Children's Dental Health Month
February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Good habits and regular dental visits make a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
Visit the Dentist
Begin with a visit to the dentist within six months of your child getting a first tooth, and no later than the child's first birthday. Dental visits are needed for cleaning and sometimes fluoride treatments. Routine exams also uncover damage that can be easily treated when caught early (ADA).
Teach Children to Brush
- Brush every day on all sides with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste (moving the brush in small circles and short back-and-forth strokes).
- Brush carefully and gently along the gum line and lightly brush the tongue.
- Clean around the teeth with dental floss to keep gums healthy. Rinse after you floss.
- Remind small children to not to swallow toothpaste. If a child can't or will not spit out the toothpaste, then use tooth paste without fluoride until the child learns to spit.
Drink Water That Has Had Fluoride Added
This is done by the water department in about half the cities and towns of the United States, including Columbus. If your water is not fluoridated or if your child' teeth need more fluoride to stay healthy, your dentist can prescribe it or apply it in the dentist's office.
Get Dental Sealants When Possible
Sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Sealants are put on in dentists' offices, clinics, and sometimes in schools. By covering the chewing surfaces of the molars, sealants keep out the germs and food that cause decay.
- Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as the teeth come in.
- The first permanent molars (6 year molars) come in between the ages of 5 and 7.
- The second permanent molars (12 year molars) come in when a child is between 11 and 14 years old.
- Other teeth with pits and grooves also may need to be sealed.
- Teenagers and young adults without decay or fillings in their molars also may get sealants.
For more information about sealants call your dentist, local dental society, or health department.
For More Information
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and ADA