February Marks National Children Dental Health Month

boy poking head out from around the corner

JOHNS CREEK, GA– There’s more to February than heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and candies from your valentine. Did you know February is also National Children’s Dental Health Month? To properly mark the occasion, let’s discuss the best ways parents can give their children the gift of good dental health.

Start early. It’s never too early for good oral hygiene. No teeth? No excuse. If your infant has yet to sprout his/her first tooth, tenderly wipe the gums with a damp washcloth after feedings to remove residue and bacteria. As teeth begin to grow in, gently brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized dollop of children’s toothpaste. Be sure to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist no later than six months after the first tooth erupts, or by their first birthday as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The pediatric dentist can tell you when you’ll be able to switch your child to a fluoride toothpaste and what types of food or drinks to avoid.

Teach good oral hygiene habits. If you make good oral hygiene a priority, your child will follow suit. At about age 3, begin teaching good brushing habits. Show your child how you brush and make dental hygiene routines fun by rewarding him/her with a sticker or a smile-friendly treat once teeth are clean. Dr. Nanna Ariaban believes instilling a good foundation of proper at-home dental care is significant. Though it may seem obvious, many people don’t brush as thoroughly as or as long as they should. It’s easier to learn good habits than to unlearn bad ones, so make sure you teach your child the right way to brush and floss early on.

“Parents play a vital role in teaching children the importance of maintaining good oral health. Habits acquired in childhood tend to stick.” says Dr. Nanna, a pediatric dentist in Johns Creek. “I encourage parents to lead by example by making brushing and flossing a fun family activity.”

Stock up on tooth-friendly snacks. When snack time arrives, avoid serving food high in sugars and starches. These substances promote the growth of oral bacteria and increase the risk of cavities. Instead, opt for vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables that stimulate saliva production and help loosen wedged plaque. We suggest sliced apples, celery, strawberries or kiwi. Cheese snacks are another great option. Avoid sugary drinks and pair these foods with a nice glass of enamel-fortifying milk or water.

Protect your teeth. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many dental emergencies occur every year. When playing extreme contact sports, wear a helmet and mouth guard. Not only will this equipment protect your child’s teeth during sports season, they will keep the head and jaw safe! Don’t try to bite into hard objects or open containers with the teeth as this could easily lead to a chipped tooth.

Don’t skip appointments. Parenthood is hectic and unpredictable, but it’s important to make time for dental appointments. There’s no substitute for regular preventive care two to four times each year from a dentist. At our office, professionally trained hygienists remove stubborn tartar and plaque that lead to disease, and Dr. Nanna thoroughly inspects teeth and gums for developing problems. Fluoride treatments, which strengthen the teeth’s protective enamel layer, are also administered. Pediatric dentists like Dr. Nanna are equipped to address the unique challenges associated with growing smiles and young patients. An added benefit, routine exposure to the dentist’s chair helps ease anxieties about dental work as a child and as an adult.

Our friendly staff at Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry encourage parents to make their child’s dental health a priority not just during National Children’s Dental Health Month, but throughout the entire year. During your visit with us, we’ll provide you and your child with helpful tips on how to achieve and maintain a strong, healthy smile. We look forward to seeing you!

Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry is your trusted source for professional cleanings, sealants, dental restorations and more in the Johns Creek, Alpharetta and Roswell areas.

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