With the end of the school year and the start of summer very close, I thought it would be a good time to discuss children’s oral health. We have to remember to care for our kiddos’ teeth between the pool, beach, video games, and playtime this summer.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children (more than diabetes, cancer, etc) and children with cavities in baby teeth are far more likely to have cavities in their permanent teeth as well. Here are some pointers to help lead to a lifetime of good oral health for your children:
1. Prevent Decay
*Limit sugary drinks (this includes soft drinks, juice boxes, and ALL fruit juice)
*Limit all drinks at bedtime except water
*Limit all sugary and starchy foods (carbohydrates) that stick to your child’s teeth within 1 hour of bedtime. This includes milk, bread, and even lettuce- “It doesn’t have to be sweet to rot your teeth!”
2. Promote Good Oral Health at Home
*A good rule of thumb for children is to Brush 2 minutes 2 times a day.
*Use a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste (once your child can spit) or a clean cloth/brush in younger babies.
*Floss when 2 baby teeth touch each other.
*Don’t allow excess pacifier or thumb sucking (can cause future misalignment of teeth).
*Drink fluoridated tap water.
*Encourage your child to brush and floss themselves, but closely monitor and brush them again if needed. Studies have shown that if a child is unable to write well in cursive then they don’t have the dexterity to brush their own teeth properly. Since they don’t teach cursive writing anymore, we will say to help brush until age 9.
*Lead by Example-Children need to see their parents brushing and flossing their teeth, as well as going for dental visits.
3. Protect Your Teeth
*Wear helmets for bikes and skateboards and mouthguards for any contact sports.
4. Regular preventative dental visits
*This is the healthiest, least expensive way to keep a happy, healthy mouth.
*Your child should have their first dental visit between age 1 and 3 and then regularly see the dentist every 6 months.
This is my favorite quote to tell children. I love their reaction after they realize what I am actually saying!
What are your summer plans with the kiddos? (Besides brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist)