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Sugar Wars: why dental health is important for young children
02/25/16 LICKING COUNTY, OHIO – Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of dental health in children. This year the slogan for the month-long observance is “Sugar Wars.” This slogan emphasizes the fact that sugar and good dental health are common enemies.
 
To ensure good dental health, the ADA and Licking County Health Department recommend children be seen by a dentist beginning as soon as their first tooth erupts, or at least by their first birthday. This allows the dentist an opportunity to spot the beginnings of tooth decay and teach parents how to care for their child’s teeth. Babies’ early teeth can be cleaned by gently rubbing them with damp gauze. When the first molars come in, usually by age 10 months, it’s time to start daily brushing.
 
The ADA recommends using a soft-bristled brush. The brush should be moved back and forth gently using short strokes, making sure the front, back and chewing surfaces of all teeth are reached. Be extra careful around the child’s tender gums.
 
The American Dental Association recommends that parents use fluoride toothpaste for children younger than three years of age. For children under age three, parents should use an amount the size of a grain of rice, as soon as the first tooth appears. For a child between ages three and six, only a pea-sized amount should be used. Do not allow the child to swallow the toothpaste.
 
A parent needs to brush and floss the child’s teeth until the child can do it independently. Children need flossing as soon as they have two teeth that touch together. After brushing, wrap a length of floss around two fingers and guide it between the teeth using a gentle, rubbing motion. Slide the floss up and down along the side of each tooth, and clean the gum line by carefully sliding the floss under the gum in the space between the gum and the tooth.
 
Avoid sweet, starchy or extra sticky snacks. Encourage your child to eat raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Do not put a child to bed with a bottle and do not allow a child to spend hours sipping sweet liquids or milk. Take the “Sugar Wars” message seriously and keep your child on the road to good dental health.
 
For more information, visit www.ada.org or call the Licking County Health Department at (740) 349-6535.
 
“The Licking County Health Department serves more than 160,000 citizens in the Licking County General Health District by preventing disease, protecting the environment and promoting healthy lifestyles with a vision of healthy people living in healthy communities.”
 
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Media Contact: (740) 349-6535

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