Did you know tooth decay is the most common childhood disease? The good news is that tooth decay is almost 100 percent preventable at an early age. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and it’s a great time to call attention to the benefits of good oral health.
Healthy teeth are important for overall health. Tooth decay can negatively impact children’s growth and development, making it difficult to eat, speak, play, learn and be successful in school. Prevention requires daily oral hygiene, healthy foods and drink choices, and regular professional oral healthcare.
Follow these five simple steps to ensure your child’s good oral health:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste to brush teeth twice a day. If your children are younger than 6, help them brush their teeth. Make sure they brush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as their teeth come in.
- Talk with your pediatrician, family doctor, dentist, or dental hygienist about putting a fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.
- Drink only water between meals. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist or healthcare provider if your child needs oral fluoride supplements, like drops or tablets.
- Ask your child’s dentist about dental sealants, which protect teeth from decay.
- Schedule your child’s first dental check up by age 1, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“One in four children have tooth decay or cavities before they enter kindergarten,” said Helen Hawkey, executive director, Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH), the leading advocacy group for improving oral health throughout the Commonwealth. “That’s why we encourage everyone to follow the American Dental Association’s guidelines to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile.”
PCOH advances policies and practices that increase access to oral health services, education and prevention, especially for our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. More resources can be found www.paoralhealth.org or call 724-972-7242.