Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.
Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
According to the ADA:
When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come. The ADA recommends that parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday and then at intervals recommended by their dentist.
Preparing to Visit a Dentist
Tips from ADA to help alleviate concerns from kids or teens, include:
- Consider making a morning appointment when children tend to be rested and cooperative.
- Keep any anxiety or concerns you have to yourself. Children can pick up on your emotions, so emphasize the positive.
- Never use a dental visit as a punishment or threat.
- Never bribe your child.
- Talk with your child about visiting the dentist.
Fluoride or Not?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, including oceans, rivers and lakes. Fluoride is also added to some community tap water, toothpastes and mouth rinses.
Infants and toddlers who do not receive an adequate amount of fluoride may be at an increased risk for tooth decay since fluoride helps make tooth enamel more resistant to decay. It also helps repair weakened enamel. Bottled water may not contain fluoride; therefore, children who regularly drink bottled water or unfluoridated tap water may be missing the benefits of fluoride.
If you are not sure if your tap water has fluoride, contact your local or state health department or water supplier.
Consult your dentist to determine whether your child is getting adequate amounts of fluoride.
Teens and Pre-teens
It’s important for children of all ages to routinely visit a dentist for check-ups and regular tooth cleaning. The ADA also recommends:
- Always brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes
- Floss between your teeth daily
- Avoid sugary and starchy snacks
- Wear a mouthguard when you’re active
- Don’t smoke
- Don’t pierce your lips or any part of your mouth
- See your dentist. Regular dental visits will help set you up to be Mouth Healthy for Life.
Fun Activity For Kids