Though big holidays and celebrations like Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day and Mardi Gras occur in the month of February, one of the most important events goes on all month long: National Children’s Dental Health Month.
One of the best things you can do for your children is to give them a good foundation on which to build a lifetime of healthy smiles. In addition to the basics, such as making sure they brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once daily, here are a few other tips to ensure that the foundation you’re building will be a lasting one.
Keep healthy foods on hand.
Eating healthy will go a long way toward a sparkling smile. Snacks with calcium – cheese and yogurt, for example – help build strong bones and teeth.1 Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so look for milk and cereal that have been fortified with it. Fatty fish, such as salmon, are also good sources of vitamin D.2 And, of course, you should minimize how much sugar and soda your kids consume.
As your children start to participate in sports, it’s important to have them fitted for mouthguards. Young athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to injure their teeth compared to those who do protect their mouths.3 Whether it’s a simple boil-and-bite mouthguard purchased at a store or a custom-fit model made by the dentist, mouthguards protect teeth and soft mouth tissues from injuries during sports like football, basketball, baseball, volleyball and skateboarding – just to name a few.3
If your child is at higher risk for getting tooth decay (the best predictor: any previous fillings), you should talk to your dentist about putting sealants on their molar teeth. The reason: This thin, plastic coating helps protect teeth from bacteria, especially down in the pits and grooves of teeth. If bacteria can’t get through, decay can’t form, effectively preventing cavities. And it takes just a few minutes per tooth to provide this protection.4 Sealants are most effective when placed on permanent molar teeth shortly after they erupt into the mouth (ages 6 to 9 for first molars and 10 to 14 years old for second molars). Studies show that sealants can prevent about 75 percent of decay from occurring. If your child doesn’t have sealants on his or her permanent molar teeth, discuss this simple procedure with your dentist. You should also check your dental benefits information to see if your plan covers sealants.
While you’re celebrating some of the other major holidays this month, don’t forget to consider some of these tips – and take time to appreciate your children’s healthy smiles!