AUTHOR: Becky Danielson, M.Ed. is a licensed Parent & Family Educator on staff at The Berry Patch and Whittier Wildflowers Preschool. She contributes monthly to the Family Buzz, highlighting a topic or current trend in parenting.
Dear Whittier Wildflowers Preschool Families,
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Tooth decay is the most prevalent dental health problem for preschools. Cavities in baby teeth can affect permanent teeth, so it’s best to get a good start with caring for those cute smiles when children are young.
Keeping up on good dental hygiene is important for a number of reasons. The mouth is the first stop in the digestive system. Strong teeth allow for foods to be chewed into digestible pieces. The saliva mixes in and then it’s down to the tummy. When teeth are kept plague free, decay is less likely to occur. Plaque, a sticky, bacteria-filled substance, causes cavities. A bright, shiny smile is the goal!
11 Tips to Help Your Child Develop Good Dental Health Habits
• Use a soft bristled toothbrush. Brush teeth at least two times a day, morning and before bed. Supervise and help your child.
• Use fluoride toothpaste for children over two-years of age with no more than a grain of rice sized amount of paste pressed into the bristles of the brush. (Press it in so the paste isn’t rinsed down the drain.) Encourage children not to swallow the toothpaste.
• Model for your child how to use dental floss.
• Limit sugar consumption. Check labels, as there’s more sugar in our foods than we often realize.
• Water and white milk are the best drink options for children. Juice, sports drinks, lemonade, and pop contain sugar and acid that can harm tooth enamel.
• Raisins, Craisins, gummies, and other sticky treats easily catch between teeth and should be kept to a minimum.
• Have “tooth brush foods” available for snack time: raw carrots, celery, apples, and other healthy snacks with a crunch.
• Get in the habit of a quick “swish and swallow” after meals with water to rinse the mouth after meals and snacks.
• Don’t share eating utensils, cups, or plates. Germs are easily passed along.
• Schedule a check-up with the dentist at 12-18 months and every six months following for a cleaning and exam. Discuss the options with your child’s pediatrician and dentist.
• Let the child choose a fun toothbrush. Having a princess or a super hero help with the brushing is much more exciting.