February is an important month to kids’ dental care because it marks the observance of the American Dental Association’s (ADA) National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). What started in 1941 as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, this month has progressed remarkably over the years. The ADA held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. After the observance became a weeklong event in 1955, the program was extended to a month-long celebration in 1981 – known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month.
Why We Have National Children’s Dental Health Month
NCDHM raises awareness of how important it is for children to develop good oral habits at an early age to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) regularly recommends that children receive their first dental exam no later than one year of age to head off potential early dental problems.
Kids’ dental care also depends on parents to review certain areas of prevention with their dental professional. This includes tooth decay, what thumb-sucking can do to baby teeth and how to get your child to become familiar with his or her dental office’s surroundings. In later years, your attention should focus on the prevention of crowded teeth and healthy gums, both achievable by seeing a dentist at least twice a year for an oral examination and professional cleaning.
Protect Tiny Teeth
Get Out and Play
People today spend more hours on electronic devices than ever before. Adults and children both need to learn the value of unplugging every once in a while, and playing together. Going for a walk, bicycle ride or even a skiing trip are great ways to spend time together, hear about each other’s day and get moving without interruptions from TV and social media. Exercise is a vital component of a child’s long-term well-being, according to the American Psychological Association, and every minute counts. Walk to and from the bus stop instead of driving or park further away from the grocery store so you and your child can walk together. These small changes can have a cumulative benefit if done on a regular basis because it decreases his or her chances of future heart disease and diabetes – both of which can raise one’s risk for oral disease, explains the American Academy of Periodontology.
Kids and teenagers often consume processed foods when rushing to and from sporting events and school activities. To encourage healthy eating, nutritious snack options should be made available to them even when on the go. Foods that are natural and low in sodium and fat – like lean proteins, fruits and vegetables – provide kids with necessary nutrients to keep their minds focused and their bodies healthy. So cut down on the processed or deep-fried foods that are typical to school cafeterias, and opt for those that keep the teeth and body healthy and strong. Dr. Friscia advises against processed foods because they contain more added sugars that can contribute to the growth of germs in the mouth if children do not brush right away.
Manage Stress and Stay Positive
Stress is not always a bad thing; it can often motivate people to accomplish goals and succeed under pressure. However, problems can arise when stress lingers, because it can lead to unhealthy changes in caloric intake in an effort to cope with these issues. Stress rarely causes disease, but it creates conditions that make the body more vulnerable to them. From nighttime teeth grinding, to dry mouth to the occasional canker sore, feelings of anxiety can actually cause oral health issues in the mouth according to studies. Kids also find it easy to deal with social and academic stress by turning to comfort foods that are high in calories, or by drinking caffeinated beverages to stay alert. But these things can cause dental decay that ultimately deters a healthy lifestyle.
An alternative way to deal with stress is to exercise. Working out can release chemicals called endorphins into the body, decreasing stress and making the body relax and feel better for longer. Maintaining a positive attitude can also keep an individual healthy.
Drink More Water
Water has many jobs, and ideally, the body should receive seven to 10 glasses of it a day to stay healthy. It reinforces cells that build the body tissue associated with bone and skin. Water also flushes away toxins that enter the body, and those that the body produces as it turns food into energy. It is a building block for many of the chemical reactions that keep your system healthy, and is preferable over soda, sugary juices and sports drinks due to its ability to hydrate your cells.
Drinking water also helps to cleanse the teeth of bacteria, helping to prevent tooth decay. By rinsing away germs and small food particles that can build on and between the teeth, you prevent future issues such as dry mouth and bad breath.
Get Some Rest
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep is a valuable tool in maintaining your health. Your state during the day hinges on how you spend your night, and getting enough sleep can do wonders for your mental health, physical health and overall quality of life for all ages. Both the body and brain need sleep to repair cells and retain memory. Without enough sleep, children can struggle in school and become prone to things like high blood pressure, which is often linked to gum disease.
Take Care of Your Body
Proper hygiene also plays an integral role in bodily health. Making sure you and your kids are clean before and after daily activities involves not only showering or bathing, but good oral care as well. Flossing after big meals and brushing can prevent cavities, and seeing a dental professional twice a year will help keep the entire body healthy in the process.
Educating children about healthy lifestyle choices is imperative if they’re serious about maintaining their mental and physical well-being. Simple changes can be made to daily choices that can improve their lifelong health. The earlier you instill the idea that healthy kids make healthy choices, the better off your own children will be when they reach adulthood.