February is National Children’s Dental Health Month
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month! Did you know that your kids’ teeth are already forming while still in the womb? If you start taking care of their dental health now, they’ll have healthy smiles for life! But before we talk about how to keep your children’s teeth healthy, let’s focus on the things that cause tooth decay.
Gums Come First
Your child’s teeth are forming in their gums before you even know they have teeth. A child’s teeth develop at about six months of age and eventually erupt into baby teeth.
The order in which each tooth erupts is almost identical for every person: incisors first, then canines and premolars, followed by molars. A few teeth may come through early or late depending on how well-formed they were when growing out of the gums (called hereditary factors), but most of them stay on schedule. The average time for primary teeth to erupt fully is 12 months; permanent teeth typically start growing between ages 10 and 15.
Sugary Drinks Are a Big Problem
Some sugar sticks to your teeth when you drink sugary liquids. The bacteria in plaque on your teeth then break down that sugar into acids that eat away at your teeth.
Sugary drinks can lead to tooth decay. It’s why it’s essential not only to limit how often we drink them but also how much we consume. Kids aged 2-6 should limit their sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks by having less than one serving daily. Kids under two should avoid sugary beverages altogether.
Get Enough Calcium
Calcium is an essential nutrient for growing children. It helps their bodies build and maintain strong bones and teeth, which will help them later in life by reducing the risk of developing rickets or osteoporosis.
There are many calcium sources in foods— dairy products, dark green vegetables like broccoli, legumes such as beans and lentils, nuts, and seeds. Children need more calcium than adults: they should get at least 1,000 milligrams a day (this amount can vary depending on age). If your child doesn’t get enough calcium through their diet, you may want to consider giving them supplements (talk with your doctor about this).
Healthy Habits Start at Home
Healthy habits start at home, so keep meals and snacks healthy for your kids’ sake and yours!
Bad habits are contagious. Children are quick learners and will often mimic the behavior of those around them. If you want your child to develop positive dental health habits, set a good example by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing regularly, and scheduling regular checkups with their dentist. Suppose a bad habit is allowed to become rooted in your child’s life. In that case, it can cause serious health problems later in life, so pay attention to what they are eating and limit their intake of sugary foods such as candy or soda pop that may contribute to tooth decay over time.
Healthy eating habits are important for your kids but also good for you. It helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and cavities for the whole family! Some healthy habits to try are:
- Keep snacks healthy by choosing fruits and veggies instead of cookies or chips. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks that stick to teeth, like hard candy and sticky gummy bears.
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If you have young children, make brushing fun by using their favorite flavorings in the toothpaste (strawberry is always tasty!).
Make Dentist Visits a Priority
Above all else, regular cleanings and checkups will ensure optimal oral health and catch cavities, gingivitis, and more before they become severe problems. We hope you enjoy National Children’s Dental Health Month with your family. If you have any questions about how to keep your kids’ teeth healthy, be sure to ask your dentist!