Why And How To Celebrate National Children's Dental Health Month

Up to half of all children under five have tooth decay, reports the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, learn why and how to protect your children’s teeth.

What Causes Oral Hygiene Problems?

Lack of personal dental care and dental exams contributes to oral hygiene problems in kids. Addressing these challenges can equip kids with strong oral health habits and protect their teeth for years to come.

Why is Oral Hygiene Important?

Kids must take care of their teeth to prevent bacteria growth, bad breath, plaque, and other challenges. Poor oral hygiene can cause pain and chewing difficulties, too. Plus, kids could develop cavities, swollen gums and inflammation. Left untreated, these concerns can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and loose teeth and even lead to heart disease.

Also, reports show that kids lose more than 51 millions school hours each year because of dental problems. Missed school affects academic performance, socialization and self-esteem.  

How to Encourage Good Oral Hygiene Habits

Start early and teach your young kids good oral hygiene habits. By wiping your baby's’ gums with a clean, damp cloth after meals, you prepare your kids to have a brush in their mouths.

Once your children’s teeth erupt, brush their teeth and mouth with a soft toothbrush twice a day for at least two minutes each time.

Introduce flossing when your children’s teeth start to touch. That usually happens by age three. As with other oral hygiene habits, show your kids how you floss and help them floss the right way.

Your children’s first dental visit should occur around the time their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. Most dental insurance plans for kids cover regular check-ups twice a year. During your child’s dental check-up, a pediatric dentist will clean your children’s teeth and check their mouths for any issues like cavities. You can also use the check-ups to get recommendations for better oral hygiene care.

Sometimes, toddlers and kids resist brushing. Encourage good habits with games. Get a toothbrush that plays music, challenge your kids to brush until the sand in a two-minute timer runs out or watch a favorite video clip while brushing.

Finally, eat healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables and avoid sugary sodas and juice beverages. These selections build strong teeth and reduce your kids’ exposure to sugar, which eats enamel and can cause cavities.

Good oral hygiene starts at home. This February, celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month because it’s important for your kids’ health now and into the future. For more information, talk to your dentist or child’s dental insurance provider.
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