girl brushing teeth
February is traditionally full of sweet treats. This month marks the anniversary of National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommendations for promoting good dental health in children.
Regular care by a dental professional. During regular well-child visits, your child’s pediatrician will check your child’s teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy. If your child has dental problems, your child’s pediatrician may refer you to a dental professional.
Getting enough fluoride. Fluoride is a natural chemical that can be added to drinking water and toothpaste. It strengthens tooth enamel (the hard outer coating on teeth). Fluoride also helps repair early damage to teeth. Because children tend to swallow toothpaste, put only a small (pea-sized) amount of fluoride toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush and press the toothpaste into the bristles. Taking in too much fluoride while brushing can result in fluorosis (spotting of the teeth).
Regular brushing and flossing. Daily dental cleaning should start as soon as your infant’s first tooth appears. Wipe the teeth with a piece of gauze or a damp cloth. Switch to a toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste as your child gets older. Any 2 teeth that are touching each other should be flossed to prevent a cavity from forming between the teeth.
Eating right. For healthy teeth, offer your child a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods. Drinking water with fluoride is an excellent way to keep teeth healthy.
Good dental habits. Regular dental checkups, a balanced diet, fluoride, injury prevention, habit control, and brushing and flossing are all-important for healthy teeth. Starting children off with good dental habits now will help them grow up with healthy smiles.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants receive oral health risk assessments by 6 months of age. Infants at higher risk of early dental cares should be referred to a dentist as early as 6 months of age and no later than 6 months after the first tooth erupts or 12 months of age (whichever comes first). Also, all children should have a comprehensive dental exam by a dentist in the early toddler years. Finally, don’t put your child to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. This practice can cause tooth decay.
Article courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information, visit their Web site at www.aap.org.