National Children’s Dental Health Month: Taking care of children’s teeth

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four articles and commentaries in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Top 10 things parents can do to care for their child’s teeth

10)Institute good eating habits – Every time a person eats or drinks, the environment in the mouth becomes more acidic. This assault can lead to demineralization of the enamel on teeth, and gives cavities an advantage.

9)Make sure your child drinks plenty of water – Start early by limiting the amount of sugary drinks and replacing it with water.  One fifth of 1 to 2 year-old children consume soft drinks. Carbonated drinks are the single biggest source of refined sugars in the American diet. Tooth enamel and soda pop is a dangerous combination.
8)Supervise your child’s oral hygiene – Children do not have manual dexterity to properly clean their teeth and gums until they are about 11-years old. Researchers say when a child can write in cursive is when they are capable of an adequate job brushing. Check the job they are doing, and point out to them areas they are missing. Give them a handful of Cheetos and then tell them to brush, you’ll see where they are missing!

7)Make sure your child is getting the right amount of fluoride – Fluoride is a mineral which, when used in small amounts on a routine basis, helps prevent tooth decay.  When ingested it helps form healthy teeth while they are developing. When used topically, it promotes strengthening on weak areas of the teeth protecting teeth from decay.  Topical Fluoride can be found in toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels, varnish and supplements.   Fluoride is effective when combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene. Consult a pediatric dentist to ensure your child is receiving an adequate amount of fluoride.

***image1***6)Make sure your child sees a dentist once a year – A dentist will help with oral hygiene instruction, topical fluoride application, and any questions about taking care of you child’s oral health. The current recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists is that a child should be seen by a dentist by the eruption of their first tooth.         

5)Be a good example –The saying is true “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.”  Instill children with the importance of good oral hygiene. They’ll be more inclined to brush and floss if they see that it’s a routine with parents.  

4)Have the right tools – It’s recommended that for healthy gums and teeth that children use a soft bristle toothbrush and angle the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle toward the gums and brush in a circular motion, almost like you’re massaging the teeth and gums.  Use a very small amount of tooth paste on your brush, about the size of a pea. It’s very abrasive and can wear away enamel and gums if used with too much force. Replace the toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.

3)Make it fun – Put a song on and tell your child they have to brush until the completion of the song. Make the little ones count each tooth as they brush and to get every surface clean – tops, cheek side and tongue side.  Stress the correct form in which they brush.

2)Floss only the teeth you want to keep – It’s like taking a shower and not washing your legs. If you’re only brushing your teeth and not flossing, you are neglecting about 40 percent of the tooth.

1)Brush your child’s teeth – Above all else, this remains the best way to remove plaque and maintain your child’s oral health.

For more information, contact the Pulaski Dental Clinic or the 435th Dental Squadron, Pediatric Dentistry Element at

Health Booth
Ramstein Dental Clinic is sponsoring a dental health booth for children from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Ramstein Base Exchange. Children are welcome to stop by and learn some tips to keep teeth healthy.