February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

This month, dental professionals are reminding people all over the country that children’s dental health is a vital part of their overall health.  We know that children keep parents very busy, and it can be tough to remember all the things.  This is your friendly reminder to put a dental visit on the calendar for your children!

Why is Children’s Dental Health Important?

Hopefully, the word “health” in that question gave you a clue.  We want your kids to be completely healthy, and that has to include a healthy mouth.  Here are some specific reasons that dental health matters.

Dental Health Impacts Overall Health

As with adults, a child’s dental health can impact his or her overall health.  Chronic inflammation and infections in the mouth affect the entire body, including the immune system.  Children with unhealthy mouths are susceptible to other illnesses.

Dental Infections Can Kill

It is extremely rare, but possible.  An untreated dental infection can lead to a child’s death by spreading into the airway, bloodstream or brain.  Because children often do not complain of dental abscesses the way adults do, it can be easy to miss these if you do not routinely evaluate the inside of your child’s mouth.

Toothaches are a Common Cause of School AbsencesBaby tooth decay 2

Statistics show that one of the most common causes of school absences in children is a toothache or dental infection.  Obviously, they cause pain and the need for dental visits that lead to missed school.  They can also cause fever and general feelings of illness that may not be immediately recognized as dental problems.

What Should I Be Doing to Ensure my Child’s Dental Health is Good?

Unfortunately, it isn’t up to your child to make sure he or she has healthy teeth and gums.  It’s all you.  In general, here are the things you can do to ensure good dental health for your children.

Home Care

This is the most difficult because it takes daily persistence.  For some of you, we know that it takes an actual battle.  In order to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy, daily home care is of the utmost importance.  Good home care includes the following:

  1. Brushing twice daily.

A good rule to follow is brushing the teeth before leaving the house int he morning and before bed.  Unless your child can tie his own shoes, then he is not yet able to adequately clean his teeth.  Either you brush your children’s teeth for them, or closely monitor their brushing and follow up on any areas they missed.

We recommend plaque disclosing tablets (available for purchase online) to help you and your child see where plaque remains on the teeth after brushing.

  1.  Floss

Yes, flossing.  We know adults don’t even like to floss their own teeth.  However, just as it is essential to healthy adult teeth, it is as important for healthy children’s teeth.  The good news is that children have less teeth, so it shouldn’t take quite as long.

We recommend sitting on the floor and having your child lay down with his head in your lap.  Then you can look down into the mouth and floss easily.

  1. Using products recommended by your dentist.

Some children with different risk levels for cavities and/or gum disease will require different types of oral hygiene products (toothpastes, gels, mouthwashes, etc . . .).  If your dentist recommends a specific product, make sure to use it as directed to keep your child’s dental disease risk as low as possible.

Monitoring Diet

This is a big one.  Because you generally control what your children eat and drink, it is important that you present them with healthy options.  We know that if there are sugary snacks and drinks available, children will always choose those.  A simple rule is that if you don’t buy them, your children will not have them on a regular basis.  This is especially important for drinks like sodas and sports drinks.  Their high sugar level and acidic pH put children at high risk for cavities.

Try stocking the pantry and fridge with healthy snacks that do not increase the risk for cavities, like nuts, veggies and cheese.

Consistent Dental Visits

Child at dentistHas it been more than a year since your child’s last dental check-up?  Then February is the time to call and schedule a visit.  We are open during the school’s Spring Break vacations, so you don’t even need to take them out of school.

Consistent dental visits are essential to catching dental problems early and intercepting issues before they become painful and/or expensive to treat.

More Questions about Your Children’s Dental Health?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  We love seeing children in our practice and can answer any question you have about the dental health of your child!

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