In the last few days of October, Halloween is only a few days away with Thanksgiving following soon after and generally marking the beginning of the holiday season.
This festive time of year is wonderful for allowing enjoyment of traditions and socializing with friends and family. However, this often involves increased intake of candy, confections, and other treats that normally would not be consumed in such quantity or frequency.
Maintaining good oral health along with these dietary changes is important for people of all ages, but it is especially important for children.
This is one reason that a year ago the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the Ad Council instituted the Partnership for Oral Health. This campaign, http://2min2x.org, was designed to raise awareness of oral health in children, parents, and caregivers.
As exemplified by its web address, one of the keys to good oral health is maintaining good oral hygiene through brushing children’s teeth for 2 minutes 2 times a day.
Other good oral health practices include:
- Brushing teeth after meals, especially at night, and not having snacks or sweetened beverages between brushing and bedtime.
- Supervising a child’s brushing and flossing until they are old enough to do a good job on their own. When children develop this ability can vary slightly, but for most children it’s around age 8.
- Using dental floss to clean between teeth at least once a day, every day as soon as any of the adjacent teeth begin to touch each other. Use of floss is important for the removal of plaque and food between the teeth where the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach. If traditional use of dental floss wrapped around fingers is found to be too difficult for the child, parent, or caregiver, then the use of disposable flossers or other flossing aids can help make this easier.
- Delivering topical fluoride to the teeth through toothpaste, rinse, or fluoridated water can help strengthen enamel and make it more resistant to the acidic attack that is involved in the tooth decay process.
- Seeing a dentist regularly. The AAPD recommends that all children have a dental home. Properly establishing a dental home means that all children should see a dentist by one year of age and on a regular basis for the rest of their lives, similar to recommendations for wellness checks with pediatricians. This is important because dentists can detect small problems before they become bigger and start to cause pain.
These and other recommendations can be found on the AAPD’s website at: http://www.aapd.org
-Christopher A. Cotterill, DMD, assistant clinical professor
ECU School of Dental Medicine
Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics