February is Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month
Caring for Children’s Teeth Between Ages 6 and 18
You can help your children literally make their permanent teeth permanent. Just teach your kids to take great care of their teeth at a young age for a healthy smile that can last a lifetime.
While oral health care is important from birth, it’s especially critical starting at age 6 when permanent teeth begin to come in. Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases for kids and it’s usually preventable. Cavities and gum disease occur even more frequently as children reach adolescence with 54% of kids ages 12 to 19 having had or currently having, cavities.
On average, children with good oral health perform better academically and miss fewer days of school than children with poor oral health. Here’s how you can help children develop and maintain a healthy smile:
- Encourage daily oral health care: To help prevent cavities and gum disease, it’s necessary to remove food and plaque that may linger in the mouth. Teach your children to brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time and floss daily to clean areas a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Take them to visit the dentist regularly: Like adults, children should see a dentist at least once a year for a checkup and cleaning. Professional cleanings remove stains and tartar that brushing and flossing alone won’t eliminate.
- Serve healthy foods: Sugars and starches cause bacteria to produce acid that eats away at a tooth’s surface which often leads to cavities.
- Keep them hydrated: Water is an excellent alternative to sugary sports drinks, juices and soda. It helps clean the mouth, while preventing cavity-causing dry mouth.
- Purchase a mouth guard (if playing contact sports): Help protect them against mouth injuries by purchasing a mouth guard at a sporting goods store or having one custom-made by your dentist.
- Talk to them about tobacco use: Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of smokers try their first cigarette by age 18, it’s a good idea to start warning your children about the dangers of tobacco as early as age 5 and keep the conversation going throughout childhood.
That’s why it’s vital to learn and practice great oral health habits early. Dental insurance makes care more affordable and usually fully covers preventive measures like checkups, cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants for children.
To access the full article on caring for your children’s teeth, click here.
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