I bet you didn’t know that in addition to Heart Month, February is also National Children’s Dental Health Month! This is a great time to teach your kiddos about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dentist visits can help children stay on track in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Check out the tips below, recommended by Richard Mungo, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist at CHOC Children’s:
- Take your child to the dentist by the time he or she is 12 months old – or as soon as he or she gets his or her first tooth.
- After each feeding, wipe your infants tongue and gums with a wet cloth.
- When the first tooth appears, begin brushing with water, or an appropriate baby toothpaste. Toothpaste with fluoride is not recommended until your child is old enough to spit and swallow the toothpaste – around age 3.
- Come up with, or play, a fun song for your kids while they are brushing their teeth to get them used to brushing for a full 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remind your kids not to eat sugary foods between meals.
- Instruct them on the proper way to floss – Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, using a back and forth motion. Gently bring the floss to the gumline, but don’t force it under the gums. Curve the floss around the edge of your tooth in the shape of the letter “C” and slide it up and down the side of each tooth.
- When brushing, have your kids hold their brush at a 45-degree angle against their gumline. Gently brush from where the tooth and gum meet to the chewing surface in short strokes. Brushing too hard can cause receding gums or tooth sensitivity.
- Lastly, create a calm, positive attitude about going to the dentist. Children can pick up on a parent’s anxiety and associate the dentist with a negative experience.
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