February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!
Good habits at home will set your children up for a healthy mouth throughout their lives. The American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month every February. This year, the ADA’s theme is “Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!” Fluoride in drinking water is proven to help reduce decay and strengthen their developing teeth.
If your child is in daycare, preschool or elementary school they will most likely be learning about good oral hygiene habits this month. But just a few fun lessons, videos, songs and coloring pages won’t help them develop those habits at home. That’s where you come in. Parents, grandparents, foster parents and other primary care givers are most influential in starting and spurring on oral health habits. Let’s look at some ways you can show your tiny humans how to keep their teeth healthy for a lifetime.
Be A Role Model
Children learn by example and they want to imitate what they see. Be a great role model by letting them watch you brush, floss and rinse your teeth twice a day. Then while they are watching you, encouraged them to grab their toothbrush and brush along with you. When you send your kids to the bathroom to brush and floss on their own they think it’s a chore or punishment. Instead, make it fun, do it along with them. Put a song on and brush for the entire song. Make it a competition, see who can get their teeth the shiniest. When you lead by example and make it fun they will want to brush their teeth instead of resenting you for making them.
Once again, routine is key. By age 1 you should take your child to the dentist for an examination by the doctor and cleaning with the hygienist. Then every 6 months make it a priority to visit the dental office for preventive care. The dental staff are trained to keep the visits positive and fun.
Don’t talk negatively about the dental office in front of your children. But do explain what will happen during the visit. You can say things like: “There will be a big comfy chair that lays you back so they can look in your mouth. The dentist will count your teeth to make sure they are healthy. The hygienist will clean them and make your teeth sparkly white.”
As parents it is our job to pass on good habits to our children. If we can keep their baby teeth healthy and encourage them to take responsibility of their dental hygiene, as they get older they will want to take good care of their teeth on their own. Keeping our children cavity free should be our #1 goal for their oral health.