Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, in recognition of February as Children’s Dental Health Month, reminds parents and providers that children should receive their first oral health check up before one year of age, and remember to brush twice a day for 2 minutes each time—think “2x2.”
Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable. Tooth decay is the most widespread chronic childhood disease and can cause a lifetime of problems if not prevented or treated early in a child’s life. Untreated cavities may lead to pain and infection, and when children suffer from oral health problems so does their ability to concentrate and learn. Early tooth loss from dental decay can cause impaired speech development, absence from school, difficulty with concentration, and reduced self-esteem.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children begin regular oral exams when their first teeth become visible or by one year of age. New Hampshire Medicaid and many other dental insurance programs cover the cost of these examinations.
“These are problems that can be easily prevented by taking care of children’s mouths and teeth from the time they are infants,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “It‘s an investment that lasts a lifetime. The National Partnership for Healthy Mouths has created the new 2x2 initiative that makes it easier for parents and caregivers to remember this important part of preventing oral health problems during our busy days.”
Here are important steps to take to help preserve dental health in children:
- Brush and floss children’s teeth 2 times a day.
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride.
- Give fluoride prescribed by your health care provider if your water supply doesn’t have the right amount of fluoride to protect a child’s teeth.
- If using a pacifier, do not dip it in anything sweet such as honey or sugar.
- Clean an infant’s teeth and gums every day, especially after feeding and before bed.
- Have regular dental checkups, starting before age one.
- Do not give infants juice until 12 months of age, and always use a cup and not a bottle for juice.
- Never put a baby to bed with a bottle.
- Don’t let your child catch the bacteria that cause tooth decay by sharing food, utensils, or toys with others.
- Avoid sticky snacks, dried fruits, candy, and sweetened drinks. Offer healthy snacks, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Follow your health care provider’s advice.
For more information on the “2 minutes, 2 times” national campaign, visit http://2min2x.org/. For resources on celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month, go to the American Dental Association’s website at http://www.ada.org/6712.aspx. To learn about the New Hampshire Oral Health Program go to http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/bchs/rhpc/oral/index.htm or call 271-4535. Families with preschool children may be eligible for the WIC Nutrition Program and to receive nutrition education about healthy meals and snacks for infants and preschoolers. Contact WIC at 1-800-942-4321 or http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/wic/index.htm.