HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- February is National Children's Dental Health Month (NCDHM), an oral health campaign designed to educate children and their parents about the importance of good oral health. Developing proper oral health habits at an early age will last a lifetime and significantly improve a child's overall heath.
Tooth decay affects more than one quarter of children ages two to five, half of those ages 12 to 15 and countless adults in the United States. In fact, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children; five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable.
The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) encourages parents to help their children develop good habits at an early age, including:
- Brush teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Brushing after breakfast and before bedtime is recommended. To help your child brush for the correct amount of time, try setting an egg timer or listening to a song. It is important to brush all tooth surfaces, including the gums, backs of teeth and even the tongue. Talk to your child's dentist about when to begin using a fluoride toothpaste and fluoride supplements if your community's water supply is not fluoridated.
- Floss between teeth at least once a day. Flossing helps remove pieces of food that get stuck between teeth and under gums, reaching places your toothbrush can't.
In addition to brushing and flossing, Dr. Richard Galeone, a pediatric dentist from Lansdale, recommends sealants. "The application of fissure sealants to the teeth can help prevent dental decay. A fissure sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material applied to the pits and grooves of children's teeth," Dr. Galeone said. "They are especially recommended for those children with a history of tooth decay."
- Establish healthy eating habits for your child. Offer a variety of foods from the five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and meat/poultry/fish. Avoid sugary beverages, such as soda, juice and sports drinks, and snacks that contain high amounts of sugar. Each time you eat or drink something with sugar, harmful acids attack your teeth for at least 20 minutes. Repeat attacks can lead to tooth decay.
- Visit the dentist every six months for a checkup and professional cleaning. Regular visits will not only help detect possible dental problems in their early stages, but also will help your child feel more comfortable going to the dentist.
- If your child is involved in any contact sport or recreational activity, he or she should always wear a mouthguard. Examples of contact sports include, but are not limited to, football, field hockey, ice hockey, baseball, basketball, softball, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, in-line skating and martial arts.
Learning about oral health can be informative and fun for kids of all ages. Visit PDA's online Kids' Corner at www.padental.org/kidscorner for interactive games and activities, information on brushing and flossing, answers to frequently asked questions, nutritional information and more.
If you are a parent, don't forget to visit PDA's online Patient Resource Center at www.padental.org/patientinformation. The Patient Resource Center is a great source of information on a variety of oral health topics from caring for baby teeth to what to expect at your child's first dental visit. If you have specific questions about your child's oral health, please speak with your dentist.
For more information on NCDHM, visit www.padental.org/ncdhm.
About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA's mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. For more information on PDA, visit our website at www.padental.org.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Dental Association