In case you missed it, February was National Children’s Dental Health Month, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only time to care about your child’s teeth. Keep the focus up for the rest of the year and teach them to do the same. Good information and a sound routine can go a long way in helping you instill good habits in your children. After all, if teeth are neglected even at a tender age, that can cause problems in school and later in life. Here’s what you need to know to help keep your children’s teeth happy and health.

Cavities — also known as tooth decay — are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the U.S. No one has to tell you they can cause pain and infections. But did you know they can even cause problems with learning? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “children with poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.”  But there is good news! Tooth decay is preventable — but only with proper care.

For babies:

  • Wipe gums twice a day with a soft, clean cloth in the morning after the first feeding and right before bed to wipe away bacteria and sugars that can cause cavities.
  • When teeth come in, start brushing twice a day with a soft, small‑bristled toothbrush and plain water.
  • Visit the dentist by your baby’s first birthday to spot signs of problems early.
  • Talk to your dentist or doctor about putting fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.

For children:

  • Brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • If your child is younger than 6, watch them brush. Make sure they use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and always spit it out rather than swallow.
  • Help your child brush until they have good brushing skills.
  • Ask your child’s dentist to apply dental sealants when appropriate.

For children (or adults) with braces:

  • Brush from the top of the brace/bracket and aim right towards the tooth. Also brush back and forth.
  • Clean the area under the brace/bracket using a back and forth movement.
  • Brush the biting surface of the tooth and the tooth area facing the tongue.
  • Use light circular motions while brushing the teeth to prevent any damage to the braces.
  • Floss regularly to remove food trapped in the braces.

There’s a lot to know and do. If you have questions or need help, come talk to the team at Dental Health Partners of Cedar Rapids. We’re especially kid-friendly. We even help make your children comfortable, with a playroom filled with toys and an HDTV that helps keep them at ease before their dental appointments.