by John G. Polkinghorne, D.D.S.
National Children’s Dental Health Month is a national month-long observance bringing together dental health professionals to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers and teachers. This educational effort originated as a one-day event in Cleveland in 1941 and has since grown into a month-long educational celebration.
The observance of National Children’s Dental Health Month isn’t just for kids. Parents play a vital role to ensure good brushing habits are developed from an early age. While they are helping their children build those strong habits, they should use the month of February to “brush up” on their own knowledge and benefits of how oral health affects their general health and well-being.
A new resource this year is an initiative called 2MINx2. The campaign outlines the importance of children brushing for a full two minutes, two times per day in order to maintain not just good dental health, but also good overall health. Adults are encouraged to also follow 2MINx2.
Some of the 2MINx2 “Tooth To-Do’s” include:
Start brushing the child’s teeth with toothpaste made for children as soon as teeth start to erupt from the gums. Use a children’s toothbrush with the paste in an amount no more than the size of a grain of rice. For kids 3 to 6 years of age, the amount of toothpaste should be increased to about the size of a pea.
Parents should supervise children during brushing until they are at least 8 years old.
Place the toothbrush at an angle against their gums. Teach children to brush their tongue to remove germs and freshen breath. This is a habit very few adults ever acquire, yet the tongue is a hiding place for millions of bacteria.
Replace toothbrushes every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are worn out or if the child has been sick.
Introducing the 2MINx2 initiative into the daily routine will not only help children learn good brushing habits, but will also help them have healthier teeth, fewer cavities, and avoid unpleasant and costly dental problems. Building strong habits while young will benefit the child long into adulthood. It is well documented that periodontal disease is associated with such illnesses as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, respiratory disease, sleep apnea and cancer.
It’s not just teeth a parent trains kids to protect, it’s their overall health and well-being in the future. Never underestimate the value of a beautiful smile.
John G. Polkinghorne, D.D.S., has maintained a restorative and cosmetic dental practice for 32 years. He is located at 601 N. Kelly Ave., Ste. 104, in Edmond. For more information, call 405-341-4400 or visit DrJohnDental.com. See ad on page XX.