February is National children’s dental health month. This month thousands of dentists and hygienists go to classrooms across the country to speak about the importance of dental hygiene. The American Dental Association and dentist all over also celebrate Give Kids a Smile Day by providing free oral health care to children.
According to the office of the Surgeon General, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related conditions, and more than 50% of children will be affected by tooth decay before age five. Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable and it starts with creating healthy habits young.
There are many ways to share dental hygiene habits with your children, start by explaining to them why we brush our teeth, let them watch you brush & floss, and help them brush & floss in the morning and before bed. Establishing this routine will help to set up lifelong habits. Always remember to follow the 2-2-2 rule: visit your dentist TWO times a year, brush and floss TWO times a day for TWO whole minutes.
Establishing good dental health practices shouldn’t be limited to at home hours. Providers can help children establish healthy habits too. Try reaching out to a local dentist or hygienist and see if they can come in and talk to the children about why dental health is important. Discuss with children different ways to maintain dental health and good brushing practices.
The National Institutes of Health has several good resources for parents and providers with age-specific guides to common dental problems and questions.
You can also print out several coloring pages & activities related to dental health provided by the American Dental Association in honor of Dental Health Month.