National Children’s Dental Health Month was created by the American Dental Association (ADA) to help promote the benefits of great oral health for children. This month-long national health observance encourages parents, teachers, and caregivers to help children maintain a healthy smile by having great oral care habits.
Helping your child maintain healthy teeth and gums takes hard work and diligence, especially when they are still very young and unable to brush on their own. These are our favorite tips and tricks for preventing tooth decay in children of all ages.
Celebrating Healthy Teeth and Gums
It may not always seem like it, but cavities are preventable, even while a child undergoes orthodontic treatment. Left untreated, minor tooth decay can lead to significant health issues like constant pain, discomfort, and infections. If left untreated, dental cavities can lead to difficulties with your child’s development, including eating, speaking, and learning.
According to the CDC:
- Roughly 1 in 5 of children ages 5 to 11 years old have at least one untreated cavity.
- 1 in 7 adolescents ages 12 to 19 has at least one untreated cavity.
- Children ages 5 to 19 from low-income families are twice as likely (25%) to have cavities than those from higher-income households.
Useful Tips and Tricks For Keeping Teeth Healthy
As parents, there are a few valuable tips and tricks to be used when it comes to making sure every person in your family has a healthy, cavity-free smile. One of the best and easiest ways to help restore tooth enamel and prevent cavities is by ensuring your children get enough fluoride. Fluoride is accessible and safe in many forms, and we recommend these easy ways to incorporate fluoride.
Use Fluoride Toothpaste
For children younger than 6, oversee them and teach them the proper use of toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste should never be ingested, so help to teach your kids that toothpaste is made to spit out rather than swallowed.
For children under the age of 2, it’s not recommended to use toothpaste with fluoride as an ingredient, as children at this age do not fully understand that toothpaste is not to be swallowed.
Drink Unfiltered Water From the Tap
Tap water contains a safe amount of fluoride meant to help strengthen teeth while staying hydrated. Encouraging your little ones to drink water helps to keep them healthy and hydrated.
Incorporate Fluoride Supplements
If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist, family doctor, or pediatrician if your child could benefit from the use of oral fluoride supplements, which are available in many different forms, including drops, tablets, or lozenges.
Ask Your Dentist About Fluoride Sealants
Talk to your dentist about dental sealants that can help to prevent cavities on the biting surfaces of your child’s back teeth during childhood. The use of sealants helps to prevent 80% of cavities in children.
Encourage Better Brushing and Flossing
- Pediatric dentists recommend parents follow the “tell, show, do” model when teaching their kids the proper way to brush their teeth.
- Tell – Explain to your child how to brush and floss and how these actions help keep their teeth healthy.
- Show – Brush and floss your teeth alongside your child so they can watch and learn from you.
- Do – Help your kids brush and floss their teeth in the morning and before bed. Keeping a routine will help instill proper oral hygiene routines.
Please continue to help your child brush their teeth until age 5, and after that, let them do it themselves, but supervised until the age of 8.
Make Healthy Food Choices Fun
Getting your kids to eat a healthy, balanced diet is no simple task. What your children eat and drink has a significant impact on their overall health – including oral health. When it comes to kids, presentation is everything, so make trying new foods fun.
Great kid-friendly snack options include:
- Raw, crunchy vegetables like carrot sticks or celery and peanut butter
- Fresh fruits like slices of strawberries or an apple and peanut butter
- Yogurt with fresh berries
- Cheese cut into fun shapes or shredded to encourage creativity
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Smoothies that taste sweet but pack a big health punch
Always practice good oral hygiene habits at home with your kids, and don’t forget to schedule professional cleanings twice a year to help prevent tooth decay and other dental issues from the start. Prioritize children’s dental health all year long by ensuring their teeth are healthy, cavity-free, and aligned! Schedule a consultation with Thomas Orthodontics to learn how straightening your child’s smile can prevent cavities for life.