National Children's Dental Health Month
Celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month in February! Make sure that your child’s dental health gets off to a good start with these tips.
First Dental Visit
Did you know that experts recommend that a child’s first visit to the dentist should be by his or her first birthday or within six months of when his or her first tooth erupts? It’s very important that your child keeps his or her primary (baby) teeth until they fall out naturally. Primary teeth:
- Help a child chew properly and eat nutritious foods.
- Help a child learn to speak normally.
- Hold space for the permanent (adult) teeth.
It’s best to take your child to the dentist before problems start. The dental hygienist or dentist can show you how to clean your child’s teeth and talk to you about ways to prevent cavities, such as using fluoride and limiting sugar in his or her diet. Preventing dental problems when your child is young will save time, money and teeth as he or she gets older.
Fluoride helps prevent cavities in people of all ages, but it’s especially important in helping children get off to a good start. Fortunately, most people in Ohio who get their water from a public water system drink fluoridated water. Community water fluoridation is said to be one of the ten great public health achievements of our time. Learn more about the benefits of water fluoridation by visiting the Life is Better with Teeth website.
Fluoride varnish is one of the easiest ways to prevent tooth decay and keep small cavities from getting bigger. The varnish is painted on teeth, hardens as soon as saliva touches it and can be applied as soon as babies get their first teeth. You can get fluoride varnish applied to your child’s teeth at the dental office or at the doctor’s office during routine check-ups. Doctors and other medical staff can apply fluoride varnish. Learn more about fluoride varnish by viewing this fact sheet.
Using toothpaste with fluoride is another important way to prevent cavities. Remember to use the right amount with these tips:
- Use a smear (the size of a grain of rice) of toothpaste for children under 3 years old.
- Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for ages 3 to 5.
- Help your child brush until your child is 7-8 years old.
- Brush teeth for two minutes, two times a day, reaching all teeth.
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the biting surface of a back tooth to prevent tooth decay. Sealants block food and decay-causing germs from going into the narrow grooves of the teeth where decay is most likely to occur. Dental sealants prevent the most common type of tooth decay seen in school-aged children today. Your child can get dental sealants at the dentist’s office. The Ohio Department of Health also funds programs that provide dental sealants to children at schools that serve many children from lower-income families.
Contact the Oral Health program at (614)466-4180 or BCHS@odh.ohio.gov for more information.
Page Created 02/02/2017