National Children’s Dental Health Month is celebrated each February to raise awareness about the importance of oral health among America’s kids. Developing good habits at an early age and making regular dental visits can help children to have healthy teeth and gums and potentially prevent a lifetime of other diseases that are associated with poor oral health. According to the American Dental Association, there are a number of basic steps you can take to promote good oral health and prevent tooth decay.
To help reduce your children’s risk of tooth decay, keep these facts in mind:
Sugary foods and drinks should be consumed with meals. Saliva production increases during meals and helps neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth.
Limit between-meal snacks. If kids crave a snack, offer them nutritious foods.
If your kids chew gum, make it sugarless. Chewing sugarless gum after eating can increase saliva flow and help wash out food and decay-producing acid.
Monitor beverage consumption. Instead of soft drinks all day, children should also consume plenty of water and low-fat milk.
Help your children develop good brushing and flossing habits and set a positive example.
Schedule regular dental check-ups.
This February and throughout 2017, help prevent oral health problems by adopting these and other healthy lifestyle changes. If you’re the parent or relative of children or if you’re otherwise responsible for a child, talk to a dentist or dental hygienist about any risk factors or oral health needs he or she may have.
Missouri’s Community Health Centers provide a full range of dental services and are open to all residents, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Check out the Missouri Primary Care Association website to find a Community Health Center near you.