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The Importance of Oral Hygiene: February is Oral Hygiene Month

girl at the dentistFebruary is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so it’s the perfect time for teaching your children the good oral habits that will lay the groundwork for a lifetime of proper care.

Why is oral hygiene important for children?

Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable, but it’s the most common chronic disease in children. Many more kids have tooth decay than asthma, hay fever, and other common chronic illnesses, and it can cause them to miss time at school due to pain. The good news is that the risk of tooth decay is greatly reduced with proper at-home oral care and routine dental visits.

In addition, although your child will eventually lose their baby teeth, it’s still important to take care of these temporary teeth. They help your child chew, speak, and smile and also hold space for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.

What are some good oral habits to establish for your children?

You can help children do the following to take care of their oral health:

  • Brush early: Brush your child’s teeth twice a day as soon as they start to come in by using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use soft bristles: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, since others may be too abrasive.
  • Replace their toothbrush regularly: Replace your child’s toothbrush at least every 3 to 4 months, inspecting it regularly to make sure it’s not worn.
  • Increase the amount of toothpaste at 3 years old: When your child is 3 to 6 years old, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Continue to monitor: Even when your child starts to brush on their own, continue to monitor their thoroughness.
  • Emphasize flossing: Your child’s teeth should be flossed once a day when they have tooth surfaces that are next to each other.
  • Make oral care fun: Allow your child to choose their own toothbrush with a fun character and an appealing flavor of toothpaste. You can also play their favorite song while they brush.
  • Limit sugary foods and beverages: Foods and beverages with high sugar content can create a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Choose a pediatric dentist: A pediatric dentist has additional training in children’s oral health and is accustomed to making young patients feel at ease.
  • Schedule regular dental visits: Your child should see the dentist within six months after their first tooth but not later than their first birthday. Their dentist can then set up a schedule of visits that suits their needs.
  • Ask your child’s dentist about special concerns: From thumb-sucking to whether your child needs sealants to protect their teeth from decay, a dentist can provide information tailored to their specific needs.

Make an appointment today with Park View Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics in NYC to help your child get started on a lifetime of good dental care. Our entire staff will make you both feel welcome and comfortable in our child-friendly, activity-filled office.

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