February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which serves as a reminder to parents to instill the importance of good dental hygiene in their children.
Recently, Dr. Poonam Alaigh, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, provides insight for parents raising infants to school-age children. “We hope that by raising parental awareness of the importance of brushing we will reduce the incidences of cavities and improve oral health in children,” Alaigh said. “Over 50 percent of children ages 5-9 have at least one cavity or filling.”
Due to the vulnerability of infants to tooth decay, the New Jersey DHSS recommends parents do not share saliva with their babies via utensils or other objects. Prior to teething, parents can clean their infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth.
For children ages 2 to 6, the DHSS recommends a pea-size amount of toothpaste containing fluoride for brushing.
Between appointments, kids can learn from the professionals through the American Dental Association’s website, where they can discover the basics of brushing and flossing through interactive tutorials and “visit” the dentist with an animated friend named Marty.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 78 percent of children visited the dentist in 2009.
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