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National Children’s Dental Health Month

During February, we celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month. Here are some ways that you can make sure that your child gets off to a good start for dental health.

 

First Dental Visit

 

Did you know that experts recommend that a child’s first visit to the dentist should be by one year of age or within six months of when the first tooth erupts? It’s very important that your child keeps their primary (baby) teeth until they fall out on their own. 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.
  • Help a child have a good smile.

 

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 the diet. Preventing dental problems when your child is young will save time, money and teeth as your child gets older.

 

Fluoride

 

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. It’s painted on the teeth and 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, but remember to use the right amount. Follow 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 for two minutes, two times a day, reaching all teeth.

 

Dental Sealants

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. The Ohio Department of Health 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 BCFHS@odh.ohio.gov for more information.

 

Page Updated: 2/2/2018