Children’s tooth decay is highly preventable

In 1949, the American Dental Association designated a day in February to call attention to the importance of children’s dental health. This annual observance was expanded to a week in 1955, and eventually to a month-long celebration in 1981. Since then the ADA has declared February as National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Over the past several decades, studies have shown measurable progress in the reduction of tooth decay among young people. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in five children and adolescents continue to have untreated cavities.

Health care officials note that while tooth decay is highly preventable, it remains the most common chronic health disease affecting children today.

Here are a few tips that the dental care providers at Northern Menominee Health Center in Spalding recommend for protecting children’s teeth.

1. Brush Daily. Help your children brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Parents can begin cleaning their child’s teeth as soon as they come in with water and a clean, soft cloth or a baby toothbrush. At approximately age two, depending on your dentist or physician’s advice, begin putting fluoride toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush. Children younger than age eight cannot get their teeth clean by themselves, so make sure they do a thorough job. Encourage them to spit out the toothpaste after brushing, rather than swallow it.

2. Floss Too. Along with brushing, the American Dental Association calls flossing a necessary part of protecting children’s oral health. Flossing should begin when the child has two teeth that come in next to each other.

3. Got Fluoride? Find out if your tap water has fluoride in it. If it doesn’t, ask your dentist or physician about whether your child needs fluoride in other forms.

4. Visit a Dentist Regularly. Your child should visit the dentist by their first birthday. The dentist will show you how to keep their teeth clean and will provide other information for protecting your child’s oral health.

5. Healthy meals and snacks. Fruits and vegetables are good oral health options for snacks. However, limit snacking between meals. Save sugary deserts and drinks for special occasions.

6. Ask you dentist about dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to tooth surfaces that provide harmless, long lasting protection against cavities. Dental sealants and other treatments are strongly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The dental care providers at Sawyer Dental Center join with health care providers across the nation in encouraging parents to take steps to protect their children’s oral health and to help make childhood cavities a thing of the past.

During National Children’s Dental Health Month the dental center will offer Super Smile posters to young patients. The two-sided poster, one aimed at young children and the other for teens, reminds young people to brush their teeth for two minutes, two times each day.

For more information or for an appointment call Northern Menominee Health Center at (906) 497-5516.