February is Children’s Dental Health Month. What better time to help ensure that your child’s smile shines brightly for years to come? Here’s some useful tips for protecting your child’s teeth from infancy on.
Your child’s dental care routine should begin before his or her first tooth arrives. Even though kids eventually lose them, baby teeth are an important part of ensuring that your child’s mouth stays healthy. For instance, baby teeth maintain space for permanent teeth and help prevent crowding in the mouth later. Baby teeth also help kids learn to speak, eat and smile!
Baby teeth usually begin to appear at about six months, although some children might be a year or older before they get their first tooth. The American Dental Association offers these tips to help you keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.
Again, the earlier the better. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you take your child to the dentist for the first time by his or her first birthday, or within six months of a first tooth. During your visit, you can expect the dentist to do the following:
To help ensure the first visit goes smoothly, here are some tips to prepare:
One of the best ways to protect your child’s teeth and gums is to provide a healthy, balanced diet. Foods rich in calcium, for instance, help build strong teeth. Beans, nuts, and green vegetables such as kale and spinach are loaded with calcium. What’s more, there’s evidence that calcium-rich dairy foods such as cheese can inhibit the effects of tooth-decaying acids.
And don’t forget to make sure your child drinks plenty of water. The American Dental Association’s Fluoridation Facts booklet notes that studies have consistently demonstrated that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by more than 25% in children.
If your community doesn’t provide fluoridated water, ask your dentist about fluoride supplements, such tablets, drops or gels, and topical fluoride varnishes, which are applied to your child’s teeth at the dentist’s office.
With an early start on oral care, consistent visits to the dentist and a healthy, mouth-friendly diet, you can help ensure that you child is well on the way to a lifetime of strong teeth, healthy gums and dazzling smiles.