Children's Oral Health

Did you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? A healthy smile in your child means much more than just white teeth. Oral health is important because it can show how healthy a person is all over. Here are some facts about oral health in children:

* Did you know that dental disease is 5 times more common than asthma, a common breathing problem?

* Did you know that children with decay can have problems with eating, talking, sleeping and learning in school?

* Did you know that having decay can make a child very sick and delay growth?

* Did you know that we have learned that poor oral health can lead to heart problems, stroke, lung problems, and diabetes problems?

Having problems in your mouth effects more than just your mouth. It affects your entire body. This is why good oral health is so important. Here are some tips to keep your child’s mouth healthy:

1. Start cleaning teeth early

As soon as the first tooth appears, begin cleaning by wiping with a clean, damp cloth every day. When more teeth come in, switch to a small, soft toothbrush. Begin using toothpaste with fluoride when the child is 2 years old. Use toothpaste with fluoride earlier if your child’s doctor or dentist recommends it.

2. Use the right amount of fluoride toothpaste. 

Fluoride is important for fighting cavities. But if children younger than 6 years old swallow too much fluoride, their adult teeth may have white spots. To keep this from happening, use only a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a pea). Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste and to rinse well with water after brushing.

3. Watch them brush.  Brush your child’s teeth twice a day until your child has the skill to handle the toothbrush alone. Then continue to closely watch brushing to make sure the child is doing a good job and using only a small amount of toothpaste.

4. Talk to your child’s doctor or dentist. 

Check with the doctor or dentist about your child’s fluoride needs. After age 2, most children get the right amount of fluoride to help prevent cavities if they drink water that contains fluoride and brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Parents of children older than 6 months should ask about the need for a fluoride supplement if drinking water does not have enough fluoride. Do not let a child younger than 6 years old use a fluoride mouth rinse unless the child’s doctor or dentist says that it is ok.

Remember, early care for your children’s teeth will protect their smile and their health.

For more information on Childhood Oral Health, visit the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation at: www.ncohf.org. Or call Four Corners Health Department at (402) 362-2621 or toll free 877-337-3573. Or send email to info@fourcorners.ne.gov. Visit our new website at www.fourcorners.ne.gov.