February is Children’s Dental Health Month, but really oral health care should be ongoing and part of your overall health plan for you and your kids. One important way is to make sure you and your family are on schedule for seeing a dentist every six months, that way your dentist can catch any issues right away before they become possibly painful problems!
Baby Teeth are Important
Baby, or Primary, teeth sometimes seem like they are just starter teeth and don’t need as much care. In reality, baby teeth have a very important job! Not only do they help your kids eat and chew, they are very important for speech development and help created and hold space for the permanent teeth. They can also affect self-esteem, if your kid’s teeth look and feel good, they are more apt to smile and have more confidence!
This chart shows when teeth will be showing up in your kid’s mouth and when you might start seeing some loose teeth (and prep for the tooth fairy!)
Keeping Smiles Healthy
Keeping your kid’s smile healthy takes building good habits as they grow. Start off when they are young to help keep their teeth healthy for life!
Brush twice a day for two minutes
- Easiest way to keep track of the time? Get a tooth brushing timer or find a song to play.
- For toddlers, make it fun! Get a fun toothbrush or flavored toothpaste. Use terms like brushing off the “sugar bugs.” And if you’re feeling brave, have them brush your teeth!
When your kids have two teeth touching, it’s time to start flossing. Try and get them in the habit when they are young.
Healthy diets help keep your teeth healthy. Limit the amount of sugar your kids are eating, especially when they are not going to brush their teeth soon after.
- Between meals, drink water. This helps rinse teeth and wash off the bacteria that causes cavities.
- Don’t send young kids to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.
- Avoid snacking and grazing between meals. It is normal for kids to eat three main meals and three snacks a day.
Ask your dentist about sealants for your kid’s teeth.
They coat the teeth and can protect against cavities. According to the CDC, Dental sealants prevent 80% of cavities in the back teeth, where 9 in 10 cavities occur.
For teens: some piercings can cause tooth issues or issues when visiting the dentist.
- Vaping also causes oral health issues. Besides staining teeth, it can cause tooth decay (which could lead to tooth loss), damage gum tissue and increase tooth sensitivity and cavities.
Parents – keep your teeth healthy too
Kids will often model the behavior of the adults in their lives. If you make oral health a priority and talk about its importance in overall health, your kids will do the same.
And also keep in mind that you and your kids can do everything right, and still end up with a cavity. Our bodies, and mouths, can be complicated. If your kids do end up with a cavity, that doesn’t make you a bad parent. Instilling good oral hygiene habits in your kids gives them the best chance for a healthy smile for years to come!