Special to GUIDON
Because February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, here are some tips to help keep their teeth healthy and strong:
Ages 0–11 Months
Before teeth come in, gently wipe babies’ gums with a soft, clean cloth twice a day. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this helps remove bacteria that can cause tooth decay. From four months of age and on, a child’s first teeth will start to grow. As soon as this happens, the CDC suggests that you brush teeth twice a day with a soft, small-bristled toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste.
The American Dental Association recommends when children turn 1 year old, they see a dentist to spot signs of problems early. From ages 1 to 6, help brush his or her own teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Make sure he or she doesn’t swallow the toothpaste after brushing. If two teeth touch, floss daily to get loose food particles that may be stuck between teeth.
As children age, they’ll get more comfortable brushing and flossing alone and will start to lose their baby teeth. In this age range, it’s still important to monitor children’s dental routines. Watch them brush their teeth and help with those hard-to-reach places, especially in the back of the mouth. Ask a dentist if dental sealants would be beneficial to help prevent cavities. According to the CDC, “children aged 6 to 11 years without sealants have almost three times more first molar cavities than children with sealants.”
Ages 10 and Older
Ideally, when children are older than 10, they’ll be confident handling their own dental routine. Between ages 12 and 13, check with a dentist to make sure all permanent teeth are in place, except for wisdom teeth. The dentist should continue to monitor wisdom teeth growth as the child gets older.
For details, visit tricare.mil/tdp.
(Editor’s note: This article was submitted by TRICARE.)