Every child deserves to have a healthy start in life. That includes a smile filled with healthy teeth and gums.
As National Children’s Dental Health Month comes to a close, let’s recognize the importance of oral health for kids. It’s never too soon to introduce good oral health habits.
Even though tooth decay is almost entirely preventable, it remains the most common childhood chronic disease, with nearly half of 5-year-olds nationwide experiencing at least one cavity. Painful cavities interfere with a child’s ability to concentrate in school and eat nutritious foods that help them grow and thrive. And even though permanent teeth eventually take their place, baby teeth play an important role in long-term oral health. If children remain cavity-free until age three, they are more likely to have better oral health for a lifetime.
Children are not born with the bacteria that cause dental disease; however, they can soon get exposed to this infectious disease. Caregivers pass cavity-causing bacteria to their babies through kissing and sharing food. So, moms, get dental care and any needed treatment during pregnancy. Taking care of your own oral health can decrease your baby’s risk for developing tooth decay.
Throughout childhood, you can help your kids prevent cavities by adopting good oral health habits. Below are some tips to help your children maintain a healthy and happy smile:
- Demonstrate the importance of good oral health habits by practicing good oral health yourself.
- Clean infant gums daily with a warm, damp cloth.
- Brush teeth twice daily for two full minutes with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste until age 2 and then a pea size amount after that.
- Floss daily as soon as teeth touch.
- Have your children’s teeth checked by a dentist or doctor by age one.
- Replace sugary snacks with healthier alternatives, such as fresh fruit, raw vegetables, nuts, low-fat yogurt, cheese and crackers.
- Encourage children to drink plenty of water; limit sweet drinks.
Learn more at www.kidsoralhealth.org.