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February Is National Children's Dental Health Month

We all want our children to grow up to be happy and healthy adults. Oral health is an essential part of everyone’s well-being, so right now is a great time to make plans for improving or maintaining your child’s oral healthcare. January is a time for creating new habits, February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, March usually begins new sporting activities, so start today by making plans to incorporate your family’s dental health into new routines. Nearly one in three children ages two to five years old in the U.S. are affected by tooth decay. Read on for helpful tips on protecting your children's teeth from local dentist M. Claire Brown, D.M.D.


While all parents know baby teeth eventually fall out, it’s important to keep them healthy. After all, they’re the blueprint for your child’s permanent teeth! Some of the most common causes of childhood cavities are diet and oral home care. Unfortunately, the typical American diet includes frequently eaten snacks or treats that are high in carbohydrates and sugars which can make cavities grow. With proper dental hygiene, tooth decay is nearly 100 percent preventable. And, since baby teeth are vulnerable to decay from their very first appearance, children’s teeth should be brushed for two minutes two times a day and flossed as soon as they start touching.


Remember to brush your child’s teeth until he or she is 8 or 9, even though they are brushing themselves. Brushing before bed is the most important time to brush. Always encourage your child to drink water instead of juice, soda, or sports drinks. If they drink that occasional sugary drink, make sure they brush or swish with water soon afterward. There are small yet important changes you can make today to ensure your child is set up for a lifetime of healthy habits and good dental health. Here are some tips you can implement right away:


Create a Dental Home by Age One

Starting regular oral care at a young age will lead to healthy oral health habits for life, so take your child to a dentist by age one, or at the sign of his or her first tooth.


Brush Together

Brushing habits make an impact as kids get older when they choose to implement the practices they learned from mom, dad or their caregiver. Make sure you brush with your child for two minutes, twice a day. If children observe parents practicing good daily dental habits, they will follow your example.


It’s How Often, Not How Much

How often, not how much your child eats and drinks throughout the day is a significant factor in causing tooth decay. Don’t let your child snack or drink apple juice or orange juice all day. Stick to designated meal times, with water in between, and limit snacking to no more than three times a day.


Toothaches Can Talk

It is crucial not to ignore toothaches at any age. This is especially true with young children, as toothaches can be a warning sign for several ailments, including cavities or infection, which can be treated and prevented if caught early.


Preventing Dental Accidents

Active children sometimes have accidents that involve their teeth. If your child participates in sports, make sure that they use safety equipment properly and encourage them to wear athletic mouthguards during practice and games. Unfortunately, accidents sometimes happen; if they do, be sure to have a dentist evaluate any dental injuries as soon as possible to minimize the risk of long-term problems.


ARTICLE CONTRIBUTED BY M. CLAIRE BROWN

M. Claire Brown, D.M.D., is a licensed dentist in Radcliff, Kentucky. Dr. Brown received her dental degree at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry with an Advanced Education General Dentistry residency program through the University of Florida. Her residency focused on comprehensive care for patients of all ages.


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