What is National Children’s Dental Health Month?
The ADA’s Children’s Dental Health Day was first celebrated on February 8, 1949. It became a month-long commemoration in 1981. 40 years later, children’s dental health continues to be promoted throughout February for National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). Celebrating children’s oral health awareness is incredibly important for our communities. Tooth decay remains the most common chronic childhood disease. We hope that by continuing to educate our patients that Preventative Dentistry for Children and oral health for all is vitally important. By educating our goal is to increase awareness to help motivate more parents and other adults to recognize the seriousness of children’s dental disease.
Why is Children’s Dental Health Month Important?
NCDHM raises awareness of the importance of teaching children good oral habits early to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles. Parents or caregivers are essential and can promote preventative dentistry for children and children’s dental health this month and throughout the year. We strive to support children’s dental health by working with our patients on specific topics such as:
- Tooth decay
- Getting your child familiar with their dentist’s office
- Preventing crowded teeth
- Healthy gums in later years
Keeping up with daily oral care and visiting the dentist at least twice a year for an oral examination and professional cleanings are steps you can take towards a happier and healthier mouth! Setting the foundation for your child earlier in life will set your child up for success in the future. Check out the Parent’s Guide to Keeping Little Mouths Healthy
created by the ADHA.
February Focus: Prevention!
Let’s talk about preventative dentistry for children. We want to spread the word about how poor oral health and cavities impact our kids’ health and quality of life. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), dental caries/cavities are four times more common than childhood asthma and three times more likely than childhood obesity. That means that the most common condition among children is largely preventable. In their 2021 State of Little Teeth Report
, AAPD examined the epidemic of tooth decay among children. Check out the following key stats from the Report:
- Tooth decay is the NUMBER ONE chronic infectious disease affecting children in the United States and is on the rise, but it is largely preventable.
- The rate of tooth decay in baby teeth of children aged 2 to 5 years increased nearly 17% from 1988-1994 to 1999-2004.
- By age 5 about 60% of children will be affected by tooth decay.
- Children with oral health problems are THREE TIMES more likely to miss school due to dental pain than children with no oral health problems.
- AAPD recommends taking a child for their first dental visit by the age of 1.
- Delaying dental care to age 2 or 3 can have a negative impact on a child’s oral health. 40% of parents and caregivers surveyed are delaying their child’s first visit until after age 2.
Each February we celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month! During the entire month of February, we focus on preventative dentistry for children because we are passionate about children’s overall health. Take this time to increase awareness about pediatric dental hygiene – and find out how you can best support your child’s dental care.
Understanding Why Baby Teeth Are Important
Baby (primary) teeth are a child’s first set of teeth. A baby’s teeth start to come in at 6 to 10 months, and by the time a child is 2½ to 3 years old, all 20 baby teeth will have come into the mouth. Taking care of a child’s baby teeth is important for the child’s overall health and development.
Baby teeth are important for children to:
- Chew and eat foods. Children need to eat healthy foods every day to grow and be strong. Children with tooth decay are less likely to eat crunchy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Being able to eat these foods promotes good nutrition and a healthy weight. Learn more about mouth-healthy foods here.
- Speak clearly. Children who lose baby teeth too early may have trouble making certain sounds. This can make it hard to understand the child. A child may need speech therapy to improve speech problems that may develop because of missing teeth.
- Have self-confidence. Children with decayed front teeth tend to not smile or may cover their mouth when talking. Sometimes they stop playing with other children. A healthy smile helps give children the self-confidence needed to have good social experiences.
- Stay healthy. Tooth decay in baby teeth can lead to infections that can cause fever and pain. If not treated, the infection from tooth decay can spread to other parts of the head and neck and lead to severe swelling.
- Keep space for adult teeth. Baby teeth hold space for adult teeth growing in the jaw. If a baby tooth is lost too early, other teeth that are already in the mouth will move into the space. It can block out the adult tooth trying to come in and cause crowding. The upper and lower jaws may not meet properly because of the crooked teeth.
How Can Cavities be Prevented?
Cavities happen when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole — or cavity — forms.
Here’s how to keep cavities away:
- Oral habits start early. Teach your kids to brush at least twice a day and to floss regularly.
- Avoid certain foods or limit them. Sugary foods, including juices and candy (especially gummy sticky candy, fruit “roll-ups” or gummy vitamins). They can erode enamel and cause cavities. If your kiddos eat these foods, have them brush their teeth or rinse their mouth after eating to wash away the sugar and bacteria. Remember to drink water and stay hydrated, instead of sugary beverages. Check out some mouth-healthy foods here.
- As your child’s permanent teeth grow in, your dentist can help prevent decay by applying a thin layer of sealant to the back teeth. This is where most chewing is done, and this protective coating keeps bacteria from settling into the crevices of the molars that are difficult to reach.
Why do children’s teeth decay?
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria make a sticky substance called plaque that can eat away at a tooth’s enamel. Poor oral hygiene can raise your child’s risk for tooth decay. A dentist can diagnose tooth decay with an exam and X-rays.
What will a Dr. Anderson’s Team do for toddler tooth decay?
Dr. Anderson and his team can remove decayed parts of the tooth and perform either a dental filling or a dental crown to fill holes in the tooth. For a filling, he uses a tooth-colored composite resin or an amalgam filling.
Check Their Brushing Technique
If you don’t watch your kids brush their teeth, take time this month to check-in on their brushing habits. Checking in with your kiddos and offering helpful tips and tricks will keep their teeth looking great and staying healthy. National Children’s Dental Health month is a great time to learn about preventative dentistry for children and promote good oral hygiene habits with your family. Keep up with checkups, treat the family with new toothbrushes, and ensure your child knows how to clean their teeth properly. Putting techniques into practice each day will not only help show the importance for preventative dentistry for kids, but for your whole family. If you have questions, please ask us … we want you to know how important dental health is to your family’s overall health.
Buy New Toothbrushes
Did you know that toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 to 4 months? That’s right … frayed bristles decrease their effectiveness. Get kids excited about their regular hygiene routine by letting them select toothbrushes with their favorite characters and choose toothpaste they like. February is an excellent time to toss out old toothbrushes and replace them with new ones. Related Articles:
Schedule a Dental Appointment
Now that you understand the importance of baby teeth, you understand why making an appointment at the dentist is one of the best ways to celebrate February’s theme. The more time they spend with their dental team, the more comfortable they’ll be when they visit. It is encouraged for children to have regular cleanings every 6 months. If you schedule an appointment in February, your child’s second appointment will fall just-in-time before back-to-school in August. Learn why Regular Dental Exams Prevent Decay and Health Issues.
Tips for Visiting the Dentist:
- If your child asks what will happen at the dental clinic, give a simple answer. For example, say:
- “They may count how many teeth you have.”
- “They may clean your teeth to make them shiny and bright!”
- If you don’t like visiting the dentist, don’t share that information with your child. That might make your child worry about going, too.
- Set up a pretend dental chair. Pretend to be the dentist or dental hygienist. Look in your child’s mouth and count her teeth; then talk to her about brushing her teeth.
- Read books or watch videos with your child about visiting the dentist. Don’t use books or videos that have words like hurt, pain, shot, drill, afraid, or any other words that might scare your child.
- Let your child bring his favorite toy or blanket to the clinic.
- If you find out that your child will receive a small toy or new toothbrush at the end of the visit, remind your child of this reward.
- Plan a fun activity for after their visit to the dentist.
We love our little patients and strive to make their dental visits comfortable and fun! When they enjoy visiting Dr. Anderson and his Team, they will likely brush their teeth regularly and look forward to their next visit! If you have more than one child, we will do our best to schedule your children’s visits together, if that makes it easier for you to bring everyone at the same time! Related Articles:
We Want Your Family to Have Healthy Smiles
Children’s Dental Health Month is really about the importance of preventative dentistry for children. Regular, scheduled dental checkups every 6 months are a great way to stay on top of your child’s oral health. When you come and see us early on for family dentistry, we can assess your child’s gums and you can ask us any questions you’d like. It’s a great way to establish your child’s dental routine, monitor their oral health, and implement any preventative measures. Schedule your appointment to meet with any of our skilled dentists at one of our three conveniently located dental office locations within the Kansas City area, including Lee’s Summit / Independence, the Country Club Plaza and Downtown Kansas City. The gentle dentists and expert team at Thomas L. Anderson and Associates look forward to working with you to treat your dental emergency, achieve proper oral health and a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. If you have any questions about your dental insurance benefits, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to review your policy! Please give us a call today to schedule an appointment and become part of our dental family.