JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
This February marks the American Dental Association’s 36th annual National Children’s Dental Health Month. Dental professionals across the nation are coming together to promote oral health to our nation’s youth. Members of the dental community are also reaching out and educating teachers and parents on the importance of establishing good oral habits and hygiene.
The ADA recommends all children receive their first dental exam by their first birthday. In addition to looking at your child’s teeth, the dentist will also evaluate their cheeks, gums and tongue among other structures.
Your child may have only a few teeth by his first birthday and that’s OK. The first visit gets children familiar and comfortable with a dental office while giving parents important information regarding their child’s teeth and oral hygiene.
Do you have a difficult time brushing your child’s teeth? Join the club! Dentists will be more than happy to share their knowledge with you.
First of all, start early! Parents should start brushing their child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. By doing so, your child will become familiar with the toothbrush and more readily accept the routine. You can use a children’s toothbrush or a soft wet towel for infants. Some young children like holding their own toothbrush while their parents work inside with another.
By age 7, most children have developed the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth. However, that does not mean they will do a great job of brushing yet. Parents should supervise and help with the back teeth. Mom and dad are still in charge.
No matter who is doing the brushing, try to make it fun! Sing a song while you brush, or buy a toothbrush with your child’s favorite cartoon character on it. Some young ones enjoy timing themselves while they brush.
Children under the age of three will only need a small smear of toothpaste on their toothbrush. A pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for children over three. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day. This will help prevent dental plaque and tartar from growing on their teeth.
While fluoridated toothpaste is beneficial to oral health, if swallowed in large quantities it can be harmful to young children. Keep all toothpaste safely out of reach, especially if it tastes good.
While hygiene is important to the prevention of dental decay, so is your child’s diet. Snacking should be healthy. Replace refined sugar and simple carbohydrates with whole grains, fruits and cheeses.
Furthermore, never put babies to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. Frequent sipping on any sugary or non-water substance can quickly lead to cavities. This includes juices, sports drinks, sodas and teas. Water is always the best beverage choice.
For a limited number of pediatric patients 12 and under, the Dunn Dental Clinic offers walk-in screenings every second Tuesday of the month from 8-10 a.m. For more information, please call 210-671-9836.
To help promote the benefits of good oral health, the 59th Dental Group is sponsoring outreach events at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Elementary School and the child development centers in February. Both 59th Medical Wing dental clinics at JBSA will also be providing free preventive dental services for uninsured military children during “Give Kids A Smile Day” events. For more information, click HERE.