February is National Children’s Dental Health Month an observance that promotes the benefits of good oral health for children. The experts at CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health Dental Center know the best dental health habits begin with parents even prior to a child forming their first tooth.
“Tooth decay can develop as soon as the first tooth appears but even before then, parents should be wiping their baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding,” said Dr. Kyra Schirk of the CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health Dental Center in Columbia, Pennsylvania. “Healthy gums are the start of healthy teeth.”
Caring for your child’s baby teeth is especially important because they act as placeholders for adult teeth, help form proper speech, and aid in digestion of food. In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, Dr. Schirk offers the following tips for putting your child on track for a lifetime of good dental health.
- Start cleaning your child’s mouth soon after birth. Begin cleaning by wiping with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding.
- Start brushing when the first tooth appears. Parents should brush with a small, soft toothbrush and continue cleaning the gums with either the soft toothbrush or cloth.
- Schedule your child’s first dentist appointment early. Schedule your child’s first dental visit when their first tooth appears or by your child’s first birthday at the latest. Keep making regular visits.
- Use fluoride toothpaste early to help fight cavities. Begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. For children 3 years of age and older, dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Start flossing early. When your child has two teeth that touch you should begin flossing once a day. Wrap the floss around the sides of each tooth moving up and down. If you are using a flosser make sure to also rub each tooth and rinse the flosser in water before putting it between the next tooth.
- If your child needs a pacifier, use a clean pacifier recommended by your dentist or doctor. Do not give your child a pacifier dipped in any sweet liquid.
- Limit fruit juice. Fruit Juice should be limited to the daily servings as recommended by your child’s doctor and only at meal times. Put only water in bottles or sippy cups during non-meal times.
- Fill bed time cups with water only. Do not allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup containing milk, formula, fruit juice or sweetened liquids. Fill it with water only.
- Talk to your child’s doctor or dentist about your child’s fluoride needs. Children older than 6 months may need extra fluoride. If your tap water does not have fluoride, talk to your child’s doctor or dentist about whether or not fluoride supplements are right for your child.
- Supervise brushing until age 8. To make sure good brushing habits are formed, supervise your child’s brushing until around age 8.
CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health has served the dental health of the children in Lancaster County for over a decade through the Brush.Brush.Smile!® – Mobile Dental Clinic Program. The mobile dental clinics visit all 16 school districts in Lancaster County providing quality, accessible and affordable dental services to school-age children. The recent opening of the CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health Dental Center was the next evolution needed to meet the dental health needs of the children in the community. The Brush.Brush.Smile!® – Mobile Dental Clinic Program also still continues to serve the community with school visits. The CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health Dental Center is located at 401 Locust Street in Columbia and serves patients throughout Lancaster County. No insurance is required to receive service; however, CHIP, Medicaid and private insurance are accepted. Interested families should call 844-836-8871 for more information about CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health Dental Center or visit www.CHIDentalCenter.org.
About CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health
A part of Catholic Health Initiatives, CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health is a community-based organization dedicated to the health and wellbeing of children in Lancaster County. The organization works in collaboration with community partners to assure access to appropriate, quality health services and benefits for every child in the Lancaster community. This mission in children’s health began with the development of Brush.Brush.Smile!®, a mobile dental clinic program, and now includes multiple efforts, programs and services committed to improving the health of children and expanding healthcare access for children and families throughout the Lancaster community. The newly opened CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health Dental Center is located at 401 Locust Street in Columbia and serves as a dental home for children throughout Lancaster County. No insurance is required to receive service; however, CHIP, Medicaid and private insurance are accepted. Interested families should call 844-836-8871 for more information about CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health Dental Center or visit www.CHIDentalCenter.org.