The month of February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Take some time to remind your children of the importance of brushing and flossing not once but at least twice per day. A good rule of thumb is to brush and floss once in the morning and again before bedtime.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- about 20% or 1 in every 5 children, aged 5-11, have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
- about 13% or 1 in every 7 adolescent aged kids ages 12-19 have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
The key thing to remember is cavities are preventable. The CDC reports that fluoride can prevent approximately ⅓ or 33% of all cavities that occur in baby teeth. Using fluoride toothpaste or living in an area where your tap water contains fluoride will reduce a child’s chances of developing cavities. Some dentists may also recommend dental sealants, particularly for back teeth where kids primarily chew will prevent an estimated 80% of cavities.
What should parents do to help their children avoid cavities:
- Start dental checkups as early as age 1 which is a recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Always purchase fluoride toothpaste for children 2 and above.
- Teach your kids how to floss as soon as they start getting teeth.
- For children under age 6, supervise as they brush their teeth to ensure they are not swallowing the toothpaste.
- If your drinking water is not fluoridated, discuss with your dentist or family physician whether or not fluoride supplements are right for your children.
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants.
Introduce good dental practices early on with your children. By starting dental visits at age 1, children may not be quite as apprehensive about going to the dentist as they grow older. Practicing good oral health measures at home will help prevent cavities and ward off the fear children sometimes feel when they have a cavity and need to have a filling or crown.