ADA offers tips for Children's Dental Health Month

The ADA is offering parents and caregivers tips for good oral health in recognition of February as National Children's Dental Health Month.

Statistics show that caries is the most common, chronic childhood disease in the U.S. -- five times more common than asthma, according to the ADA. But unlike asthma, caries can be prevented. For National Children's Dental Health Month, the ADA wants to help parents and caregivers brush up on the basics of keeping kids' mouths healthy.

Tips include the following:

  • First tooth = first dental visit. When a child's first tooth appears, talk to your dentist about scheduling the first dental visit. Treat the first dental visit like a well-baby checkup and continue checkups as recommended.

  • There's no such thing as "clean" spit. Caries-causing bacteria are passed through saliva. When parents or caregivers "clean" a pacifier or use the same utensil to taste food before feeding children, the bacteria can be passed along.

  • Brushing begins with first tooth. By the time children are 3 years old, most will have a full set of 20 baby teeth. Parents shouldn't wait until then to start children brushing, which should begin when a child's first tooth appears. Visit for recommendations on how to brush, including how much toothpaste to use.

  • Brushing doesn't have to be boring. Keep a sticker chart to track and reward brushing, and play videos to get kids into the habit of brushing for a full two minutes. Get a free, downloadable sticker chart and videos at

Each February, the ADA sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month, a national health observance that brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, other healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good dental health habits to children, their caregivers, teachers, and many others. This year's campaign theme is "Defeat Monster Mouth" and features the McGrinn Twins, Flossy and Buck, who are fighting to defeat Plaqster the Monster.

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