Kids & Cavities: Children's Dental Health Month
February is an exciting time of the year with Valentine's Day, President's Day, random snow days and many other fun events. Another holiday to celebrate this February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Many of us don't even know where to begin to protect our children's teeth, when to bring them to the dentist, or what sealants are, so if you're curious like the rest of us, this blog post is for you! Below we have the facts and recommendations on protecting your child's smile from when they're born up until when their adult teeth grow in.
Why To Care: The Facts and Figures
If you're not curious on how to take care of your children's teeth, you should be! Tooth decay, or a cavity, is known as a disease in medical terms - this disease is actually the most common disease in children. This disease is also 5 times more common than asthma in children and affects 3 in every 5 kids. Approximately 51 million hours of school are missed each year due to dental problems in children; and the estimated number of children that go without dental care each year is 17 million. Dental health is also connected to overall health, such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, and more. In order to keep our kids healthy, we should be more concerned on how to protect their baby teeth, even when they first grow in.
Baby Teeth: Little Teeth with a Big Impact
Most babies will begin teething between 6 and 12 months - but if your baby is ahead or behind of that curve, don't worry, it's totally normal for every child to be on their own timeline. When a baby is teething, their gums usually will appear more red and slightly swollen, your baby also might be drooling more than normal. Some babies will experience discomfort during this time. Some great tricks to help teething pains are letting your baby suck on a frozen or wet washcloth or a teething ring. A popular question is: When should I start brushing my kid's teeth? The answer is: the moment a little tooth pokes through the gums! Children will keep baby teeth for a very long time, up to an average of about 11 years old. Starting brushing habits early will help prevent cavities and get your child used to the feeling of a toothbrush in their mouth, preventing fussing later on in life. Once children start showing interest in brushing their own teeth you can allow them to brush on their own, however a parent should always follow and brush afterward to make sure they are cleaning every surface. Brush gently in small circles for 2 minutes, making sure to brush the top and sides of every tooth! Flossing is usually not necessary for children until the age of around 5 years old, or when recommended by your dentist or hygienist; once the teeth appear to be crowded with very small spaces in between them you should floss your child's teeth along with them to make sure they are cleaning all surfaces. Children's handheld flossers can be bought in a variety of fun shapes and colors to make flossing easy and fun!
Protecting baby teeth early will lead to lifelong healthy habits and a healthier smile!
Visiting the Dentist: The Best 2 Days of the Year!
Many people also don't know when to bring their child to the dentist, and we say it's never too early! The most important thing for young children is to learn to enjoy the dentist. At Dental BLU we make visiting the dentist a fun experience with toys, stickers and a cool new toothbrush to encourage children to come back and see how fun the dentist office is! Usually the perfect age to start bringing your child in is around 18 months to 2 years old. At their first visit, a hygienist will show them our 'big chair', 'tickle toothbrush' and count their teeth. This initial visit is important to help children learn that the dentist is fun, and to ensure your child's teeth are developing properly. After this, it's recommended to bring your child back every 6 months for cleanings and examinations by the doctor. Having your children grow up in the dentist chair is the perfect way to ensure they will never be fearful of the dentist and they will develop healthy habits!
Sealants: Protecting Groovy Teeth
Around the age of 6 your dentist or hygienist may recommend sealants for your child. Sealants are a quick, easy way to protect your child from cavities! The molars, or back teeth that do most of the grinding and chewing in the mouth, are very groovy teeth that tend to trap a lot of bacteria in little pits and ridges; these areas are hard to brush, and cavities often form here. When placing sealants we use a tooth colored material to fill in the groves on the curvy molars so that the surface of the tooth is slick and bacteria can't get trapped in the ridges. Sealants are a great way to protect your children's teeth and diminish their risk of getting decay in those groves. Most insurances will cover sealants for children, so be sure to ask about your coverage.
Fluoride: The Vitamins Our Teeth Need!
Our mouths contain bacteria that eat away at sugar and leftover residue on our teeth. These bacteria give off acid as a byproduct, and this acid is what ultimately causes decay or cavities in our mouth. Fluoride works by protecting our teeth, making them stronger and shielding them from the acid, therefore preventing tooth decay. Fluoride has been researched and shown to also reverse early signs of decay - making it an extremely important vitamin in our diet! There are many ways to obtain fluoride today, such as in tap water, through using toothpaste, and at the dentist's office. It is recommended to start using fluoride as early as possible in your child's toothpaste to allow them to get the appropriate level of these teeth vitamins; ask your dentist or hygienist for advice on when to start use of fluoride. The hygienist will also apply fluoride to your child's teeth at every 6 month checkup to protect their smile!
Aside from fluoride, there are many other beneficial vitamins for children in food. It is important that your child eats a well balanced diet, low in sugar, and gets plenty of fruits and vegetables! A sweet treat is okay every now and then, but be sure to brush and floss away the cavity-causing bacteria afterwards. Additionally, while milk and juice are usually children's favorite drinks, make sure your child is brushing their teeth after these sugary drinks and not going to sleep with a bottle. This causes the sugar and bacteria to sit on their teeth all night, easily causing cavities.
Below are some great links to make dental health a fun activity for your children:
Calendar to check off when you brush:
If you have any questions about children's dental health, call our office at (859)-442-8200.
Have a happy, healthy Children's Dental Health Month!