Attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining good health throughout life. This is true for many things, like introducing healthy foods, fun exercise and good dental hygiene habits.
According to the American Dental Association, children’s teeth are at risk for decay as soon as they appear, usually when the child is six months old. However, they are also very important for the baby’s development and health-impacting the way to jaw grows, how a baby forms words and eats. Poor oral care, however, can lead to infection, disease, and other teeth and health problems.
Start cleaning a baby’s teeth early. This will not only help to keep them healthy, but will get the child used to having people work on his or her teeth and minimize anxiety about the dentist. It is also helpful to schedule regular dentist visits no later than a child’s first birthday.
Steps to follow as your child ages:
- Once your baby starts to get teeth, clean their mouth at least twice a day.
- When your child is 1 to 2 years old, switch to a soft baby toothbrush with water. Add a small dab of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice.
- Brush your baby’s teeth at least twice a day. You also should start using floss in between your baby’s teeth.
- For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician.
- Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
In February, WellCare community representatives present several programs to help educate children and their parents on the importance of brushing their teeth, flossing, eating the right foods and avoiding certain foods.
The Missouri Care team shared its “Show Me Smiles” program at head starts, schools, child care facilities, churches, and other civic groups throughout the state. Associates are joined by “Mr. Choppers,” a stuffed dinosaur with “real” teeth the children can take turns brushing and flossing. At the end of each “Show Me Smiles” presentation, every child receives a dental “goodie” bag that contains a new toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, a coloring book and other assorted goodies.
In Arizona, the Care1st Avondale Resource Center, a one-stop hub of social and human services, offers the First Teeth First program for eligible children between birth to 5 years old and expectant mothers at no cost. The program is available through Maricopa County’s Office of Oral Health and funded by First Things First, a voter-initiated, statewide organization that provides funding to community-based organizations that support early childhood education and health. The initiative offers participants basic oral screenings, education and referrals.
At the WellCare of New York Welcome Room in Washington Heights, dentists from HealthFlex and community providers highlighted the importance to all preventative care, including dental hygiene. Plus HealthFlex provided free dental screenings.