When it comes to good oral care, children are still learning best practices and it's important that parents, caregivers, and teachers provide ongoing guidance to help them develop and maintain a healthy smile. To remind us of this, February is designated as National Children's Dental Health Month (sponsored by the ADA and Crest + Oral B in 2018). During this month-long recognition, parents, teachers, and others are encouraged to make educating children on good oral health practices a priority.
This year's National Children's Dental Health Month campaign slogan is: "Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile." This reminds us that the use of fluoride helps to strengthen kids' teeth and cleaning between teeth with a toothbrush and floss can remove bacteria and prevent plaque - a necessary part of maintaining good oral health.
Some simple things you can do to encourage children in your care to have good oral health habits during the month of February (and ongoing):
- Brush babies' teeth
Even if your kids only have one or two teeth, it's still important to get those teeth clean. Beginning to brush at a young age also starts the habit early on.
- Get to the dentist early
Kids as young as a year old can get a dentist checkup to make sure things are developing correctly and there are no issues. It also gets them comfortable with going to the dentist.
- Brush twice a day and floss daily
Kids should brush their teeth twice a day as adults do. It is also important that they floss daily to make sure they remove the build up of food and plaque between their teeth. Caregivers will likely need to help with both brushing and flossing until kids are able to do it sufficiently on their own.
- Be sure to visit the dentist twice a year
It's important that kids have their teeth professionally cleaned every six months. Doing so helps to remove the build up that regular brushing and flossing doesn't remove and allows for addressing minor problems before they become bigger ones.
- Make healthy food choices
What you eat can have a big impact on your oral health. It's important that kids get enough calcium at a young age for the formation and strengthening of teeth.
Following these tips will help ensure your children practice good oral health as they get older. Waiting too long to introduce these habits or delaying visits to the dentist can cause dental visits to be seen as something scary instead of healthy. Even if you are already practicing these habits with your kids or your kids are older, try using the month of February to make sure they are brushing and flossing properly, confirm you have your next dentist visit set up, and remind your children that their diet can have an impact on their oral health.
Just for fun! Below are links to some fun activities provided by the ADA for kids to get them thinking about their oral health and start to build healthy habits.