The American Dental Association (ADA) designates every February as Children’s Dental Health Month. The observance helps to promote children’s oral health for caregivers, teachers, and others who work with kids.
This year’s theme is “Water: Nature’s Drink.” The theme highlights the importance of drinking water over sugary beverages to keep teeth healthy. On their MouthHealthy.org website, the ADA explains that water, particularly water with fluoride, can strengthen teeth and help to prevent tooth decay. In addition, water is a low-calorie drink that keeps your mouth clean and fights dry mouth. The necessity of this year’s theme is evidenced by a study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics, in which 20% of 8,400 children observed reported not drinking any water. Those children typically consumed almost twice as many calories and more sugary beverages like soda and fruit drinks.
Promoting Oral Health in Children
In addition to drinking water, MouthHealthy.org provides a number of tips for helping to foster healthy teeth and gums from a young age. These include:
- Keeping an infant’s mouth clean before teeth erupt by wiping his or her gums with a soft, clean washcloth or gauze pad.
- Brushing newly erupted teeth twice a day with a rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Increasing to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste after age three.
- Visiting the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts, and no later than age one.
- Avoiding dipping pacifiers in honey or sugar, or putting them in your mouth to clean them.
The ADA provides several resources in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month, including crossword puzzles, coloring pages and other activities. A printable reference guide is also available with 5 tips for avoiding tooth decay.
The Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, provides a number of resources for oral health. These include healthy recipes, oral hygiene tips, and books about oral health.
If you’d like to discuss your child’s oral health or are ready to make an appointment, contact us today. We’d love to see your child’s smile!