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February is National Children's Dental Health Month

From left, Air Force Staff Sgt. Soohwa Ono, Senior Airman Vanessa Rivas and Capt. Daniel Chartrand promote pediatric oral hygiene at the Kelly Child Development Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma) From left, Air Force Staff Sgt. Soohwa Ono, Senior Airman Vanessa Rivas and Capt. Daniel Chartrand promote pediatric oral hygiene at the Kelly Child Development Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma)

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, TexasThis February marks the American Dental Association’s 36th annual National Children’s Dental Health Month. Dental professionals across the nation are coming together to promote oral health to our nation’s youth. Members of the dental community are also reaching out and educating teachers and parents on the importance of establishing good oral habits and hygiene. 

The ADA recommends all children receive their first dental exam by their first birthday. In addition to looking at your child’s teeth, the dentist will also evaluate their cheeks, gums and tongue among other structures.

Your child may have only a few teeth by his first birthday and that’s OK. The first visit gets children familiar and comfortable with a dental office while giving parents important information regarding their child’s teeth and oral hygiene.

Parents should start brushing their child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. By doing so, your child will become familiar with the toothbrush and more readily accept the routine. You can use a children’s toothbrush or a soft wet towel for infants. Some young children like holding their own toothbrush while their parents work inside with another.

By age 7, most children have developed the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth. However, that does not mean they will do a great job of brushing yet. Parents should supervise and help with the back teeth. Mom and dad are still in charge.

No matter who is doing the brushing, try to make it fun. Sing a song while you brush, or buy a toothbrush with your child’s favorite cartoon character on it. Some young ones enjoy timing themselves while they brush.

Children under the age of three will only need a small smear of toothpaste on their toothbrush. A pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for children over three. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day. This will help prevent dental plaque and tartar from growing on their teeth.

While fluoridated toothpaste is beneficial to oral health, if swallowed in large quantities it can be harmful to young children. Keep all toothpaste safely out of reach, especially if it tastes good.

While hygiene is important to the prevention of dental decay, so is your child’s diet. Snacking should be healthy. Replace refined sugar and simple carbohydrates with whole grains, fruits and cheeses.

Furthermore, never put babies to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. Frequent sipping on any sugary or non-water substance can quickly lead to cavities. This includes juices, sports drinks, sodas and teas. Water is always the best beverage choice.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.               

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