The American Dental Association (ADA) established National Children’s Dental Health Month over thirty years ago to promote the benefits starting young to achieve good oral health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the country. Tooth decay affects more children than asthma or hay fever. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40% of children will have some tooth decay by the time they enter kindergarten. The good news for parents is that tooth decay is preventable!
The following recommendations will get your child off to a great start with good dental health.
- Brush and floss twice each day
The best weapons available to a parent are a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. The ADA recommends that parents teach their children to brush for two minutes two times a day—morning and evening at bedtime. Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and teach your child to avoid swallowing toothpaste. Parents should provide help and supervision until a child is about seven or eight years old.
- Limit sugary treats and drinks
This includes avoiding juice between meals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends limiting juice to four to six ounces per day. Parents can also replace sugary treats with healthy snacks such as cheese, yogurt, and fruit.
- Schedule a dental checkup
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents schedule their child’s first visit to the dentist when the child turns one year of age. First birthday equals first checkup. However, if a parent detects discoloration or staining, they should schedule an appointment right away.
- Make sure your water has fluoride
Fluoride helps teeth resist acid attacks by strengthening tooth enamel. If your local water supply does not have fluoride, talk to your dentist about fluoride drops or tablets.
National Children’s Dental Health Month is a good reminder that it’s never too early to start your child on the path of good dental health. Habits developed early tend to become lifelong habits.