February is National Children ’s Dental Health Month! Many people mistakenly believe that oral hygiene isn’t important for children—after all, baby teeth do fall out. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Dental health, oral hygiene, and whole-body wellness are essential at all ages!
Baby teeth are different from permanent teeth in a few key ways—namely, they have a thinner layer of enamel. This makes baby teeth much more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities. In fact, cavities are the most common chronic disease among children, and the CDC estimates that 20% of children are suffering from untreated tooth decay.
This may not seem like a big deal, since baby teeth are considered “disposable.” But tooth decay can result in dental discomfort and pain and can lead to problems in adult teeth. Baby teeth are important for guiding a child ’s permanent teeth into place. When baby teeth fall out prematurely due to tooth decay, the permanent teeth are much more likely to be misaligned. Later in life, this misalignment will likely need to be corrected with costly orthodontics or even surgery.
However, baby tooth decay is very preventable with healthy dental hygiene habits! To help you motivate your child to keep their teeth clean, Dr. Bowen and Dr. Gehlert have come up with a great list of suggestions:
- Book biannual dental appointments for your child. When you visit us for your child’s dental needs, you’ll experience the Bowen Legacy Dental difference. We take a holistic approach to care—not only looking at cavities, but also at your child’s growth, development, breathing, and sleeping—all of which are interconnected with dental health. We make our pediatric appointments kid friendly, fun, and educational in order to promote whole-body wellness that sets your child up for a lifetime of success.
- Let your child choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste flavor. Your child is much more likely to get excited to brush if their toothbrush is a fun color or features one of their favorite characters. Likewise, we recommend that you let your child have a say in selecting their preferred toothpaste flavor. Let them take some ownership over their oral hygiene routine, and they will be much more compliant when it comes to daily brushing!
- Read books or watch videos that discuss dental hygiene. When your child sees Elmo (or another beloved character) brushing his teeth, it will be easier to get them excited about oral hygiene! Try searching YouTube for clips of your child’s favorite character brushing their teeth; many children’s shows have episodes that focus on oral hygiene.
- Make a sticker calendar to reward good oral hygiene habits. You don’t want to reward good dental habits with sugary treats, but a fun sticker calendar can help you motivate your child to brush and floss their teeth daily! In addition, make brushing a game—you can set a timer or have your child brush along to his or her favorite two-minute song.
- Plan a fun activity whenever your child visits the dentist. For many children, the dentist might be an intimidating place, but it doesn’t have to be! Help your child form positive associations with the dentist’s office by planning a fun activity such as visiting the park or zoo whenever they have an appointment.
- Set a good example. Your child looks up to you, and this means that they’ll pick up on your dental habits, too. Do your child—and yourself—a favor, and make sure you practice good oral hygiene.
If you help your child establish a strong dental routine while they ’re young, they will carry these good habits with them into the future. If you are looking to schedule an appointment for your child, call us today to book your next appointment. We look forward to helping you nurture your child’s best health and wellness—one smile at a time.
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