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Children's dental health focus for month

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Vivian Garcia
  • 28th Medical Operations Squadron
A healthy smile is important to a child's self-esteem.

According to the American Dental Association, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases - second only to the common cold - among children and teens ages 5 to 17. More than 51 million hours of school are lost every year due to dental-related illnesses.

February is National Children's Dental Health Month, a great time to focus on helping children form healthy habits. The ADA recommends the following tips to help children reduce their risk of developing cavities:

- Sugary foods or drinks should be consumed at meals. Saliva production increases during meals and helps neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth.
- Limit snacking between meals, or eat a nutritious snack instead.
- Chew sugarless gum instead of regular gum. Doing so after eating can increase saliva flow and help wash out food and decay-producing acid.
- Choose water or low-fat milk over soda.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes, and floss after meals.
- Wear a mouth guard while playing sports. Mouth guards cushion blows that could otherwise cause broken teeth, lip or face injuries, or jaw fractures.
- Visit the dentist regularly. Dental sealants form a protective barrier around teeth that helps prevent bacteria from causing tooth decay.

With proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental check-ups, your child's teeth can remain healthy and strong.