February is Children’s Dental Health Month, and we’re excited to kick things off with some tips on keeping your family’s smiles healthy.
Creating good dental habits for your children should start as soon as they wake up. Before breakfast, you should brush your teeth with your kiddos. When children are learning good habits, modeling behavior can be beneficial. Let them watch you, and then work with them on their skills. Start with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. If your child can spit their toothpaste in the sink, use a pea sized amount of toothpaste. If you find they’re swallowing their toothpaste, use a very small amount that is about the size of a grain of rice.
Flossing is important because it removes plaque and food that is between teeth. Brushing can only go so far, and flossing does the rest of the job. It’s not only good for your mouth, but helps prevent bad breath, which makes morning cuddles with your kiddos much more enjoyable. Even if your kids’ teeth aren’t touching, you can still work on forming the habit from a young age. Because gums are sensitive, parents should be in charge of flossing until age 6 or 7 when kids have better control over fine motor skills.
Get your kiddos into the dental chair twice a year. Seeing a dentist every 6 months is important for routine prevention. During routine appointments, teeth are cleaned, fluoride varnish can be applied, x-rays can taken if needed and examination can detect decay early or other dental problems. To protect your children’s molars, we may recommend an application of sealants when they come in; usually around 6 years old and 12 years old. The molar teeth are most susceptible to cavities for two reasons. First, their chewing surface has more pits and fissures than the rest of the teeth. This can make it more difficult for toothbrush bristles to clean the chewing surface. Second, the majority of chewing is done with your molars, increasing the chances of food and bacteria getting stuck and causing decay. A report published in July, 2017 by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group that studies and analyzes health information, found that the prevalence of cavities was reduced by 51% in children whose teeth were treated with sealants.
Be sure to include colorful fruit and vegetables in your family meals. Healthy teeth and gums come not only from brushing, flossing, and visiting Southwest Nebraska Dental Center in McCook, but from the inside! What you put on your family’s dinner table has a big impact on their dental health. The vitamins and minerals in healthy foods help strengthen enamel, and keep inflammation in check with their antioxidants. On the other hand, sugar, and food that is known to cause decay, will weaken enamel and cause cavities. When your family is indulging in candy, chocolate is always preferable to gummy, sticky candies which are difficult to get out of the grooves of teeth.