February is Childrens Dental Health Month

Danna F. Gillett  |  2/24/2011 3:06:12 AM


Sippy Cups and Your Child’s Teeth

February is Children’s Dental Health Month. Parents can save a lot of money and protect their children from unnecessary pain if they follow a few dental health guidelines. Tooth decay can begin as soon as teeth appear in the mouth. The American Dental Association recommends that parents schedule the first dental visit within six months of the appearance of the first tooth and no later than the child’s first birthday.

When an infant’s teeth are frequently exposed to liquids that contain sugar, such as fruit juice, milk or formula, a condition called baby bottle tooth decay may result. Infants should finish their bottles before nap or bedtime, and parents should encourage their children to drink from a cup by their first birthday. Once a child has learned how to sip, the training cup should be discarded. Parents should not let their children carry the sippy cup around. Toddlers are often unsteady on their feet, and a fall while drinking from a cup can injure the mouth.

Sugary liquids and foods can also harm the teeth of older children. Sugar on teeth provides food for bacteria which produces acid. The acid eats away tooth enamel and decay can begin to attack the teeth. To reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay, remember these tips:

  • Limit between-meal snacks. If kids crave a snack, offer them nutritious foods that are lower in sugar and starches.

  • When sugary foods and drinks are consumed with meals, saliva production increases. Saliva helps neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth.

  •  Kids should chew sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum after eating can increase saliva flow and help wash away food and decay-producing acid.

  •  Instead of soft drinks all day, encourage children to choose water and low-fat milk.

  •  Help your children develop good brushing and flossing habits.

  • Schedule regular dental visits. Many dentists recommend children visit the dentist twice a year.

For more information, visit the American Dental Association website at www.ada.org.

Submitted by Danna Gillett, the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Richland Parish. This article originally appeared in The Richland Beacon and The Delhi Dispatch on February 17, 2011.

This article appeared in the Richland Beacon News and the Delhi Dispatch on Thursday, February 17, 2011.

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