Proper dental health starts at an early age and there is no better time to highlight the importance of correct dental care for kids than in February, National Children’s Dental Health month.
Celebrate the month and elevate the importance of brushing and flossing with some fun activities designed to educate youngsters about proper teeth maintenance.
Toothy trivia—While in front of the sink, test your child’s knowledge (and your own) on all things dental with these fun facts:
- Ancient Egyptians even brushed their teeth using a powdery substance made from pulverized eggshells and oxen hooves
- The modern toothbrush was not developed until the 1700s, brushes with nylon bristles and ergonomic handles were developed in the 1930s
- Which animal has the greatest number of teeth – dog, cat, pig or snail? A snail can have between 1000-12,000 teeth!
- An average toothbrush has around 2000 bristles.
- Americans buy more than 14 million gallons of toothpaste every year.
- Teeth start to form before we are born.
- It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile.
- A fossilized T-Rex tooth can weigh up to a pound.
- Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.
Gummy games—Bring a smile to youngsters faces with these fun games sure to encourage proper brushing at an early age:
Toothbrush Tales: Make your child’s toothbrush the star of a goofy, adventure-packed story, but only when a child is brushing. Give the toothbrush a name and a voice and make Toothpaste, Floss or Mouthwash trusty sidekicks and give them a storyline.
Brush Your Body: Take the toothbrush, get in close and tells your child it’s time to brush teeth. But then pretend to scrub the child’s ears / elbows / toes / nose until they say, “No! My teeth, my teeth!” and show you how.
Practice makes perfect: Ask your child to help their favorite stuffy brush their teeth for them. A crocodile stuffed animal makes a great friend to practice on.
Other ideas to help celebrate National Children’s Dental Health month include:
- Buy a bunch of colorful, soft and child-sized toothbrushes, along with a variety of toothpaste flavors, so a child can pick and choose their own dental tools.
- Make up a song to hum to during teeth-brushing time.
- Let your child select a special, fun timer to use only for toothbrush time. Dentists recommend two minutes of brushing.
- If you haven’t introduced your child to the dentist, do so on your next visit. When a child see’s a parent experiencing a good checkup, they are more apt to have a good dental experience themselves.
The trauma of losing a tooth is often softened by a visit from the friendly Tooth Fairy. But how much money left per tooth, though, is purely a parental decision, often dictated by how much cash or coin is on hand.
In Michigan, the average amount the Tooth Fairy left in exchange for a tooth was $3.33; Delaware kids receive an average of $4.46 per visit and kids in Massachusetts only get an average of $2.56 per tooth.
Here are some ideas for all the Tooth Fairies out there:
- Remind children that the tooth fairy won’t be able to visit if their rooms are messy.
- Keep a stack of $2 bills or some silver dollars handy for a unique deposit on dentals.
- Give a special Tooth Fairy pillow or box and have your child begin a tradition of leaving it in a more accessible spot, like hanging from the bedroom door handle.
- Cash strapped? Leave a fun fairy letter complimenting the child on their dental habits.
Children typically begin losing baby teeth at age six. If you have any concerns about your child’s tooth development, contact Dr. Baker at 586-992-9222.
Halloween is a time-honored tradition in the United States, but the potential damage from all those sugary sweets on children’s teeth is downright frightening.
It takes only 20 minutes of a sugary attack on the teeth to lead to cavities. Sugars and starches greatly contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack the tooth enamel and create cavities.
Here are some tips to help keep your little ghoul’s and goblin’s teeth healthy:
- Avoid long-lasting, hard candy (unless it is sugar-free) as these types of treats remain in the mouth for a much longer time, continuously coating tiny teeth with sugar.
- Dole out candy with meals so the sugars are carried away by the saliva generated by eating.
- Sticky candies, like gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
- Sour sweets are highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel.
- Brush your teeth after eating sugary treats.
This Halloween, consider offering teeth-friendly treats like sugar-free gum or lollipops as an alternative. Chewing gum or enjoying a sucker produces saliva, which helps remove cavity-creating acid from teeth.
Is your child participating in a spring sport? Make sure their smile is protected by wearing a mouthguard during both games and practices.
Types of mouthguards:
- Stock or ready-made mouthguards are the least expensive and can be purchased at most sports stores. These mouthguards are pre-formed, so often they don’t fit perfectly.
- Boil-and-bite mouthguards can be molded to fit your child’s mouth by boiling them in water and then biting into the warm plastic. They are available at most sporting goods stores.
- Custom-fitted mouthguards are designed and constructed by your dentist. This type of mouthguard can be more expensive than others, but ensures a perfect fit.
Caring for your mouthguard is simple. Just rinse it under cold water after each use and occasionally clean it with soap and cool water. Since mouthguards can tear or wear out, be sure to replace it after each sporting season.
To learn more about mouthguards and take a fun quiz, visit the American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy website.
Source: American Dental Association
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Start practicing good dental health habits when they are young. Here are a few tips to keep your child’s smile healthy:
- Avoid giving your child sweetened liquids
- Brush your child’s teeth twice a day and floss once a day
- Make sure your child gets enough fluoride
- Start regular dental visits by age 3
- Ask your dentist for advice on sealants and mouth guards
- Keep your dentist informed of any changes in your child’s health
- Set a good example for your child!
Patients often tell me they have a hard time getting their young children to brush their teeth. It doesn’t have to be a battle each time. Here are some ideas to try with your kids:
- Start young. Toddlers love to imitate their parents. Give them a toothbrush and sit with your child on the bathroom floor so he/she can watch you use a toothbrush and try to copy it.
- Have your child brush the teeth of their stuffed animal or doll.
- Make it fun! Sign a song, read a story, turn it into a game.*
- Let your child practice brushing your teeth, while you brush his or hers.
- Have your child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste at the store.
- Children learn from example. If they see that you are taking good care of your teeth they will want to do the same.
*See 7 Toothbrushing Tunes Kids (and Parents) Will Love from the American Dental Association (ADA).
Visiting the dentist can be scary for young children. Ease your child’s fear with these tips:
- The earlier your child visits the dentist, the better. Dr. Baker recommends bringing your child in for his/her first visit around age 3.
- Prepare your child for his/her first visit but don’t give too much information that will encourage questions. Don’t mention fillings or any other treatments, which will cause anxiety.
- Avoid using words like “shot, hurt or pain” when talking about the dentist. Instead use positive words like “clean, strong and healthy.”
- Before your child’s first visit, play dentist with him/her. You be the dentist and have your child be the patient. Count your child’s teeth and brush them with a toothbrush.
- Don’t bribe your child with the promise of a sugary treat after a dentist visit, as it sends the wrong message. Instead, praise your child for good behavior.
- Teach your child the importance of dental health, telling him/her that visiting the dentist is a necessity for maintaining a healthy smile. Set a good example by visiting the dentist regularly yourself.
You know the guidelines: Your kids should brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes to help prevent tooth decay, cavities and promote oral health. But how often do your kids actually brush for the full two minutes? To kids, two minutes can feel like an eternity! Here are some ways to make brushing fun and easy for parents and kids:
- Brush with your child–Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique.
- Set a timer–Electronic timers are readily available, but if you can find a small two minute hourglass timer, even better.
- Cute toothbrushes–Great-looking children’s brushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that’s small enough for your child to hold comfortably, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. Every few months you should replace it—particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush.
- Tasty toothpaste–Use toothpaste made for kids … it’s a safe and non-abrasive version, in mild flavors that kids love.
- Say ahhhhh!–Your child can’t say “ahhh” with his or her mouth closed. As you brush, suggest varying the pitch, tone, and rhythm of the “ahhh” to keep things interesting.
- Bring a friend–At bedtime, invite your child’s favorite stuffed animal into the bathroom to watch the brushing.
- Make a sticker poster–Hang a piece of bright construction paper on the bathroom wall. Each time your child has a thorough brushing, he or she can choose a sticker or star and put it on the poster.
Sources: Orajel and www.sheknows.com