Did you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? Now you do! 🙂 Given the nature of the month, this probably isn’t a holiday to celebrate with a cake (though dentist birthday cakes are apparently a thing) but here are some ways you can focus on your child’s dental health this month.
Check on your child’s tooth brushing habits
For mamas of little ones, this probably means to check on how YOU (or your spouse/partner/other caregiver) is brushing their teeth. For babies without teeth, clean their gums with a washcloth. Once teeth come in, start brushing those teeth with fluoride toothpaste. For the under three crowd, use a grain of rice’s worth. Once your kiddo hits three (and can spit), use a pea sized amount. Tooth brushing should happen twice a day for two minutes each. If two minutes is a struggle, consider popping on one of the plethora of YouTube videos. My son is partial to this Blippi one but he also likes the “brush your teeth” song my husband made up. It’s pretty funny… who knew dental health could be?
For older kids, you probably know your child… do you need to remind them? Or organize a family tooth brushing party/reward chart, etc.? Whatever works!
And while you’re at it… check on toothbrushes. They should be replaced every three months or after you get sick, whichever comes first. If they look gross or worn, they probably are due for an upgrade. My son is always thrilled when he gets a new toothbrush, especially when he gets to pick it out!
Schedule a dentist appointment… and maybe a treat to go along with it
This is what I’m going to be doing this month! My son is two and a half and has yet to visit the dentist. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a visit by age one, though when I asked our pediatrician, he disagreed and suggested by age three. I recently added my son to our dental insurance, and I want to get my money’s worth–so I’ll be scheduling his first visit for this spring (so he can also go a second time this year).
I’ve never had a huge fear of the dentist. I don’t know why… maybe because I’ve had pretty healthy teeth, maybe because my parents made an effort to take me regularly throughout my childhood, or maybe it’s just luck of the draw. Regardless of the reason, that is something I want for my son as well–a healthy view of the dentist. So I plan to make him a dental appointment and plan something fun for afterwards. (A doughnut stop seems a little counterproductive, so maybe a trip to the playground will be in order.) Some people might call this bribery… I call it positive association. 🙂
Pssst if you need to find a dentist, this is a handy tool!
Cut back on sugary snacks and beverages
Your child might love sweet treats, but the bacteria in his or her mouth loves them even more. “Sucrose (sugar) is the ‘food’ for the bacteria that cause tooth decay,” Dr. Hayes says. “Those bacteria produce acid that etches away the teeth.” – mouthhealthy.org
This has the added bonus of improving your child’s diet (and maybe your own too)! Though it doesn’t sound fun, it may not be as bad as you think. Being creative with food choices has lots of benefits for children besides just dental health. The more exposure they have to healthy foods, the better. It can take lots of tries before your tot tries snap peas, but they may become their favorite food!
Need some additional incentive to cut back on the sweets, even if the packaged stuff is easier than cutting up some veggies? Less sugar (probably)=less cavities and better dental health. That can’t be bad! Even just one simple change each day could have a positive impact. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Curl up together and read a good book…. about dental health!
This list of oral health reads by the National Education Association is full of good books about teeth. Our local library has many of them. Win!
Or learn about dental health with your child in other ways
How are YOU going to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month?
I know that dental health isn’t always glamorous, but is important, so let’s work together to help our child’s future teeth be a little bit healthier this month!
That was totally cheesy but please know that my heart behind that statement is genuine. 🙂