Oral care is a huge part of a child’s overall health. We all know how hard it can be to get our kids to brush their teeth, but as a dentist, trust me, it’s worth it. Children are stinkers about brushing, which can lead to bad breath and tooth/gum issues. A good oral care regime – and enforcing that regime – can help prevent childhood oral health issues and set kids up for a lifetime of healthy gums and teeth. Because February is host to both Valentine’s Day, which is all about chocolate and treats and National Children’s Dental Health Month, it seems like the perfect time to talk about this subject.
*I am a KYOTC ambassador. All my opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources.*
Most people think that oral care is all about making sure the kids have fresh breath, but it’s so much more than that. As a dentist, I see kids who already have inflamed gums and bad teeth on top of bad breath. It’s rare to see a bad case, but the most common thing I get is cavities. Lots of cavities. In fact, the CDC says that at least 20% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth. That’s unsurprising considering that decaying teeth are the most common chronic disease in kids aged 6 to 11 and and adolescents aged 12 to 19.
Taking care of the mouth is so much more than even that, however. When a person has a bad mouth, bacteria can enter their bloodstream through inflamed gums and actually cause damage to internal organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. Of course, that takes a considerable amount of time, so getting the kids into good oral care habits now actually keeps them healthier overall for the rest of their lives.
And in this month of all the various heat shaped candy and treats, there couldn’t be a better time to really make sure those good oral care habits are locked down tight. All that sugar isn’t doing the kiddos’ teeth any favors (or yours, if you’re a candy thieving parent).
Practicing Good Oral Care
We want our kids’ mouths to be fresh of course, but we also want them to be healthy. Practicing good oral care keeps their mouths sparkly fresh and improves their whole body health. Here are some tips on making sure the kids’ oral care is on point.
- Use toothpaste containing fluoride to help strengthen and protect teeth
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a smear of fluoridated toothpaste for brushing baby’s teeth as they come in
- Children 6 and under should brush with a pea sized amount of toothpaste. Supervise them to be sure they brush properly and swallow as little toothpaste as possible
- Help children brush their teeth until around age 8 when you can be sure they’ve got it down pat
Good Oral Care Makes for Good Health
As a dentist, I am a huge advocate for good oral care. When people take care of their teeth, they look better and they are definitely more healthy, so start the kids young for a lifetime of better health. And visit the KnowYourOTCs site for information on fluoride ingredients. Knowledge is power, as they say.