Pediatric dental disease remains the most prevalent chronic disease affecting children in America today: 1 in 5 children in America don't receive dental care and more than 40% of children have dental cavities by the time they reach kindergarten. When it comes to Hispanic children and oral health, these numbers increase as many often face barriers in getting care.
In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of dental care and encourage healthy dental hygiene habits for National Dental Hygiene Month, the non-profit foundation America's ToothFairy has developed ten tips for proper oral health:
1. All children should visit the dentist before by age one, and children with special needs may require earlier and more frequent appointments.
2. Invest in a new toothbrush at least every three months and after every illness to avoid lingering bacteria and germs.
3. Eat plenty of healthy, tooth-friendly snacks such as fruit, vegetables, cheese and yogurt. Avoid starchy and sticky snacks that can cling to teeth and cause decay.
4. Beginning at birth, clean infant gums with a damp cloth or soft toothbrush and warm water after each feeding and check your child's gums/teeth daily.
5. Avoid spreading harmful bacteria to babies by washing pacifiers in warm soapy water; never "clean" a pacifier or bottle nipple by placing it in your own mouth.
6. Children should use only playground equipment that is surrounded by a soft surface such as loose sand, wood mulch or specialized rubber mats to avoid dangerous dental trauma.
7. Ask your dentist or pediatrician if fluoride toothpaste, varnish, mouth rinses and supplements are recommended for your child.
8. If a permanent tooth is knocked loose due to dental trauma, push it back into the area or place it in milk and go immediately to a dental office.
9. Orthodontic appliances should be cleaned daily using a denture-cleansing bath and rinsed thoroughly before being reinserted into the mouth.
10. Check out products with xylitol as an alternative to sugar-laden sweets.
Founded in 2006, the non-profit America's ToothFairy has been committed to increasing access to oral health care by facilitating bilingual education, prevention and treatment services for underserved children in collaboration with organizations, health professionals, corporate leaders and caring individuals across the country.