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Airmen from the dental clinic teach children the proper way to floss.
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. - Senior Airman Joanna Fisher (middle) and Tech. Sgt. William Herriott, 66th Medical Squadron dental flight, teach the proper way to floss to the second grade class at Hanscom Primary School Feb. 1. Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness of good oral health habits for children. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Rick Berry)
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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Posted 2/7/2012   Updated 2/7/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Senior Airman Joanna Fisher
66th Medical Squadron Dental Clinic


2/7/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness of good oral health habits for children.

Members of the Hanscom dental clinic educate children at the base schools and Child Development Center (CDC) about cavities, and stress the importance of good oral hygiene and good eating habits. Practicing proper dental habits at a young age can help reinforce healthy habits into adulthood and enable children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Cavity is the one word nobody likes hearing at the dentist's office and can also be known as tooth decay or dental caries.

Cavities are holes or damaged structure in the tooth enamel and form because of poor oral hygiene and unhealthy eating habits. The mouth is full of thousands of bacteria that thrive on the foods and sugary drinks that are consumed. When bacteria feed off these sugars, they produce acid. If the bacteria and acid aren't removed by brushing and flossing, this acid over time will start to attack the tooth and eventually result in tooth decay.

How can people prevent these cavities from forming?

Starting proper oral habits with children early, even before the teeth begin to erupt, is one way. Use a wet cloth and gently wipe gums after meals or formula. This habit will not only help remove any excess food and plaque, but it will also help transition the introduction of a toothbrush later on.

Encourage children to brush at least two times a day, using a soft bristle tooth brush. Make sure they are brushing for at least two minutes to ensure removal of as much plaque and bacteria as possible. Brush in soft circular motions across the gums, the front, back and tops of the teeth.

Don't forget to brush the strongest muscle in the body: the tongue. Plaque and bacteria can be problematic on the tongue, by causing bad breath.

Not only is daily brushing a good habit, but flossing is, as well. Flossing is important because it helps remove plaque and food particles between the teeth and below the gum line. Children should floss at least once a day using dental floss or even floss picks.

Some children have spaces between the teeth, so use encouragement to help get into the habit of flossing. When flossing, make sure it's with an up and down motion rather than back and forth. Wrap the floss around the tooth in a c-shaped motion to remove the plaque and bacteria in the areas where the toothbrush can't reach. Children should be supervised while brushing and flossing until around the age of eight.

Fluoride is another important factor in practicing good oral habits. Fluoride helps the enamel get stronger, making it harder for the acids to attack the tooth. In some cases, it can also repair or remineralize the areas where the acid attacks have already begun.

Fluoride is found in water, either naturally or can be added as a supplement to an existing water supply. The water supply at Hanscom is fluoridated and monitored by Bioenvironmental Engineering. If living off base, check the websites of the United States Environmental Protection Agency or the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Local water departments can also provide information and many offer free testing. Fluoride is also available as an over-the-counter rinse. The fluoride content in these rinses are higher than that found in tap water so children should be supervised with these products to ensure they are not swallowing the rinse.

Educating young children about proper brushing, flossing and good oral care habits can help keep teeth healthy for life. More information can be found at the American Dental Association website, at www.ada.org, or by contacting a family dentist.



tabComments
12/30/2013 9:18:15 AM ET
Great that's good for children as February month is dedicated toward children dental care. This help them at least once in a year to get attention towards there oral health.
oklahoma city dentist, USA
 
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