February is Children’s Dental Health Month
Promoting healthy oral hygiene habits in early childhood prevents oral conditions and diseases later in life.
Prevention should start in infancy as plaque can form on the surface of the gums. Always clean your infant’s gums, tongue and cheek after every meal. Use a damp, “warm” washcloth and gently swab the inside of the gums to remove any left-over food. This practice will also stimulate the gums.
Don’t give your baby a bottle filled with sugary milk or juice at naptime or anytime for that matter. This will only promote baby bottle syndrome – a form of tooth decay and severe childhood caries. Replace the juice with a healthier alternative such as water.
When a tooth starts to erupt through the gums, use an extra soft bristle toothbrush. A small amount of toothpaste can be used but it’s not necessary until 2 years of age. Begin to use a fluoride toothpaste and teach the child proper brushing techniques at least three times a day. This ritual will prevent the formation of dental plaque and many other oral dental diseases.
The American Dental Association recommends the first visit to the dentist should be approximately at 1 year of age. Often times dental problems can start early so the sooner the better. The dentist will suggest preventative care recommendations and suggest that you schedule visits in 6-month intervals.
Remember, children learn by example so make sure you’re setting one. Not only will they learn good oral hygiene but they’ll also learn self esteem that will last a lifetime.