February may be the shortest month of the year, but it’s an important one. Not only is it the last month of winter and the month when Abraham Lincoln was born — it’s also National Children’s Dental Health Month! While it’s important to focus on your children’s dental health all year long, this month is the perfect occasion to re-group, learn a little more, and enhance your efforts.
This year’s National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) slogan is “Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!” We’re pretty excited about this slogan, since the importance of fluoride for strong tooth enamel is often overlooked.
What’s National Children’s Dental Health Month?
A creation of the ADA, or American Dental Association, NCDHM is a way for parents, dentists, other healthcare providers, and even teachers to come together and focus on kids’ oral health. The tradition began back in 1941. Back then, the observation only lasted for two days, but since pediatric dental care is so important, it has been extended and now lasts all month.
How Can You Get Involved As A Parent?
There are plenty of ways to get involved with NCDHM and re-focus on children’s dental health in February. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Offer Your Child More Water
In honor of this year’s slogan, one way to improve your child’s dental health is to make sure they’re drinking plenty of water. Tap water is generally best since it contains fluoride, a mineral that can help build strong, cavity-resistant tooth enamel.
If you are worried about a strange taste or unwanted chemicals in your tap water, just filter it before drinking. Many standard filters for home use do not remove fluoride, but they do remove other unwanted compounds like sulfur. If you’ve primarily been giving your child bottled water to drink, make this the month you change and start offering filtered tap water instead.
If your child is old enough to brush their own teeth, spend some time supervising them this month. As you observe, offer some pointers. For example, if you see them focusing mostly on the top teeth, remind them to spend time on the bottom teeth, too. If they seem to be rushing the brushing process, give them a timer, and show them how to set it for 2 minutes to ensure they’re spending enough time on their teeth.
The more thoroughly they brush, the more plaque they’ll remove, and the lower their risk of cavities will be.
Schedule a Dental Appointment
Most kids should see the dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning. As busy as life can be when you have kids, it’s so easy to forget to schedule these appointments! Call your child’s dentist and schedule the year’s checkups right now so you don’t forget.
NCDHM is the perfect occasion to refocus on good pediatric dental practices. This year, make sure you’re offering your child tap water to ensure their fluoride needs are met, supervise brushing, and keep those dental appointments. Happy National Children’s Dental Health Month!