Like most people, you probably associate February with hearts and cupids. But it’s also the month of healthy smiles.
In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, the staff of Akron Children’s Celeste Myers Dental Clinic has compiled 10 tips for parents of young children to help them get their smiles off to a healthy start in life. But did you know that there is a strong connection between oral health and overall health?
Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria – most of them harmless. But without good oral hygiene, these bacteria can cause tooth decay, gum disease and even cause infections and health problems outside of the mouth.
Healthy habits start early, so …
- Take your child to the dentist by age 1.
- Prepare your child for his or her first dental visit by reading books or watching videos and always being positive when talking to your child about the dentist.
- Allow babies who are teething to suck on a clean frozen wash cloth or teething ring. The cold temperature will help alleviate the soreness.
- Start fluoride toothpaste at age 2 – only a rice-grain sized amount is needed.
- Do not put your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup.
- Make sure your child always wears a mouth guard when playing sports to help prevent dental injuries.
- Limit juice intake to 4 ounces per day.
- Avoid sugary and starchy snacks. Tooth-friendly snack options include grapes, apples, cheese cubs and raw almonds.
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants to protect adult molars from developing cavities.
- Brush after breakfast and before bed and floss at least once every day.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child establish a dental home within 6 months of the first tooth eruption and no later than 12 months of age.
“The concept of finding a dentist is stressed by our academy so it creates an ongoing relationship between providers, parents and child,” said Dr. Jeffrey Berlin, a pediatric dentist at the Celeste Myers Dental Clinic.
The goal is that such a relationship will makes the child feel more comfortable with each visit, while keeping the teeth and gums healthy through regular dental exams, cleanings and education.