Thoughtful Parenting: February National Children’s Dental Health Month | SteamboatToday.com

Thoughtful Parenting: February National Children’s Dental Health Month

Ivy Beville/For Steamboat Today

Thoughtful Parenting First Impressions

Did you know that cavities are the most common childhood disease? Cavities in children are five times more common than asthma. An unhealthy mouth can mean lost time at school and work for families. The good news is that cavities are almost 100 percent preventable. A healthy mouth is important to a child's growth and development. Following are a few things parents can do to keep their child's mouth healthy.

Infants

• Wipe the inside of your baby's mouth after each feeding with a warm washcloth.

• Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. To soothe a fussy baby, try a blanket, warm bath or rocking them to sleep.

• Do not use your mouth to clean pacifiers or bottles; this can spread germs that cause cavities. Use soapy water instead.

• Take your baby the first dental check-up no later than his or her first birthday.

Toddlers

• Brush your toddler's teeth twice per day using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. Sing a song during brushing time to make it more enjoyable.

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• Limit juice to 4 ounces per day, and avoid other sugary drinks. Get your child used to drinking water.

• Serve tooth-healthy snacks, such as crunchy fruits and vegetables, along with cheese and nuts.

• Avoid sharing forks, spoons, and cups with your toddler. This can spread bacteria that cause cavities.

• Take your toddler for a dental check up every 6 months to help get them used to visiting the dentist.

Children

• Take time to show your child how to brush and floss. Model positive behavior by brushing and flossing with your child. Watch as they brush, and offer assistance.

• Avoid letting your child snack all day. Limit snack time, and make sure to serve tooth-healthy foods.

• If your child plays sports, make sure he or she is wearing a mouth guard for protection.

• Dental sealants are a protective coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back (molar) teeth and can greatly reduce the risk of cavities. Dental sealants are usually applied to 6-year and 12-year molars. Dental sealants are painless, quick and easy to apply. Ask your dentist if your child is ready for dental sealants.

• Take your child for a dental check up every 6 months.

Good oral health habits introduced early will last a lifetime. Health First Colorado provides dental benefits for enrolled and eligible adults and children. DentaQuest administers dental benefits on behalf of Health First Colorado. If you would like more information on Health First Colorado dental benefits or need help finding a dental provider, call the Health First Colorado Member Services line at 855-225-1729 TTY: 711

Ivy Beville, RDH, is DentaQuest outreach and education representative with Health First Colorado. Contact her at 970-250-1786 or ivy.beville@dentaquest.com. Visit DentaQuest's website at dentaquest.com/colorado.