February is National Children's Dental Health Month, providing a great opportunity to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, adults, and caregivers. Attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining good oral health throughout life.
Bright Inspired Dentistry visits several local preschools and elementary classes each week during the month of February to discuss proper oral health. If you'd like us to visit your child's class, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to add you to our calendar!
At least two out of every five children will develop one or more cavities by the time they turn eleven. That statistic makes tooth decay the most common childhood disease. The good news is that parents can make a huge difference in their children’s dental health, and the first step is understanding the major culprits of childhood tooth decay.
Sugary Drinks in Sippy Cups and Bottles
Many of the drinks kids love are packed with sugar, and we’re not just talking about soda. Fruit juice, despite carrying the assumption of being healthier, contains nearly the same amount of sugar, and even milk is nowhere near sugar-free. The sugars in these drinks are a problem for oral health because harmful oral bacteria love to eat sugar as much as we do, increasing the risk of decay.
What makes sugary drinks even more dangerous is constant exposure. Drinking a cup of juice with a meal is one thing. Carrying a sippy cup or bottle of juice around for hours is another. So many children get tooth decay due to bottles and sippy cups that it actually has a name: bottle rot.
Don’t worry; we aren’t suggesting that parents should ban sugary drinks entirely. However, we do recommend cutting back and limiting them to mealtimes. For children who use a sippy cup or bottle to fall asleep, try filling it with water instead of something sweet.
Treats, Snacks, and Candy
Sugar in solid form is also a problem. Most of the popular snack foods our kids love are full of sugar too. It takes saliva about half an hour to neutralize leftover food particles and wash away sugary residue. Constant snacking interrupts this crucial cycle just as much as continuously sipping on juice does.
Again, we’re not saying you should ban sugary treats and snacks. Like with sugary drinks, these treats are best enjoyed at mealtimes instead of spread throughout the day. If your child relies on snacks between meals for energy, offer them healthier treats like sliced fruits and veggies rather than processed, high-sugar snack foods.
Tips for Parents
Parents play a major role in ensuring their children’s good oral health. The most important part is to teach kids good brushing and flossing habits and help them understand the power these habits have. Use encouragement and positive reinforcement to build good habits, try to make it fun, and help your child feel involved by letting them choose a toothbrush they like.
You can also be a good example of what proper brushing and flossing look like, and make sure to avoid bacteria-spreading practices like sharing spoons or cleaning a dropped pacifier with your mouth.
Your Best Ally: Your Child’s Dentist
Different factors (like genetics) leave some children more susceptible to tooth decay than others, so a cavity may appear even if you’re doing everything right. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with your child’s regular dental cleanings and exams. We can catch problems early and recommend solutions to keep your child’s smile healthy and bright!
Keep encouraging your kids in their great dental health habits! Here are some fun activities you can do with your kids to get them involved.
Teach Egg-ceptional Smile Habits | Dental Health Activities for Kids
What you’ll need:
Empty egg carton
Toothbrush (not to be reused)
What it teaches:
This hands-on activity for the kiddos teaches them about plaque hiding places and the importance of brushing well!
Start by “brushing the teeth” using the white paint, toothbrush, and egg carton.
Once the paint is dry, it’s time to floss! Work with your tot to place “plaque” (moldable dough) in between each egg carton crack. Then use the floss to remove the dough from each tooth.
Weekly Brushing + Flossing Chart| Dental Health Activities for Kids
What you’ll need:
Access to a printer to print out this chart.
Markers or colored pencils
Establishing good dental health habits early on promotes a lifetime of healthy teeth. Just like adults, kids should be brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. To keep track, place this chart in the bathroom. Teach them to track their daily dental dose with our brushing and flossing chart.
Let your child color in each circle after brushing or flossing. Stickers are a fun alternative for marking, too!
Bright Inspired Dentistry
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.