Children's Dental Health Month

  • Published
  • By 48th Dental Squadron
  • 48th Dental Squadron
February is Children's Dental Health Month. This year's campaign is "Fight Tooth Decay 24/7." By participating in this celebration, members of the dental team, parents and teachers and others can help keep children's smiles beautiful now and for years to come.

There are many ways in which parents can get involved in providing good oral health for their children. For starters, they can reduce a child's risk for getting oral disease by:

- Limiting sugary foods and drinks, including sodas, to only mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps to neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth
- Trying to drink only water between meals
- Having children switch to sugarless gum if they chew gum
- Helping children develop good brushing and flossing habits
- Scheduling regular dental visits

Besides preventive measures, parents should be aware of the necessary steps needed if ever faced with a dental emergency. Parents need to be informed on what to do if their child has a toothache, knocked out tooth (avulsion), broken tooth, wounded tongue or lips.

When a toothache occurs, rinse out the mouth with warm water and remove debris from between teeth. Never place aspirin or other painkillers against the gums because it can burn tissue. If a toothache persists, see a dental professional immediately. Pain medications only temporarily relieve symptoms.

For a knocked out (avulsed) tooth it is recommended to try and locate the tooth. Hold the tooth by the crown (the end you chew with) and rinse the root in water if it is dirty. Do not scrub or remove any attached tissue fragments. If it is possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket while you head to the dentist. If that is not possible put the tooth in a cup of milk and take it to the dentist. Time is critical for successful re-implantation, so try and locate a dentist immediately.

When broken teeth occur, it is helpful to rinse out the mouth with warm water and cleanse the area. Cold compresses placed on the cheek can be useful if swelling is present. A trip to the dentist is necessary to evaluate the tooth and what treatments are subsequently needed.

Wounds to the tongue or lips should be cleaned gently with a clean cloth. Cold compresses applied to the area can reduce swelling. Placing pressure with cotton gauze with pressure can help reduce bleeding. If bleeding cannot be controlled, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.

Remember: Prevention is the key to a child's oral success. Parents who visit the dentist regularly and have excellent diet and hygiene practices set a good example for their own children. These learned behaviors can have a lifetime impact on the oral health and well being of children.