Good Habits for Great Smiles Posted on February 19, 2021 in Kid's Health February is Children’s Dental Health Month, and a great time to remind everyone of the ways that the children in your life can learn good dental health habits. Starting these good habits at an early age can make it easier to develop a lifetime of healthy smiles. There are a variety of steps you can take daily, yearly and as needed, to keep your children’s smile bright throughout the year! Talk to your dentist about how to adapt these suggestions based on your child’s age and oral health. Daily: Encourage your child to brush for two minutes, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. TIP: Set a good example for your child by following these daily dental health suggestions – children will follow your lead! Help them floss daily with dental floss or another interdental cleaner. Provide a variety of fruits and vegetables to eat, while avoiding sugary, sticky foods and snacks. TIP: Precut fruits and veggies make it easier to provide grab and go snacks for your child. Ensure they drink plenty of water, avoid fruit juices and sports drinks which often contain high amounts of sugar that worsen oral health. Every 3 months: Replace toothbrushes to ensure the bristles are germ and bacteria free and are not damaged. Medical and dental providers suggest replacing toothbrushes after you’ve been sick as well. TIP: Consider a toothbrush for your child with a two-minute timer to help your child know how long to brush. Every 6 months: Schedule and make sure your child attends their dental appointments. These appointments should start by age 1 or when their first tooth appears. Going to the dentist is safe, especially with the additional investments dental offices have recently made in protective equipment, ventilation systems and disinfecting routines. TIP: Taking your child to the dentist regularly sets up a consistent checkpoint to spot any issues and helps you avoid emergencies and time away from work. Annually: Parents and guardians should review their dental insurance policy to ensure their coverage is adequate. If you anticipate that your child will need any dental work beyond regular cleanings and exams, such as fillings, extractions, or braces, you may be able to increase your coverage for additional needs. Dental insurance is affordable and a great investment for your child’s overall health. Learn more about dental insurance coverage with Delta Dental of Iowa. TIP: Check the Delta Dental website for a quote that meets your family’s needs. As needed: Sealants: The grooves of our teeth can be hard to keep clean even with good dental habits of brushing and flossing. Over time, these attacks may cause tooth decay, or cavities. The good news is that dental sealants can protect teeth and prevent cavities. Sealants are most often applied for children and teenagers since tooth decay can start soon after teeth come in. Sealants are quick and easy to apply without causing pain, cost less than a filling and they have proven to prevent tooth decay. By preventing cavities, this may save you money, pain and time away from school and work Mouth guards: If your child is active in contact sports or other activities that might lead to injury of the mouth, teeth or jaw, consider purchasing a mouth guard. These can be custom fitted by your dentist or you can purchase a “boil and bite” mouth guard. An important piece of protective gear, mouth guards, might save your child tremendous pain and potentially long-term damage in the event of a collision or accident. TIP: Not sure if your child needs a mouth guard for their activity? Ask your dentist what they recommend. Whether it’s an organized sport like soccer or basketball, or a fun activity like skateboarding or rollerblading, chances are they would benefit from guarding their grins. Night guards/Grind guards: After the events of 2020, dentists have noticed an uptick in both children and adults grinding their teeth and/or clenching their jaw, also called bruxism. If you notice that your child is complaining about jaw or facial pain, headaches and tooth pain, talk to your dentist at their next checkup about a grind guard. It’s never too late to start implementing these steps to better dental health for your child. With daily care and preventive action, you can help them reach adulthood with a healthy smile.