Oral health is an essential part of our wellbeing. This month, May, is National Dental Care month. Oral health care is important at every age, even before babies get their first tooth. At Young Family Dental, our pediatric dentists provide care for infants and young children to maintain optimal oral health. Children’s dental health includes preventive care and instruction on building healthy habits that will set them up for good oral hygiene for the rest of their lives. Here is what you can do at home to set your children up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
National Dental Care Month
During the month of May, National Dental Care Month sets to remind us just how important caring for the smile we have is. Today, oral hygiene is learned at a young age. Children learn how to brush their teeth, floss, but beyond that and as we get older, it is common for people to forget all we have learned in regards to the importance of dental hygiene. Read on to learn what you as a parent or caregiver can do to remind the children in your life just how important their smiles are.
Children’s Dental Health
Keeping your child’s teeth healthy and teaching them from an early age how to care for their smiles is an important part of their wellness. Untreated cavities in children can lead to pain, infections, and problems with how they eat, speak, and even learn. The CDC explains that more than 1 in 5 children from 2 to 5 years old has at least one cavity in their baby teeth. In the United States, tooth decay is one of the most common diseases in children today. When children have tooth decay that isn’t treated, it can cause long-term health consequences. The statistics of childhood dental decay are worrisome, however, cavities and decay in children can be prevented. To protect these baby teeth, the CDC recommends following the simple steps of P-E-A-R-L-S:
P – Protect tiny teeth by caring for your own mouth while you’re pregnant. Your child’s future oral healthcare starts in the womb.
E – Ensure to wipe your baby’s gums each time they eat — yes, before there are any teeth in their mouth.
A – Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle. Going to bed with a bottle can put your baby at risk for baby bottle tooth decay.
R – Remember to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If your child is younger than 2 years old, consult with your dentist before using fluoride toothpaste.
L – Limit added sugars in drinks and foods. Encourage your child to eat more fruits and vegetables and only enjoy fruit drinks, sodas, cookies, and candy in moderation.
S – Schedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday or after their first tooth appears (whichever comes first!)
Teaching Your Child Good Dental Health Habits
The health of your child’s smile begins with you as their caregiver. Once your child is old enough to begin learning how to do things on their own, begin to teach them the importance of healthy dental habits and how they can achieve a clean smile. We recommend:
- Encouraging your child to brush their teeth for two minutes. To do this, play their favorite song that is about two minutes in length and have them dance around while they’re brushing their teeth. However, be sure that they are focusing on cleaning their teeth. Until they’re older, you should supervise their teeth brushing to make sure their smiles are getting clean.
- Helping your child floss. For this, teach them by showing them. Show them how you floss your own teeth, then help them floss their own. They will want to try it by themselves, but be there to help guide them if they need it so they don’t miss a tooth.
- Teaching them what makes a healthy meal. Allow your child to help you prepare snacks and meals in the kitchen. Explain to them why certain foods might not be good for our smile. Alternatively, teach them why foods like dairy, greens, and more are great for their teeth.
- Giving a reward. This doesn’t have to be anything big, but try giving your child a sticker they want each time they complete brushing and flossing. Once they get a certain amount of stickers, reward them with a prize.
- Taking them to the dentist regularly beginning at an early age. This will help prevent your child from developing a fear of the dentist.
Children’s Dental Health at Young Family Dental
Your child should have a pleasant first trip to the dentist. At Young Family Dental, we will make sure that your child is comfortable with us while we take a look at their teeth, gums, and bite. After your first visit with us, we will talk with you about how you can further help your child’s dental health and recommend how often your child should come back. These early visits are simple and don’t include a lot of work, but they are essential in making sure your child is comfortable with going to the dentist as they get older. With five convenient locations in Orem, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Riverton, and West Jordan, our team is here for your family.