Every February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month
Concord, CA Dentist Dr. Aaron Lee and the Downtown Concord Dental team know that tooth decay is a disease that is, by and large, preventable. Because of how it is caused and when it begins, however, steps to prevent it ideally should begin prenatally with pregnant women and continue with the mother and young child, beginning when the infant is approximately 6 months of age. Pediatricians have become increasingly aware that their own proactive efforts to provide education and good oral health screenings can help prevent needless tooth decay in infants.
As the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other children’s organizations report, tooth decay (also called early childhood caries, or ECC) is the most common chronic children’s disease in the country. As a result, it is very important that parents work with their pediatrician to establish good oral health care from the first weeks of their baby’s life. Although most of us think of dental care in relation to our own dentists, parents will be working closely with their pediatrician even earlier than with a dentist. Since pediatricians see young infants and children frequently for preventive health care visits, they are in an excellent position to identify children at risk for dental health problems, coordinate appropriate care and parent education, and refer affected and high-risk children to pediatric dentists.
Your Baby’s Oral Health: Never Too Early to Start
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that dental caries is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in children. More than 40 percent of children have tooth decay by the time they reach kindergarten. Children with dental caries in their baby teeth are at much greater risk for cavities in their adult teeth.
For parents who wish to establish good dental health for their infants, the following general guidelines may be of help:
1. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in many foods, and it also is added to the drinking water in some cities and towns. It can benefit dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks that can cause tooth decay. Check with your local water utility agency to find out if your water has fluoride in it. If it doesn’t, ask your doctor if you should get a prescription for fluoride drops or chewable tablets for your child.
2. Check and clean your baby’s teeth, healthy baby teeth should be all one color. If you see spots or stains on the teeth, take your baby to your dentist. As soon as your child has a tooth begin to use a smear of fluoride toothpaste and clean the teeth at least twice a day. It’s best to clean them right after breakfast and before bedtime.
3. Once your child turns 3 you can begin to use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When you child is able, teach him to spit out the excess toothpaste, but don’t rinse with water. As your child gets older let them use their own toothbrush. Until children are 7 or 8 years old, you will need to help them brush. Try brushing their teeth first and then letting them finish.
4. Always try to feed your baby healthy food, mainly drinks and foods that do not have a lot of sugar in them. Give your child fruits and vegetables instead of candy and cookies. Be careful with dried fruits, such as raisins, since they easily stick to the grooves of the teeth and can cause cavities if not thoroughly brushed off the teeth.
5. Help prevent tooth decay by not putting your baby to bed with a bottle at night or at naptime. Fill the bottle with water If you do put your baby to bed with a bottle. Milk, formula, juices and other sweet drinks, such as soda, all have sugar in them. Sucking on a bottle filled with liquids that have sugar in them can cause tooth decay. If your baby uses a pacifier, do not dip it in anything sweet like sugar or honey. Near their first birthday, you should teach your child to drink from a cup instead of a bottle.
Dr. Lee likes to see children by their first birthday or within six months of the first tooth’s emergence. At this first visit, your he can easily check your child’s teeth and determine the frequency of future dental checkups. Milk, formula, juice, and other drinks such as soda all have sugar in them. If sugary liquids stay on your baby’s teeth too long, it can lead to tooth decay. (And decayed teeth can cause pain for your baby.) To help control the amount of sugar your child consumes, always try to read food labels and choose foods and beverages that are low in added sugars. Also, select beverages, such as water, that hydrate and contribute to good nutrition. For more tips on how to get your children to eat more fruits and vegetables, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Brush up on healthy habits during National Children’s Dental Health Month
Dentists and other oral health providers across the country take time to focus on preventative oral health care for kids. The origin of NCDHM comes from a one-day event on February 3, 1941 in Cleveland, Ohio. The American Dental Association (ADA) held its first observance of Children’s Dental Health Day eight years later and in 1955 transformed into a week-long event. In 1981, the program was extended to encompass the entire month and has been sponsored by the ADA ever since 1949. Every state’s dental association celebrates NCDHM in different ways with different events. Common to each, however, are dentists conducting oral health screenings and providing educational programs for schools and community organizations.
Give Kids A Smile Program
The ADA kicks off NCDHM every year with the Give Kids A Smile, a program where dentists nationwide provide free oral health care services to children from low-income families. While the program is largely run the first Friday of February, dentists and their dental teams can run the program during any month of the year. The ADA provides several resources and training tips for the program; this year, over 400,000 kids benefited from Give Kids A Smile in the first two weeks of February.
The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General calls dental and oral diseases a “silent epidemic” that affects even children. Dental care is one of the most prevalent unmet health needs among American children, with cavities and gingivitis among the most common dental problems. Caught early and treated, they are easily corrected and do not turn into more severe problems that cause unnecessary suffering.
8 Toothy Tips for National Children’s Dental Health Month
The most important preventive step against childhood periodontal disease is to establish good oral health habits at an early age, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
Here are some basic preventive steps to help our children maintain optimal dental health:
1. Brush for two minutes, 2 times per day…with our kids.
2. Show them how to clean between teeth…FLOSS!
3. Limit sugary snacks & drinks between meals, eat healthy.
4. See the dentist regularly for family checkups, and ask about sealants & fluoride.
5. Establish good dental hygiene habits early. When your child is 12 months old, you can begin using toothpaste when brushing his or her teeth.
6. When the gaps between children’s teeth close, it’s important to start flossing.
7. Serve as a good role model by practicing good dental hygiene habits.
8. Check your child’s mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth and bad breath.
Tips on helping children brush their teeth
1. Make brushing fun! Add music or purchase a musical toothbrush for your child and encourage them to pick out their toothbrush and flavored toothpaste.
2. Explore toothpaste options until your child finds one he or she likes; you could try a liquid toothpaste like Brushing Rinse Toothpaste as a temporary solution (be sure to discuss this with your child’s dentist.)
3. Some children find electric tooth brushes help combat sensory defensiveness.
4. There are ways to desensitize gums like giving your child crunchy foods or small pieces of ice to chew prior to brushing.
5. Sometimes using warm water rather than cold helps, or have your child dip their toothbrush in hot water prior to brushing.
Download and share these National Children’s Dental Health Month Posters featuring the ADA’s 2016 slogan “Sugar Wars”- Click the here to visit ADA.org, the posters are available in both English and Spanish.
National Children’s Dental Health Month is a great time to teach kids healthy habits! This month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, health care providers and others to promote the benefits of good oral health to children and adults, caregivers, teachers and many others. For information on National Children’s Dental Health month, please visit the ADA’s website.
Please join Downtown Concord Dental in celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month
Together, we can increase awareness and education about proper oral care, and help the next generation maintain their bright, joyful smiles for years to come. Members of the community are invited to attend to learn about teeth and taking good care of them, participate in lots of fun games and activities that educate kids on oral health, and to exchange their old toothbrush for a new one that lights up. Free Dental Screenings by a local member dentist are also available for children.
If parents think that broken bones from tree climbing or tummy aches due the flu are the most common reasons children visit the emergency room, they couldn’t be further from the truth. Pediatric dental disease comes out on top as the number-one reason children go the ER every year. In fact, caries are the most common chronic childhood disease in the US – it’s even five times more common than asthma.
Find more information about kids’ oral health at MouthHealthy.org. Including how to get information about healthy habits for babies and kids. You can take a Fact or Fiction quiz about babies’ and kids’ oral health. Visit MouthHealthyKids.org for oral health videos featuring Sesame Street’s “Elmo” and PSAs from the Ad Council.
If it’s time to plan a first visit to the dentist or return visit for a check-up and cleaning, our Downtown Concord Dental is ready to put your child on the path to a lifetime of good oral hygiene. Request an Appointment and get your child off to a great start!