Grand County should celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month
February 20, 2008
National Children’s Dental Health Month is sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA) to raise awareness about the importance of good dental hygiene.
It is vital that students adopt good habits at a young age to ensure a lifetime of excellent oral health.
In the United States, an estimated 51 million school hours per year are lost because of dental-related illness. Early tooth loss caused by tooth decay can result in failure to thrive, problems with speech development, absence from school, inability to concentrate in school, poor social relationships and reduced self-esteem.
The most common infection in the U.S. is cavities or tooth decay. Poor oral health can begin as a baby; following are ways to decrease decay in infants and toddlers:
– Use a bottle to feed your baby at regular feeding times, but allowing the bottle to be used as a pacifier can be a major cause of cavities.
– If a bottle is used at night in the crib, use water only. Even the lactose (a sugar in milk and breast milk) can cause decay.
– Avoid letting your toddler walk around with a bottle or sippy cup full of juice. Switch to water.
– Do not put the baby’s pacifier in your mouth as bacteria can be passed from mom or dad, causing cavities.
You can take these steps to a bright smile for your child:
– Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after eating breakfast and before bedtime.
– Teach your children to floss correctly every day.
– Serve healthy snacks like fresh fruits, vegetables and cheese. Cheese is an excellent snack because it discourages bacterial growth in the mouth.
– Treats like candy should be used as a “sometime food.” Avoid sticky sweets that stick to your teeth. (“Sometime Food” ” food or drinks that are treats; they add no healthy value to a person’s diet except useless calories; therefore should only be given “sometimes,” as in 0-2 times per week.)
– Avoid sugary drinks like pop, sweetened fruit juices and Gatorade ” they are also “sometime food.” (Gatorade was developed for adult athletes to drink quickly after sweating profusely. Children should not drink Gatorade except half strength when they have severe vomiting and diarrhea.)
– Visit your dentist and dental hygienist regularly when your child starts getting teeth and no later than the first birthday. Think of it as your “well baby teeth check-up.”
– Ask your dentist or dental hygienist about dental sealants, a protective plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
As a parent, you can work with your children to help them understand why good oral care is important and show them how to do it right. You can be a role model to help your child develop good brushing and flossing habits.
If you need more information about oral health call your dentist, dental hygienist or Grand County Public Health and Nursing Service at 970-725-3288.
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