What does February mean to you? More winter? Roses and chocolates?
For a pediatric dentist in Mount Pleasant, it means that it’s National Children’s Dental Health Month! It’s a perfect opportunity to promote oral health care, and I love getting parents and kids as excited about dental care as I am!
Good health begins at birth. The American Dental Association encourages parents to schedule their child’s first dental visit by their first birthday, or when their first tooth comes in. It’s a chance to introduce children to good oral hygiene right from the beginning and stresses the importance of establishing dental care.
New parents often overlook the fact that teeth can be subject to tooth decay from the moment they show up! We have seen tooth decay present in infants as young as six months old!
Tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease in children today. The most recent data shows that just last year, 55% of young children experienced tooth decay. That’s an alarming number that helps emphasize the point – tooth decay is a big problem for little teeth.
More alarming numbers:
- About 23% of young children have untreated cavities.
- Multiple-tooth extractions, which require general anesthesia, have gone up by more than 20% in the last four years.
- About 21% of children already have cavities in their permanent teeth.
Whoa! That’s why we have National Children’s Dental Health Month, educating families on how they can prevent tooth decay. The important part of this message is that even though it’s the most common infectious disease in American kids, tooth decay is almost entirely preventable.
“Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile.”
The slogan for this year’s campaign is, “Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile”.
Children are reliant on the adults in their lives to help them learn how to take care of their bodies, oral health included. Let’s help them establish healthy habits now and prevent problems down the road.
Beware of Sugar
Our mouths contain bacteria, and when combined with a little sugar and some time, tooth decay can be the result. Modern children consume disturbing amounts of sugar, which is not only bad for their teeth, but also bad for their developing minds and bodies.
It’s estimated the average child consumes an average of 12 teaspoons of added sugar every day, and older kids (teenagers) as much as 34 teaspoons. Much of this comes from sugar-laden drinks. From a dental perspective, frequency and time are the biggest culprits.
Reduce sugar intake, and attempt to stick to water between meals for a healthy mouth. Brushing teeth after they’ve been exposed to lots of sugar will go a long way in protecting teeth and preventing decay.
Brush Every Day to Prevent Tooth Decay
I encourage families to brush their teeth together when they can. Children often lack discipline in their routine, meaning they might not do a good job every time. Even many adults have trouble with this, do make sure your kids do it right by serving as a positive example and doing it with them.
If you have questions about how to prevent or deal with cavities in your family, we are here to help! We also have a great printable infographic to help keep healthy teeth:
And don’t forget to schedule your child’s next cleaning before the craziness of Spring Break and activities are here!