February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. All during the month, exciting dental health activities are happening in Wake County Elementary Schools.
- Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Various factors can determine how foods affect a child’s teeth. The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance for tooth decay. How long food remains in the mouth also plays a role. For example: hard candy and breath mints stay in the mouth a long time, which cause longer acid attacks on tooth enamel.
- Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens teeth and protects them from decay. Children who drink fluoridated water from birth have up to 40% fewer cavities than those who don’t. Other sources of fluoride include toothpastes, mouth rinses and fluoride applications in the dental office and prescribed supplements for children. Ask your dentist about how to obtain the right level of fluoride for your child.
- A sealant is a clear material that is applied in the dental office to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where decay occurs most often. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting the decay-prone areas of the back teeth from plaque and acid attacks. Each tooth takes only a few minutes to seal. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. Ask you dentist if your child can benefit from sealants.
- Regular dental visits are crucial to maintaining a healthy smile. Take your child to see a dentist by the first birthday. Although this may seem early to begin dental visits, the dentist can explain how the child’s teeth should be cleaned at home, how diet and eating habits affect teeth and provide methods to ensure your child gets the right amount of fluoride. Regular dental examination and treatment may help prevent or reduce the severity of dental problems. Starting treatment or preventive care at the best time can reduce the overall treatment time, reduce the psychological stress of receiving necessary procedures and result in the best outcome.