It’s February and you know what that means…National Children’s Dental Health Month! This month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.
Did you know that cavities (also known as tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood? Untreated cavities can cause pain, infections, and can lead to problems eating, speaking, and learning. In the United States, about 1 in 5 children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth. In children 12 to 19 years old, it is closer to 1 in 7.
From the data above, we know that cavities are quite common in youngsters. The good news though is that cavities are preventable! If you’re a parent or caregiver, read on for some easy ways to prevent your child from developing cavities.
When thinking about your child’s dental health, think about the P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom:
PROTECT tiny teeth. Hey moms—did you know that your child’s future oral health starts with you? A mother’s oral health status is a strong predictor of her children’s oral health status. Oral health during pregnancy and infancy is especially important to set little ones up for a lifetime of good health. Experts recommend regular dental checkups before and during pregnancy.
ENSURE to wipe your baby’s gums after each meal. Even before those first little teeth appear, proper oral hygiene is a must! Cleaning decay-causing bacteria from your baby’s mouth on a regular basis can act as a safeguard to help protect teeth that have not yet erupted.
AVOID putting babies to bed with a bottle. Tooth decay can occur when a baby is put to bed with a bottle. Infants should finish their naptime or bedtime bottle before going to bed.
REMEMBER to brush your child’s teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. For children younger than 2 years, consult with your dentist or doctor about when to start using fluoride toothpaste.
LIMIT drinks and food with added sugars for children. Encourage your child to eat more fruits and vegetables and have fewer fruit drinks, cookies, and candies. This gives your child the best possible start to good oral health.
SCHEDULE your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday or after their first tooth appears. Their tiny teeth matter! Check out one of our past blog posts for more information about why baby teeth matter.
For more tips on preventing cavities and promoting oral health, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html.
Looking for resources?
Families with children ages five and younger can call Skagit County’s ABCD program at (360) 416-1500 for help finding dental care for their children. For families who quality, some benefits of the program include:
- An initial dental exam
- Two dental exams per year (6 months apart)
- Three fluoride varnish applications per year
- Two parent education sessions per child per year
- Fillings and other dental work (as needed)
For more information about the ABCD program, visit our webpage at: https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/HealthFamily/dental.htm.