February: Children’s Dental Health Month
At some point, most parents will experience having to say one of these common phrases to their children: “Don’t eat that; it’ll rot your teeth” or “You better eat that because it’s good for you.”
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children today despite the fact it’s almost entirely preventable. Parents want what’s best for their children and helping them learn to prevent tooth decay is a good way to show it.
Luke Air Force Base Dental Clinic staff members and organizations worldwide have recognized February as Children’s Dental Health Month. National Children’s Dental Health Month is celebrated during this time to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at a young age, along with regular dental visits, will help children to have a lifetime of good oral hygiene.
More than 40 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth, and more than two-thirds of youth ages16 to 19 have had a cavity in their permanent teeth. Although overall rates of tooth decay have decreased over the past four decades, decay has actually increased in preschool age children in recent years according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The good news is there are safe and effective preventive measures that can protect teeth. Performing good oral hygiene such as thorough brushing with fluoride toothpaste can help keep children from getting cavities. In addition, dental sealants and community water fluoridation are two other strategies that can help prevent tooth decay.
How do you reduce children’s risk of tooth decay? Sugary foods and drinks should be consumed with meals because saliva production increases during meals. This helps neutralize acid production and will rinse food particles from the mouth. Limit snacks between meals. If your child craves a snack, offer nutritious foods like celery or apples. If you allow your children to chew gum, switch to a sugarless brand. Monitor their beverage consumption. Instead of soft drinks, allow children to choose between water and low-fat milk. To help children develop good brushing and flossing habits schedule regular dental visits.
Following these steps throughout the year will help prevent tooth decay and develop successful dental habits that will be used through the child’s lifetime. Get involved and help educate children and others to improve good oral hygiene.