February means Valentine’s Day, slushy snow, and groundhogs – but did you know that February is also National Children’s Dental Health month?
One of the first events officially held to raise awareness about children’s dental health was in February of 1941. The month-long event that we now celebrate was eventually instituted by the American Dental Association in 1981. Its purpose is to remind parents and dental health professionals about the importance of good dental health practices in little ones.
So how important is it to teach kids to properly care for their teeth? In fact, a recent study by the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC suggests that oral pain and poor oral health may negatively affect performance in school – leading to lower grades and more absences.
If you have a child at home, you may have wondered about the best ways to set them up for dental health success. The following are a few tips about pediatric dental health and some answers to questions that many parents ask us:
When is it okay to start using fluoride toothpaste?
Some parents express concern over using fluoride toothpaste with young children; however, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises brushing your child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste as soon as baby teeth appear! You can use a very small amount of toothpaste on a soft brush to care for sensitive baby teeth.
After the age of 2, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to a “pea-size” dab. Be sure to assist your child with brushing between the ages of 2 and 5, as they are not yet old enough to brush properly. Also, teach them to spit toothpaste into the sink rather than swallow it.
Is thumb-sucking harming my child’s teeth?
In young children, thumb-sucking or using a pacifier is normal. Oral health problems related to this type of behavior may occur if it persists through about the age of five, or when permanent teeth start to replace baby teeth.
Depending on factors like the frequency, duration, and intensity of thumb-sucking or pacifier use, the behavior may eventually cause teeth to become misaligned, or create other oral health problems. If you’re concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kaplansky.
How can I make dental care more engaging for my child?
There are a few tricks you can use to make brushing and flossing more engaging for kids.
We’ve found that colorful, age-appropriate toothbrushes can get children excited about caring for their teeth. There are even brushes available that have handles that light up. The light stays on for the length of time that a child should spend brushing. Flavored toothpaste may also enhance the brushing experience for a child.
We’ve found it also helps to bring children to visit the dentist from a young age. We start seeing children at the age of two! Dr. Kaplansky enjoys working with children, answering their questions, and helping them feel comfortable in the dentist’s chair.
Celebrate Children’s Dental Health month to the fullest by scheduling an appointment for your child! Call us at 716-772-7500 to get started.