by Lauren Strait
February is National Children’s Dental Month. For our family, it marks the first month of our semi-annual visit to the dentist to ensure our teeth are healthy and happy! Yes, I said happy! My twins were born in February, which means we are notorious for gobbling up extra sweet treats. Plus you can’t forget about all the deliciousness that comes with Valentine’s Day. So we make sure that we see the Dentist during this month, and then again in August, right before school starts. Here are some tips to ensure we smile with pride and without tooth decay.
- No bottles in bed. You can start healthy habits early by making sure that bottles don’t end up in your baby or toddler’s bed. If a bottle is what will help with your own sanity to keep your child asleep, feed them before bedtime or substitute water instead of milk or juice.
- Brush early and often. Many misconceptions about oral health is starting after all the baby teeth come in. WRONG! There are now toothbrushes available for babies and toddlers. Starting early and often starts repetitive habits that come naturally when children get old enough to brush their own teeth. Toddlers can start brushing with a toothbrush and water (with your help) once they have a few teeth. They can add fluoride toothpaste twice daily starting at age 2. Supervise your child’s brushing until at least age 7 to ensure they are cleaning all surfaces.
- Limit the sugar intake. Dr. Scott Wexler of North Scottsdale Pediatric Dentistry said that sugary drinks are the number one cause of tooth decay in kiddos. Things you can do is limit how many drinks kids can have it one day, diluting the drink with water or even get the kids involved in making homemade drinks with fresh fruit like berries or pineapple.
- Rethink gummies and chewy food. Gummy candy, vitamins and even dried fruits that stick to teeth for longer periods of time lead to tooth decay and cavities. Fresh fruit is a better option, but also things like chocolate, ice cream or frozen yogurt are less sticky than gummies.
- Visit the dentist when your child gets their first tooth. I highly recommend going to a pediatric dental office. They have specially trained staff and dentists there to work with kids. Dentists can observe areas that aren’t getting brushed thoroughly (a common problem with children) or may see weak spots that need extra attention to prevent a cavity. In addition, your child’s dentist can do fluoride treatments and molar fillings that can prevent major dental work in the future.