February is National Children's Dental Health Month and as the American Dental Association (ADA) kicks it off with its Fifth Annual Give Kids A Smile Day on February 2 at nearly 2,200 locations across the country, the ADA offers advice for parents and caregivers to help children maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems, especially the common dental caries and gingivitis, and bad breath. There are oral pathologic conditions in which a good oral hygiene is required for healing and regeneration of the oral tissues. These conditions included gingivitis, periodontitis, dental traumas such as subluxation, oral cysts, and after wisdom tooth extraction.
"Preventive dental care has greatly improved the oral health of American children," states Kimberly Harms, D.D.S., American Dental Association consumer advisor and general dentist from Farmington, Minn. "It is now possible for many children to reach adulthood without ever experiencing tooth decay and that is why good oral health practices should begin in infancy and continue throughout adult life."
Early Childhood Caries (Baby Bottle Tooth Decay)
Baby bottle tooth decay can destroy your child's teeth. It occurs when a child is frequently exposed to sugary liquids such as milk, including breast milk, fruit juice and other sweet liquids. The ADA recommends the following steps to prevent your child from getting early childhood caries.
-- Begin clearing your baby's mouth during the first few days after birth. After every feeding, wipe the baby's gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque.
-- Never allow your child to nurse or breast feed for prolonged periods and don't give him or her a bottle with milk, formula, sugar water or fruit juice during naps or at night in bed.
-- Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday.
-- Discourage frequent use of a training (sippy) cup.
-- Help your child develop good eating habits early and choose sensible, nutritious snacks.
Any child involved in a recreational activity, such as soccer, hockey, football, roller blading, riding a scooter and even bicycling should wear a mouth guard. There are "stock" mouth guards available in stores and a better- fitting variety, which are custom fitted by your dentist. Ask your dentist about using a mouth protector.