A healthy mouth is important for overall wellbeing. Poor oral health during childhood can cause problems with eating, speaking, and learning. Cavities can cause children pain and serious health problems. Each year, more than 51 million school hours are missed due to dental problems. Tooth decay is five times more common than asthma in children. Fortunately, it’s preventable!
Children’s Dental Health Month is celebrated nationally. For recognizing this month Maryland Office of Oral Health’s website, http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/oralhealth, provides games to test your dental knowledge. This website provides other links to additional dental educational materials including a request form to order bulk quantities of free oral health materials, assistance in obtaining children’s Medicaid dental health insurance (Maryland Healthy Smiles Dental Program), and information on how to find public dental services.
There are several tips for preventing tooth decay in children. They include:
- Schedule a child’s first dental visit when his or her first tooth appears, or by the first birthday.
- Provide children with healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables and avoid sugary foods and drinks. Give them water to drink between meals. (Sip all day get decay.)
- Always apply a small amount of fluoride toothpaste and brush teeth twice a day. Children require brushing supervision until seven to eight years of age.
- Ask your dentist about the need for fluoride supplements.
- Check with your local health department or water board to have your water tested to determine the amount of fluoride in your water. If it is too low to prevent tooth decay, ask your dentist or physician about fluoride tablets or drops.
- Ask your dentist when dental sealants can be applied to your child’s permanent molars.
- Start flossing teeth when they touch.
For additional tips and resources visit the following websites.
www.healthyteethhealthykids.org/– Maryland Dental Action Coalition
www.mouthhealthykids.org – American Dental Association
www.mouthhealthy.org – American Dental Association
www.mchoralhealth.org – Maternal & Child Health Oral Health Resource Center