February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, an annual event sponsored by the American Dental Association. The purpose is to educate the public about the importance of children’s dental health.
This year’s theme is “Join the Super Smile Team!” with the program encouraging youth to floss and brush by introducing them to a group of best friends who work hard to take care of their smiles. Runion Dental Clinic will have numerous volunteers visiting schools on Fort Huachuca to give classes in oral hygiene and educate children on dental disease.
Parents of children who have not reached school age should remember that young ones rely on adults for their dental care. Once teeth emerge, it’s time for adults to start helping children to brush. Assistance with the child’s brushing should continue until he or she is able to brush alone, which is usually between the age of 6 and 8.
It is also important for parents or caregivers to not place infants in bed with fruit juice, milk or formula as all of these contain sugar. The prolonged exposure of baby’s teeth to these liquids will encourage decay and lead to unsightly baby bottle or nursing mouth syndrome. The American Dental Association advises that it is beneficial for the first dental visit to occur within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, and no later than the child’s first birthday.
The key is for children to develop good habits at an early age to help them get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Encourage children to brush daily. Parents or guardians should also schedule regular dental checkups for them.