Give Your Children a Healthy Smile this Fall

More than 60 percent of school-age children do not see a dentist each year. Meanwhile, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. Tooth decay can impair a child’s ability to eat, learn, sleep and speak.

Back-to-school time each fall is a great time to add good oral hygiene habits to your child’s routine. More than 1 million school days are lost each year because of tooth pain.

Last month we offered some tips for incorporating good dental habits into each school day. This month, here are some frequently asked questions about your child’s dental care:

Q: At what age should my child begin seeing a dentist?
A: A child should see the dentist at six months or when the first tooth comes in. We want to see them before any problems begin.

Q: How can I help my children keep their teeth clean while at school?
A: Your child can’t brush after lunch, so pack items to help keep teeth clean. Avoid sugary acidic drinks, such as juice and soda, and sticky or chewy foods. Fruit, vegetables and cheese are great natural teeth cleaners. Also remind your children to sip water after a meal to help rinse teeth.

Q: What signs should I watch for to warn me about my child’s dental health?
A: Watch for bleeding gums during brushing. It’s a sign they’re not brushing well. Yellow teeth are also a sign of poor brushing. And if you see any holes or spots, it could be a cavity.

Q: Does my child really need to come twice a year?
A: Usually, yes. The years children are in school are the years they lose baby teeth and get their permanent teeth; it’s the most important time to see a dentist. Those two check-ups each year can prevent tooth decay and instill good teeth habits in your children for years to come. In some cases, children can visit the dentist once a year, but other children should visit every three months. It’s best to discuss this with your dentist.

Q: What is fluoride and why do children need these treatments?
A: Fluoride can help prevent and reverse tooth decay by making teeth stronger. Some communities put fluoride in the water supply. Regardless, your dentist may recommend these treatments to strengthen teeth during childhood years.

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