It’s February and throughout this month in which love is celebrated, we’re spreading our love of healthy smiles by celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Sponsored by the American Dental Association, the campaign slogan for 2018 is: “Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile.”

This is an important topic, given that dental caries remains the most prevalent chronic disease of children between ages 6 and 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thousands of devoted orthodontic and dental professionals, healthcare providers and educators join together every February to promote the benefits of good oral health to children and their caregivers.

Helping your children develop good oral hygiene habits while they’re young sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles. We know parents want to protect their kids from pain. Good oral hygiene is one of the easiest ways to help ensure that your children avoid cavities and always have a pleasant experience at the dentist’s office.

Besides keeping tooth decay at bay, proper dental care also helps to protect children from becoming ill. Germs that enter the mouth can go straight to the blood stream through mouth sores.

In addition to reminding children of the importance of dental hygiene, we take the opportunity each February to educate people in our community on the important role that orthodontic treatment plays in promoting dental health. Here’s a fact that may surprise you:

65 percent of the population could benefit from orthodontic treatment.

That’s according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Do you have a child who is a thumb-sucker or can’t seem to break the pacifier habit? Studies have shown that prolonged pacifier-use and thumb-sucking or finger-sucking can interfere with tooth alignment. Children who have difficulty breaking the habit alone may benefit from orthodontic appliances designed to remove the pleasing sensation they get from these oral habits.

Kids who have crowded and crooked teeth find that it’s easier to brush and floss their teeth properly when those teeth are properly aligned. We use a variety of appliances to achieve this, from conventional braces for children of all ages, to Invisalign for teens.

For children who are in orthodontic treatment using conventional brackets and arch wires, we provide lots of helpful hygiene tools to help them live out the dental health month slogan all year long. Wax-coated dental floss and floss threaders make it easy for kids to get between their teeth throughout orthodontic treatment. Soft picks and interproximal brushes are provided to get large pieces of food debris dislodged from around appliances.

Teens who undergo treatment with Invisalign are at a slight oral hygiene advantage because their aligners can be removed, which means they can eat their regular diet, as well as brush and floss as normal.

Poor Oral Hygiene Can Set Back Orthodontic Treatment

For children who want to ensure they complete their treatment on time, use this fact as an incentive: A cavity can set you back in your treatment. Using the special hygiene tools we provide is important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy throughout orthodontic treatment.

If you get a cavity while in braces, there’s a chance that some of your appliances will have to be removed to get the cavity filled, depending on where it is located on the tooth. Not only will this set your treatment schedule back, but consider the added hassle of multiple appointments to our office to have your appliances removed and then rebonded, as well as the dental appointment to get your filling.

Don’t forget about your gums. Sometimes patients develop red, puffy gums while in orthodontic treatment because they have difficulty brushing along the gum line. This redness and puffiness is caused by bacteria that get below the gum line and cause irritation. Teeth are more difficult to move when the gums are inflamed. Brush diligently and floss regularly using your floss threaders to prevent this problem.

The Price of Poor Oral Hygiene Can Be High

Regular brushing and flossing can help prevent the need for your children to undergo costly treatments to treat cavities, gingivitis, etc. Undergoing orthodontic treatment is an investment. Help your kids protect your investment in their smiles and avoid costly treatments.

Orthodontics Evaluation by Age 7

National Children’s Dental Health Month also is a good time of year to remind parents of the need to have their children evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7. Doing this gives your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.

This is an ideal age because we can identify subtle problems with jaw growth once your child has a combination of adult and baby teeth. An evaluation at this age typically reveals that all is well with your child’s teeth and gums. But on those occasions when a problem is diagnosed, there may be treatments recommended that will put your child’s growth to work in fixing it.

Treatment recommended at this age is referred to as interceptive treatment. It frequently prevents more serious problems for the child later in life. It can prevent the need for future orthodontic treatment in some cases, or shorten the length of required treatment time when the child is older.

Interceptive treatment sometimes eliminates the need for costly treatments including tooth extractions or surgery later in life because it enables us to guide jaw growth to create more room, to lower the risk of harm to protruding teeth and to create enough space for adult teeth to erupt properly into their ideal positions.

Have a heart for your children’s healthy smiles. Call today to schedule an appointment for your child’s orthodontic evaluation.

National Children’s Dental Health Month Activities

You can download this year’s National Children’s Dental Health Month poster and put it on your refrigerator or in your children’s bathroom to remind them about these important elements of dental hygiene. Downloadable activity sheets for children also are available.

About National Children’s Dental Health Month

Now in its 77th year, National Children’s Dental Health Month began in 1941 as a single-day event in Cleveland, Ohio. It is sponsored annually by the American Dental Association, and the 2018 event also is sponsored by Crest and Oral B.

Each year, observances around the country throughout February include poster displays, coloring and essay contests, health fairs, free dental screenings, museum exhibits, classroom presentations, and dental and orthodontic office tours.