M.C. public health offers tips on improving children’s dental health

FONDA — Montgomery County Public Health is offering tips on improving children’s dental health.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Each February, the American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. In Montgomery County, 27.4 percent of third-graders show evidence of untreated tooth decay. The statewide average is 24 percent. In addition, none of the residents in Montgomery County are currently served by water systems that are optimally fluoridated.

Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. The ADA recommends parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday. Parents can do several things at home to start healthy habits.

∫ Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 to 14 months.

∫ Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch you should begin flossing their teeth daily.

∫ For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice daily (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste.

∫ For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice daily (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.

For more information on dental health activities that are happening in our county, call Montgomery County Public Health at (518) 853-3531 or the Bassett Healthcare Network Research Institute at (607) 547-6711.

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