The American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month every February to promote awareness among children of the benefits of good oral health. This year’s month-long campaign, "Brush and clean in between to build a healthy smile," aims to encourage positive oral hygiene habits.
It is recommended that children visit a dentist by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth emerging to ensure proper dental development. As per the guidelines outlined by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it has been found that a significant proportion of children, exceeding 50 percent, tend to suffer from tooth decay prior to the age of five. Thus, emphasizing the importance of early dental checkups for children. Parents can also help by showing their children proper brushing and flossing techniques and following the 2-2-2 Rule: seeing the dentist twice a year and brushing and flossing twice a day for two minutes.
Proper brushing technique involves holding the toothbrush at a 45° angle and brushing along the gum line, using a back and forth, up and down motion to clean all surfaces of each tooth. The tongue should also be gently wiped to remove bacteria. Brushing should be done twice a day for two minutes each time, with extra attention given to the molars. Children should not share their toothbrush, and it should be replaced when the bristles begin to fray.
Once teeth start touching, it's time to start flossing to clean areas that the toothbrush can't reach. Using about 18 inches of floss, slide it gently between two teeth and create a C-shape at the gum line around each tooth. Pull the floss tight to scrape against each tooth and repeat until all teeth have been cleaned. Children should begin brushing on their own once they have developed manual dexterity and coordination, usually around six or seven years old, and can usually start flossing by themselves around nine or ten.
Teenagers may face additional challenges to maintaining good oral hygiene, such as having braces, getting wisdom teeth removed, or feeling self-conscious about their smile. Parents can support their teens by encouraging them to stick to daily oral hygiene habits, supplying them with dental hygiene supplies like soft toothbrushes and flavored floss, and providing healthy snack options like fruits and vegetables. Teens who participate in sports should wear athletic guards to protect their teeth, and parents should talk to them about peer-pressure activities that can damage their smile, like smoking, drinking, or getting oral piercings.
In summary, National Children’s Dental Health Month serves as an opportunity to reinforce good oral hygiene habits and provide children and teens with the tools and support they need for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
For any concerns on how to maintain your children's oral health, you may visit our clinic in Edina, MN and schedule an appointment with our esteemed team. We will be happy to assist you maintain your children's healthy smiles!