During the month of February, the American Dental Association (ADA) celebrated National Children’s Dental Health. It is important as parents, we think about the food our children eat and how it could affect their teeth over the years.
Baby bottle tooth decay or nursing mouth syndrome has a strong effect on the development of your child’s teeth. Many items, such as fruit juice, milk, and even formula all have sugars, which can be harmful over a period of time. However, it is important to encourage your child to drink from an actual cup by their first birthday. This will help lower the risk of your child having any signs of tooth decay.
Training cups, called sippy or tippy cups, are similar to a baby bottle because your child is still able to suck from the cup. This leads to small amount of sugar left on the teeth, which can grow bacteria on or around the teeth. So, it is important to have your child drinking from a sippy cup only for a limited time.
Here are a few tips to help lower the risk of your child having tooth decay:
* If your child drinks from a sippy cup, buy a cup that uses a straw. The straw allows the liquids minimal contact with teeth, lowering chances of developing dental problems.
* If your child sleeps with a bottle at night, fill the bottle with water.
* When your child’s teeth start to come in, brush their teeth with a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste.
* Make sure your child gets their “well baby checkups” as recommended by your provider.
* During the oral health exam of a well-child check-up, fluoride varnish is placed on your baby’s teeth (beginning with the first tooth coming in until 35 months of age), which will help decrease the dental decay of baby and possibly adult teeth. Dental sealants are also provided through the Children’s Health Clinic at Scotland County Health Department.
National Children’s Dental Health Month messages and materials have reached millions of people in communities across the country. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Whether you’re a member of a dental team, a teacher or a parent, the ADA has free online resources that can help you with ideas for the classroom and coloring and activity sheets that can be used as learning tools for children.
For more information on Scotland County Health Department’s Child Health Clinic and services, good nutrition habits or children’s dental health, please contact Cindy Warwick, RDH, Maria Roberts, RN, BSN, Child Health Coordinator or Kathie Cox, Health Educator, Scotland County Health Department at 910-277-2440, or visit the American Dental Association website.
This month Public Health Matters column was written by Julia Harmon, an intern from The university of North Carolina at Pembroke. Kathie Cox, is the Health Educator II/PIO at the Scotland County Health Department.