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Health Department column: ‘Defeat Monster Mouth’

Rowan County Health Department

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. The slogan for this year is, “Defeat Monster Mouth.” To fight Monster Mouth and promote good oral health, you can follow this rule: “2min2x.” That’s code for “brush your teeth two minutes, two times a day.” It’s also important to remember to clean between your teeth daily with floss. (ADA.org/ncdhm)

Children’s Dental Health Month is a wonderful opportunity to promote awareness of the importance of good dental habits, which include limiting sugary snacks, limiting sugary drinks (which includes sodas and too much juice) eating healthy meals and visiting your dentist regularly.

Did you know that dental decay is a preventable condition?

Here are some things you can do to keep your child’s teeth healthy:

  • Schedule regular dental visits beginning with the eruption of your child’s first teeth.
  • Start early with good oral care. Wipe your child’s gums after each feeding.
  • Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle or cup. Encourage your child to finish their feeding then wipe the teeth before placing your child in bed.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a regular cup beginning at 6 months of age.
  • Once your child has teeth, make sure to brush them 2 times a day and floss once a day.
  • Encourage a healthy, balanced diet while avoiding large amounts of sweets and sugary drinks.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed.
  • Make sure to use ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily. Flossing will remove plaque and food particles between teeth.

Here are some ways to reduce your children’s risk of tooth decay:

  • Sugary foods and drinks should be consumed with meals. Salivary production increases during meals and helps neutralize acid production. It also aids in rinsing food particles from the mouth.
  • Limit between meal snacks. If kids crave a snack, offer them nutritious food.
  • If your kids chew gum, make it sugarless or one that contains Xylitol. Chewing sugarless gum after eating can increase salivary flow and help wash out food and decay-producing acid.
  • Monitor your child’s beverage consumption. Children should be encouraged to drink water over soft drinks or drinks with high sugar content.
  • Help your child develop good brushing and flossing habits.
  • Schedule regular dental visits (every six months).

Even though cavities and tooth decay are common, they should be taken seriously. Some believe that you do not need to treat cavities in baby teeth. However, cavities and tooth decay can have serious and lasting complications, even for children who do not yet have their permanent teeth. Untreated dental decay can lead to pain, infection of gums and teeth (abscess) and early tooth loss. It may make a child’s ability to eat, sleep, and speak difficult. It may also be difficult for the child to function at home and school. In rare cases a tooth abscess can lead to serious or life-threatening infections.

The Smile Center at Rowan County Health Department is located at 1811 E. Innes St., Salisbury. You can contact the center at 704-216-8796, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. The center sees Rowan County children 17 years or younger. It accepts North Carolina Medicaid or Health Choice. It will also provide care on a sliding fee scale based on family size and income if you are not eligible for Medicaid or Health Choice, but you must first apply for both Medicaid and Health choice.

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