Did you know that tooth decay and other oral health diseases are mostly preventable? Still, 42% of children in the U.S. between 2 and 11 years old have had dental caries (tooth decay) in their primary teeth (1). With February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, we have gathered dental tips to teach kids and resources from the American Dental Association to share!
1. Be an Example
Any time we want to teach good behavior to our kids, we start by setting the example. Kids are always copying what adults do, so use that to your advantage! Invite the kids to brush their teeth when you are going to brush yours, show them how you floss, and you can even tell them about your dental appointments. When they see that it is part of your daily routine, they will understand better why it is a part of theirs.
2. Brush Twice a Day
Brushing might be the single most important thing you’ll do to prevent tooth decay. And you can start cleaning your kid’s teeth as soon as the first one comes out! It’s recommended to use a soft cloth for wiping or small soft toothbrush with water until they are 2 years old. Then you can begin brushing with a tiny amount of fluoridated toothpaste (make sure they spit out the toothpaste).
3. Go to the Dentist Every 6 Months
In Utah, untreated tooth decay was found in 19% of children between 6 and 9 years old (2). A lot of times tooth decay is not visible or obvious, that’s why going to the dentist regularly is so important. Your child’s first dentist visit should happen within 6 months of their first tooth and then every six months after that.
4. Develop Good Dietary Habits
For healthy teeth, it’s best to skip the sugary drinks and treats. Soda and fruit juice contain a lot of sugar, which directly contributes to tooth decay. Instead, opt for water and healthier snacks such as raw vegetables, high-fiber fruits and cheese. Remember to be a good example on this aspect as well!
5. Don’t Share Germs
Bacteria can easily be transmitted through saliva so avoid sharing utensils and cups, and cleaning pacifiers with your mouth instead of using water. These germs can start the process that causes cavities even before babies have teeth! (3)
Here at Root for Kids, we are grateful to partner up twice a year with dentists, dental hygienists, faculty and students from the Dixie State University Dental Hygiene program to provide a free dental clinic for our clients. Click here to donate and support more initiatives like this.
(1) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
(2) Utah Department of Health
(3) American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry