February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, an annual observance during which dental and medical professionals, educators, and parents focus efforts to improve the oral health of all children.
Tooth decay in children is a fast-growing problem in the United States posing serious health risks. It is the most chronic disease affecting American children. A child’s overall health is closely linked to his or her oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a jump start in maintaining a lifetime of good oral health.
Here are a few tips to help your child develop the best oral health habits:
- Teach your children how to check the cleanliness of their own teeth.
Teach your children to check how well they are brushing by running their tongue over their teeth. If the teeth feel nice and smooth, it’s a job well done!
- Avoid transferring your own oral bacteria to your children.
Children are not born with decay-producing bacteria; it’s transferred from parents and caregivers. That’s why sharing a baby’s spoon, kissing a baby on the lips or licking pacifier to clean it is never a good idea.
- Set an example of healthy eating habits for your children.
What your child eats during infancy through early adulthood will have a profound impact on their health in later life, so start healthy eating behaviors and habits early.
- If you allow your children to have sugary treats, make sure they are consumed only at mealtimes, not between.
Not many kids can resist sugar all the time, but it does less damage if consumed at mealtimes. When your child needs to refuel before the next meal, fresh fruits, vegies, nuts, cheese, milk or water are better choices than a candy bar.