It’s time to celebrate National Tooth Fairy Day, an occasion that comes around twice a year: once on August 22nd and again on February 28th. Since keeping your mouth healthy everyday is so important, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan encourages parents to use both days as an opportunity to educate their children on oral health.
As another school year quickly approaches, parents also need to remember to include a trip to the dentist when scheduling their child’s back to school medical check-ups.
Recommended tips for optimal dental health for children by Gary Vance, D.D.S., dental director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan include:
* Teeth need to be brushed at least two times every day.
* Soft-bristled brushes are best and help clean teeth, without unnecessary gum irritation. Your toothbrush shape and size should be comfortable for your mouth.
* Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. To reduce risk of re-infection, replace toothbrush after being sick.
* Good brushing technique:
o Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
o Gently move the brush back-and-forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
o Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
o To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
o Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.
It is crucial to teach your children good brushing habits from the beginning. Try making brushing fun and encourage good techniques by:
* Playing games while brushing teeth, such as “Simon Says.”
* Let your child pick out his/her toothbrush and toothpaste so he/she is excited about having a brushing routine.
* Reward children for good brushing habits to encourage them to continue to brush their teeth every day.
* Limit the juice – too much juice consumption has been linked to childhood obesity and tooth decay.
A balanced diet is a critical element of dental health so consider your child’s teeth when preparing school lunches and snacks by selecting:
* Calcium: Foods rich in calcium (milk, yogurt and cheese) make teeth and the jaw bones strong while protecting the mouth against tooth decay.
* Bacteria Fighters: Foods like celery, apples, pears and carrots cause you to chew more, which generates more saliva and helps eliminate the bad bacteria in your mouth.
* Vitamin C: Foods high in Vitamin C, such as red peppers and oranges, keep your gums healthy by strengthening blood vessels and connective tissue.
* Protein: For the main course, try soups or whole-wheat sandwiches made with protein-rich foods such as, chicken, turkey and ham to help teeth build enamel.
* Vitamin D: Pack foods such as hard-boiled eggs and tuna fish. They’re not only protein-rich, these super foods help aid in the absorption of calcium and protein, two key ingredients needed to make strong teeth.
Oral health is a crucial component of a child’s overall health.
* The most common chronic childhood disease is tooth decay.
* 51 million school hours are lost annually due to dental-related illnesses.
* 25% of students have never been to a dentist before kindergarten.
* 80% of dental injuries occur while kids are playing sports.