According to the American Dental Association (ADA), National Children’s Dental Health observances began with a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio and a one-week event in Akron, Ohio during February 1941. Expanding to more than two cities, The ADA held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. A one-day event grew into a weeklong celebration in 1955, and was so successful that in 1981, the program was extended to recognize the entire month of February as National Children’s Dental Health Month.
So What Does That Mean To Me?
This is a great month for teachers, parents, and healthcare professionals to learn about the best oral health and hygiene practices for children. That means not only being informed about children’s dental development but working with kids to be sure THEY know how to take care of their teeth, gums, and tongues.
What about baby teeth? They fall out, so…
Just because a child’s baby teeth fall out eventually doesn’t mean that it isn’t critical to take care of them. Decay can form deep into the roots and gums and prevent healthy permanent teeth from erupting, so be sure you and your child know and follow the basic rules of oral care.
My child is too little – what do I do?
- Clean your baby’s mouth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
- A baby’s first tooth may appear as early as at 3 months old. The ADA recommends that your child have his/her first dental visit within 6 months of the appearance of that first tooth! Regardless, be sure you schedule a visit with a pediatric dentist by your child’s first birthday.
- When you start to use an age-appropriate toothbrush to brush your child’s teeth, be sure not to use more than a rice-kernel sized amount of a fluoride toothpaste. No more until after the child is more than 3 years old!
OK, my child wants to brush on his/her own!
Once your child is between 3 and 6 years old, he/she may want to be independent and take care of him/herself. Be sure to:
- Always supervise the brushing process.
- Never let him/her use more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Never let him/her swallow the toothpaste.
- Encourage some gentle flossing to get between those little teeth.
Always keep up your child’s semi-annual dental visits. Be sure that they continue going to a dentist who specializes in pediatric care, and remember – the more regularly they go, the more they will think of the dentist’s office as a normal, not fearful, part of their lives!
Talk to your dentist, too, about the importance of teaching your children to clean their tongues with a TUNG Brush and Gel when they are old enough – don’t forget, good habits last a lifetime!