February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). This month is dedicated by the ADA to promote dental education in children.
We should be doing this all year, but February is extra special, because the ADA releases promotional education material, like posters, books, and games.
This year, the slogan for NCDHM is “Sugar Wars.” The books and posters use child-friendly characters, like the Smileys, McGrinns, and K9 to fight against the Sweet Tooth invaders.
In America, children miss over 51 million school hours in year, due to dental disease. The sad truth is that a lot of children don’t receive proper dental care. In American children, tooth decay is the most widespread chronic illness. There’s a reason you hear about more children having cavities than adults.
Kids eat a lot of sugary and processed foods. They don’t understand that it’s not okay to drink soda at every meal. Most children aren’t overly concerned with brushing and flossing, nor do they have the know-how or dexterity to brush and floss correctly.
The majority of kids aren’t concerned by the consequences of poor oral health. They’d rather be playing angry birds on the iPad, playing hide ‘n go seek outside, or building box forts.
Another reason kids are more susceptible to tooth decay is that their teeth are smaller. When it comes to enamel erosion, acid has less surface area to cover on their little baby teeth.
Today, in honor of NCDHM, we’re going to talk about some tips to get your kids involved in their dental health, so they won’t miss any school days.
Don’t Ignore Baby Teeth
A lot of the time parents let the health of their children’s baby teeth fall by the wayside. There’s a misconception that baby teeth don’t matter, because they’ll lose them anyways. However, the truth is that the dental health of your children’s baby teeth influence their dental health as an adult.
Studies show that children with cavities and dental decay in their primary teeth are more likely to have tooth decay as an adult. As a child, tooth decay sets the stage for poor gum health, which can attack their underlying permanent teeth. When children loose baby teeth prematurely to tooth decay, it can negatively impact their speech development and make it harder for them to chew and digest food.
Teaching your children correct dental health techniques at a young age engrains good dental health in their little brains, which will follow them into adulthood.
Dental Health for Children
Getting children excited about brushing and flossing their teeth will take some creativity. Dental decay doesn’t happen in a day. With healthy dental habits, you can help your children win the sugar wars. Here are some techniques you can use to get your kids stoked about their dental health:
- Show them how cavities work. A lot of times we tell our kids to brush and floss their teeth. When little Timmy says, “why? I don’t wanna!” We say, “so you won’t get cavities, little Timmy.” The truth is that little Timmy probably doesn’t understand what a cavity does, and why he’s trying to avoid them. One way you can show your kid the detrimental effects of cavities is by doing a tangible experiment.Poke a hole in an apple and continue to check on it throughout the week, drawing attention to the way it turns brown and mushy. Make sure that you tell your kid that when their teeth get cavities, it’s just like the hole in the apple. Your child will most likely be so mortified by the idea of their teeth becoming rotting apples that they’ll sprint to brush their teeth at night.
- Show them how to floss. If flossing as an adult is hard, imagine how hard it is for your child to get in the habit of flossing. Flossing is a dental health habit that should be instilled at young as possible. Much like the apple experiment, you can show your child the importance of flossing by showing how it works on a larger object.Take a large Lego block and put play dough in the creases. Then, use a large string to help remove the play dough from the blocks. Use proper flossing motions, explaining that the play dough is like food trapped in their gums, and if the food isn’t removed the germ bugs will eat away their teeth like the hole in the apple. You can also show them the fun in flossing by getting them kid friendly flossers, like the DenTek dinosaur flossers.
- Get your children excited about the ritual of brushing. Kids are impressionable. They often want to be just like the adults in their life. There’s a lot of truth behind the idiom, “monkey see, monkey do.” Get your children into brushing by turning it into an exciting activity that you do together. Turn it into a fun activity and get creative. Make up song and dances that turn it more into a special bonding activity and less of a chore. During your time brushing together, you should make sure that they’re brushing long enough and with proper techniques.
There are a lot of different techniques you can use to get your kid excited about their dental health. One of the vital ways to make sure their teeth stay in tip-top shape is by taking them to their bi-yearly dental appointments.