Ames Neighbors North Magazine
February 2017 Issue
“Pass on Positive Habits!”
Celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month
By Jason Niegsch, DDS, FAGD
As parents and grandparents we know our kids watch what we say and do — they’re definitely watching what we eat and how we value the health of our teeth and gums.
Helping our kids and grandkids establish healthy habits as they’re growing up instills the proactive care that will save them from dental problems years down the road. We know that there’s a confusing, (sometimes overwhelming) assortment of food choices. Even as adults it’s hard to understand what is actually healthy.
We can help our kids decode all these options so they make the healthiest choices that will affect not only their general health, but also their oral health. We can also help our kids establish daily, healthy routines that will become a basic part of their lives that they’ll carry with them into adulthood.
Sugar, when eaten repeatedly in large and hidden amounts has dramatic and harmful effects on our teeth. Sugar left on teeth provides food for bacteria, which produce acid. This acid in turn can eat away at the enamel on our teeth.
Here are some tips to reduce your children’s risk of tooth decay:
- Establish consistent, specific brushing and flossing habits. Instill the 2×2 idea! Have your kids/grandkids brush 2 minutes, 2 times a day! Demonstrate how to floss and brush. Ask your hygienist to show you the proper technique if you’re unsure. We’d be happy to show you!
- Schedule regular dental visits and make it a family affair. When kids see you making time for your preventive care they will understand the value of maintaining a healthy smile. We let kids have playtime in our kids’ room while their parents have their dental treatment.
- Make sure your dentist and hygienist apply fluoride and sealants whenever possible. These proactive measures will save your child discomfort and treatment later.
- Reduce the amount and frequency of sugary foods. When your kids/grandkids do have sugary drinks and treats, serve them with meals. Saliva production increases during meals and helps neutralize acid production and the saliva rinses food particles from the mouth. If the kids do need a snack, have plenty of nutritious choices on-hand such as fresh produce, yogurt and cheese.
- Encourage your kids and grandkids to choose water and low-fat milk instead of soft drinks or juices.
- Offer sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum after eating can increase saliva flow and helps wash out food and acid that produces decay.
“Children’s teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and a healthy smile is important to a child’s self-esteem. With proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental visits, their teeth can remain healthy and strong,” said Dr. Jason Niegsch.