Children’s Dental Health Awareness

The February 2018 National Children’s Dental Health Month is brought to you by the ADA (American Dental Association) and meant to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. This month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.

Despite the fact that it’s almost entirely preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. The good news is there are safe and effective preventive measures that can protect teeth. Good oral hygiene practices such as thorough brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep children from getting cavities. In addition, dental sealants and community water fluoridation are two other strategies that can h​elp prevent tooth decay.

> Reports show that American students miss 51 million hours of school every year because of oral health problems. And students who are absent miss critical instruction time—especially in early grades where reading skills are an important focus and the building blocks of future learning. And students who have experienced recent oral health pain are four times more likely to have lower grade point averages than their counterparts who have not.

Dental experts recommend taking your child for their first pediatric dentist visit no later than their first birthday or as soon as their first tooth erupts through the gums. Then, this should be followed by regular dental checkups and cleanings to prevent, treat, and detect dental problems early. Be sure to brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day and floss their teeth at least once a day to help remove plaque and food between teeth and below the gum line. Ask your pediatric dentist to show you and your child the most appropriate oral hygiene techniques.

Sugary, starchy, and acidic foods can cause tooth decay if they’re eaten frequently or remain on teeth for a long time. They continuously coat the teeth with sugar, which can result in tooth decay. Have your child brush their teeth right after eating or drinking these items, and try to focus their attention on foods that are unsweetened or sugar-free. The ADA suggest teaching your child to choose healthier foods and to take care of their teeth properly.

Fruits and vegetables that have a high volume of water (like pears, melons, and cucumbers) are low in sugar, and the crunching they require actually helps clean the teeth. Try to limit your child’s intake of foods like bananas because they’re higher in sugar. Foods like raisins, dried fruit, granola bars, cookies, hard candies, jelly beans, honey, chewy caramels, and syrup tend to stick to the teeth and are difficult for saliva to wash away. Sugary beverages such as soda and fruit juice also have a negative effect in your child’s mouth. Before bed suggest that your child brush their teeth so that the sugars do not coat their teeth overnight.

Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. The more that they can have a positive experience when they’re younger,the more that they’re going to want to take care of their teeth and have a life of good oral health.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and