5 things parents can do for their child’s teeth

***image1***February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. To mark this occasion, a variety of dental related topics will be discussed throughout the month.  Now, on with the countdown.

1  Institute good eating habits. Every time you eat or drink, the environment in your mouth becomes slightly more acidic. This can lead to demineralization of the enamel on teeth and gives cavities a foothold. Parents should ensure that their children are eating a balanced diet and limit frequency of snacking, which can increase a child’s risk of developing cavities.

2  Make sure your child drinks water. An average can of soda pop contains more than 14 tablespoons of sugar. Carbonated drinks are the single biggest source of refined sugars in the American diet.  Children start drinking soda pop at a remarkably young age and consumption increases through young adulthood. One-fifth of 1- and 2-year-old children consume soft drinks. Toddlers drink an average of seven ounces – nearly one cup − per day.  Parents should limit the amount of soda their children drink.

3   Make sure your child is getting fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral which, when used in small amounts on a routine basis, helps to prevent tooth decay. Most military installations overseas fluoridate the water, depending on the processing source. Fluoride also can be found in many different foods as well as in dental products such as toothpaste and mouth rinses. In communities that do not receive fluoridated water, children should drink fluoridated bottled water and brush with fluoride toothpaste. The Ramstein Dental Clinic does not recommend special fluoride supplements for children since these supplements could result in children receiving too much fluoride, which causes permanent tooth staining.

4  Make sure your child sees a dentist at least once a year. Your dentist will be able to help you with oral hygiene instruction and topical fluoride application. He or she can also answer any questions you might have about taking care of your child’s oral health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that your child be seen by a dentist by age 1, or by the eruption of the first tooth.

5   Brush your child’s teeth. The average child does not have the manual dexterity to properly clean their teeth and gums until they are 11 years old. Even if you do not brush your child’s teeth directly, they still need to be supervised. Check them after they brush and point out areas they are missing. (Courtesy of the 435th Dental Squadron)