Now Is The Time To Think About Your Children's Dental Health

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long observance is sponsored every year by the American Dental Association (ADA) to help raise awareness about the importance of oral health for kids.

As a parent, you play a vital role in helping your children establish good oral health practices — and smiles — to last a lifetime. At Grove Dental Associates, we partner with parents to teach kids proper dental habits that set them up for a successful dental future. Here are some common kids’ oral health problems and suggestions on how to avoid them.

Pediatric Dental Problems

Like adults, children are faced with various oral health challenges as they grow. When oral health is compromised, it can negatively impact a child’s growth, speech and social development — and may even lead to school absences. Some of the most common pediatric dental problems include:

  • Tooth decay — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions in the United States.. Eating a lot of sugars (including starchy foods), not brushing teeth properly and putting a baby to sleep with a bottle of milk can all lead to tooth decay in children. The good news is that cavities are preventable with good oral health habits at home and regular visits to the dentist.
  • Thumbsucking —Sucking on a thumb or pacifier is a natural and normal reflex for babies and small children. However, sucking can cause problems with the alignment of the teeth and jaws when permanent teeth begin to appear. Talk to your child’s doctor for advice on breaking the habit, and in the meantime, offer positive reinforcement when habits stop. Premature tooth loss — Children's baby teeth serve an important function as placeholders for adult teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early due to decay or injury, it can cause serious crowding issues for the developing permanent teeth, as well as negatively affect surrounding jaw bone development. To prevent early tooth loss, encourage healthy oral hygiene habits from a young age and make sure your child wears a mouth guard for contact sports.

Brush Up on Oral Health

The good news is many common pediatric dental problems can be prevented. Parents can help their children maintain healthy teeth and gums by encouraging the following habits:

  • Teach kids to brush for two minutes, two times each day to remove food and bacteria that cause decay.
  • Limit sugary drinks and starchy snacks that promote decay. Give your child healthy snacks instead of sugar-laden sweets when possible, and encourage healthy eating habits at home and when on the go, grab a bottle of water to keep hydrated.
  • Make brushing fun. Encourage kids to pick out their toothbrushes, incorporate music into your children’s routines and brush together to model good technique.
  • Protect and strengthen your child’s enamel by using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Don’t forget to floss. Help kids clean between teeth and along the gum line to prevent gingivitis.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with a dentist. The best dentist is one who understands the unique development of children’s teeth and specializes in dentistry for kids.

This February remember to focus on your children’s dental health. If you’re not sure where to start, contact Grove Dental Associates today to schedule your child’s next visit.