Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 2.30.08 PMWhen you think of celebrations in February, I’m sure Valentine’s Day comes to mind. But today I want to bring to your attention something else you can celebrate in February: your children’s dental health!

Unlike Valentine’s Day, which gets just one day devoted to it, the American Dental Association dedicates all of February to celebrating, in the form of National Children’s Dental Health Month.

That may not sound as exciting as exchanging chocolates and love notes, but what could be sweeter than teaching your children the skills and tools they need to keep their teeth healthy for a lifetime?

Just as we teach our little ones the habits of picking up after themselves and saying please and thank you, we need to teach them the importance of brushing their teeth and flossing daily, and promoting the benefits of good oral health.

The ADA’s 2014 campaign theme is “Join the Super Smile Team,” and it promotes brushing teeth two times a day for two minutes. For children who are in orthodontic treatment, we recommend brushing after every meal, so be sure your kids have a travel supply of toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss and floss threaders to stash in their purses or backpacks for brushing after meals at school.

As a parent, I’m sure you’ve made it a priority to help keep your children’s teeth cavity-free. Those dental appointments that involve checkups, cleanings and an otherwise clean bill of health are a treasure. Thanks to fluoride in toothpastes and mouthwashes, and dental sealants to provide extra protection for the molars, the battle against cavities can be fought more effectively than ever. And these days, there are more studies than ever showing how good oral health can promote good overall health. Scientists continue to find connections between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, such as diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.

Orthodontics often gets treated as the answer to aesthetic problems with the teeth, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Its role in correcting bite and alignment issues actually promotes oral health.

A bad bite can cause abnormal enamel wear patterns and cause the enamel to wear away prematurely. That enamel is important to oral health because it provides a protective barrier against acids and plaque, and it also protects the sensitive inner layers of the teeth from hot and cold foods and beverages.

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Crowded, crooked teeth create nooks and crannies in which food deposits can collect and plaque can form. Uncorrected overjet leaves the front teeth particularly vulnerable to trauma. Orthodontic treatment addresses all of these conditions.

Although special focus is given to oral health during National Children’s Dental Health Month, youobviously must consider your child’s oral health every day of the year. If your child is 7 years old and hasn’t been evaluated by an orthodontist yet, schedule an appointment. Our Miami orthodontics office provides these evaluations for free. Frequently, no treatment is necessary at this time. But there are some conditions that are easier to treat when identified early and we can use your child’s growth to our advantage in the treatment process. Please contact our office if you’d like to schedule an appointment.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this link to the ADA’s website, which offers a series of downloadable activity sheets for children. These games, puzzles and coloring sheets provide a fun way for your kids to learn about oral health. Now that’s something to smile about.