Did you know that February is National Dental Health Month? It’s often a tough job to get kids to brush their teeth, but it’s essential if they’re going to have good oral health. My kids started going to the dentist at age 3, which is usually a good time to start unless your pediatrician recommends an earlier start due to a specific medical condition. I highly recommend taking your kids to a pediatric dentist. Children’s dentists are accustomed to working with kids, who can often be hesitant to “cooperate” when having their teeth examined, and pediatric offices are often filled with games and toys to help children to relax and have fun. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are some “Simple Steps for Kids’ Smiles”:
2. Use the right amount of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is important for fighting cavities, but if children younger than 6 years old swallow too much fluoride, their permanent teeth may have white spots. To keep this from happening, use only a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a pea). Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and to rinse well after brushing.
3. Supervise brushing. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day until your child has the skill to handle the toothbrush alone. Then continue to closely watch brushing to make sure the child is doing a thorough job and using only a small amount of toothpaste.
4. Talk to your child’s doctor or dentist. Check with the doctor or dentist about your child’s specific fluoride needs. After age 2, most children get the right amount of fluoride to help prevent cavities if they drink water that contains fluoride and brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
Parents of children older than 6 months should ask about the need for a fluoride supplement if drinking water does not have enough fluoride.
Do not let a child younger than 6 years old use a fluoride rinse unless the child’s doctor or dentist recommends it.
Early care for your children’s teeth will protect their smile and their health.