and their parents’ instruction on cleaning and flossing teeth
- Basic child dentistry procedures (if need be) – Such as X-Rays, Fillings, Sealants, Fluoride Treatments, and Braces.
Here are some of the dental tips for parents.
- Visiting the dental clinic during pregnancy is safe -This ensures that you as the carrier is healthy orally and if needed follow up care will be administered
- Never share your toothbrush with another person -This is to avoid the spreading of cavities and diseases. It is also important to replace your toothbrush regularly.
- Bleeding gums are not caused by brushing rather by gum disease therefore protect against gum disease by brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly.
- Fluoridated water is safe for it keeps the teeth strong so don’t be afraid to drink or give your kids fluoridated water.
What Happens at the First Dental Visit?
We recommend taking your child for a dental visit within 6 months of the first tooth coming in (erupting), or by about 12 months at the latest. At this time, the dentist can give you information on:
- Baby bottle tooth decay
- Infant feeding practices
- Mouth cleaning
- Pacifier habits
- Finger-sucking habit
The first visit is usually a short visit lasting between 30 to 45 minutes. During the visit, your dentist will do the routine check on your child. If need be, the dentist or hygienist will clean any teeth and assess the need for fluoride.
This includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar, and stains. The dentist may show you and your child proper home cleaning such as flossing, and advise you on the need for fluoride. The dentist may also recommend X-rays to diagnose decay, depending on your child’s age. X-rays are also used to see if the root of a jammed baby tooth may be affecting an adult tooth. In general, it is best that young children not have dental X-rays unless needed. Lastly, they will educate the parents about oral health care basics for children and discuss dental developmental issues and answer any questions.
Tips to Protect your children’s teeth at home
Here are some tips to protect your children’s teeth:
- Before teeth come in, clean gums with a clean, damp cloth.
- Start brushing with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small amount of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) when your child’s first tooth appears. Use a pea-sized dab of fluoridated toothpaste after 3 years of age. This is when the child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
- Prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Don’t give children a bottle of milk, juice, or sweetened liquid at bedtime or when put down to nap.
- Limit the time your child has a bottle. Your child should empty a bottle in 5 to 6 minutes or less.
- Help your child brush his or her teeth until age 7 or 8. Have the child watch you brush, and follow the same brushing pattern to reduce missed spots.
- Limit foods and treats that increase tooth decay. This includes hard or sticky candies, fruit leather,sweetened drinks and juice. Offer fruit rather than juice. This is because the fiber in fruit tends to scrape the teeth clean unlike juice which just exposes the teeth to sugar.