Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Take a Bite Out of Dental Decay This Month

February is National Children's Dental Health Month – a good time to educate your children about the importance of oral health. The American Dental Association (ADA) wants to help you do this!  They provide a wealth of educational materials and tips to support good dental hygiene in America: to get the word out that developing good habits at an early age is the best way to get children on the path to lifelong healthy teeth and gums.


Five ways to encourage dental health at home


You can put a dent in dental decay at your school or in your home with these tips and materials designed to educate and encourage kids regarding good dental health.


Tip #1 – get the Super-Smile poster


Download, print, and display these posters in places your kids can’t miss them, like the bathroom mirror or on the fridge. 
Get the large 11"x17" Tabloid Sized poster:

Download Children's Poster  Download Teen Poster

You can get both of these posters in a standard 8”x12” letter size as well:


Tip #2 – Do activities geared toward great teeth and gums


ADA offers a wealth of games, puzzles, coloring sheets and more, each designed to get your kids excited and more knowledgeable about dental health. The links below include English and Spanish language versions.


Tip #3 – Reveal those missed spots!


One of the most powerful ways to identify insufficient tooth brushing or improper technique is to use a simple food coloring technique to shed light on otherwise invisible plaque. You’ll need some red food color, water, a mirror – preferably the kind that magnifies – a new toothbrush, and toothpaste.
To make the magic happen, add three or four drops of the food color into a few tablespoons of water in a paper cup. Have your child swish the colored water around in his or her mouth for about ten seconds and then spit it out into the sink. Ask your child to use the magnifying mirror to study their teeth and gums; the red food coloring makes the areas with plaque show up as bright red!
The education continues when your child brushes afterward with toothpaste and a new toothbrush.  If they miss any spots, they’ll know right away, as the red coloring highlights the missed sections.  Have your child brush again until they’ve successfully removed most of the red food coloring. 
Your child will likely never brush the same way again.


Tip #4 – Do a fun science experiment on tooth decay


To demo tooth decay effectively, you can use an apple with a hole in it.
First, make a one-inch deep hole in an apple. Put it in a paper bag and set it aside for about three days.  Take a knife and cut through the apple through where you made the hole. Show your children the decay that formed around the hole. This is a good way to demonstrate shows how decay can also spread through a tooth.
Explain that good oral hygiene, including brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily is important to stop tooth decay from spreading.


More ways to promote dental health at home


Try all of the above tips and you'll have your kids on the road to a healthy smile in no time.  As well, visit the ADA's "For Kids" section, where you can play student-focused dental games and animations.  Also check with a local dentist; many of them have public speaking events during National Children's Dental Health Month that you could attend.


Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

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