February is National Children’s Oral Health Month

Let’s get brushing! February is National Children’s Oral Health Month. Healthy smiles begin with proper home care education. That’s why we’re taking a look at how to keep your child’s smile healthy and bright!

Maintaining Oral Health

Dental caries, commonly know as cavities, is the most prevalent infectious disease affecting children in this country. More than 40% of children will be diagnosed with a cavity by the time they reach kindergarten. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within 6 months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in at around 6 months of age. 

It has also been recognized that in order for children to maintain optimal general health, their oral health must also be well maintained. This involves twice yearly preventative trips to the dentist for examinations and cleanings. 

Home care is also of vital importance and should include flossing and brushing twice daily with a toothpaste containing fluoride. Systemic fluoride intake may need supplementation and can be determined by your child’s dentist. In addition, the dentist may recommend topical fluoride applications, sealants, or other preventative measures, which in combination with excellent home care and a healthy diet will ensure oral health.

Orthodontic Screenings at age 7

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children be screened by an orthodontist starting at the age of 7. 

Not all children will need treatment at that age, however certain skeletal and dental eruption disturbances are best treated between the ages of 7 and 9 while children’s bones and teeth are still developing. These interceptive treatments will most likely be followed by comprehensive orthodontic treatment in adolescence when most if not all of the permanent teeth have erupted.

If the bones and teeth are developing normally, your orthodontist will recommend that your child be screened periodically until they are ready to initiate treatment. 

Protecting Teeth from Trauma

3% of children ranging in age from 5-8 years will experience some form of dental trauma, mostly affecting the front teeth. This number rises to almost 40% when looking at the total population. Many of these traumas are sports related and can be easily prevented. Mouthguards should be worn by all child athletes and the most appropriate type can be recommended by your dentist.

Good Habits Start at Home

Additionally, teeth that are positioned too far forward are more susceptible to trauma. If your child’s upper teeth protrude, consult an orthodontist who may be able to decrease the risk of damage to these teeth by moving them into a more normal position.