February is National Children's Dental Health Month (NCDHM). The American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors this national awareness annually to raise the importance of oral health. The goal of the NCDHM is to educate children on developing good dental habits, encouraging scheduled dental visits, and to promote healthy eating habits across the country.

In order to encourage children to take care of their teeth, the ADA recommends parents and teachers help children understand the importance of teeth and oral health. Teeth aid to talk, chew and smile. Emphasizing the importance of teeth, the ADA advises brushing and flossing twice a day to keep the teeth healthy. Brushing is recommended with use of fluoridated toothpaste.

Regularly scheduled dental appointments are an essential aspect of dental health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a dental check-up every six months to prevent undiagnosed dental disease and overall health problems. The dentist will examine the tissues and the overall oral health of the child. With each routine check-up, the oral developmental stages can be observed and monitored.

In addition to brushing, flossing and regular dental visits, the NCDHM also promotes education on proper nutrition. The ADA states that dental decay is "the single most common chronic childhood disease - five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever." Healthy eating habits, including eating patterns and food choices, will help prevent dental decay.

Reducing the frequency of eating and drinking allows the oral environment to neutralize bacterial acids, which cause dental decay. Sweets are better to be eaten during meals and should be followed by drinking water or brushing. Eating a well balanced meal three times a day is not only good for the body, but good for the teeth as it nourishes the gums and surrounding tissues of the mouth.

As February passes, dental health education should continue month to month. Parents and teachers are urged to help children understand the importance of oral health so children will take effort to brush and floss on their own. The ADA has informational aids on its website to help with education for you and your family at www. ADA.org.


Dr. Rashmi (Rush) Bhatnagar, DMD, MPH, can be contacted at (480) 598-5900 or visit www.BellaVistaDentalCare.com.


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