FOR RELEASE: January 27, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
February is National Children's Dental Health Month
Due to improvements in preventive dental care, many Oklahoma children may be able to reach adulthood without experiencing tooth decay, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
"Healthy attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining and promoting good oral health throughout life," said State Health Commissioner J.R. Nida, M.D. February is National Children's Dental Health Month and the OSDH has these tips for parents and caregivers:
- Take your child to see the dentist regularly, beginning by the child's first birthday.
- Put only water in a child's naptime or bedtime bottle.
- Start brushing as soon as the child's first tooth appears.
- Begin flossing when two teeth begin to touch.
- Brush and floss your child's teeth daily until the child can be taught to do this alone. (A child normally develops manual dexterity to brush and floss by themselves about the third grade.)
- Make certain your child gets the fluoride needed for decay-resistant teeth. Ask your dentist how this can be done.
- Ask your dentist about dental sealants, a thin protective barrier that shields the chewing surface of back teeth against tooth decay. Good oral health practices should begin in infancy and continue throughout adult life. "In a child's early years, the parent or caregiver must provide this care. Later, they will need to instruct, monitor and motivate their child to help maintain good oral health habits," Nida said.