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Go Ask Mom

Poe Center offers dental health tips, free screenings for kids

Posted February 1

Poe Center in Raleigh to host Terrific Teeth Day, Feb. 4, 2017.

Good dental health translates into more than just a bright smile for kids. It also has an impact on their school experience.

According to Delta Dental, school-aged children miss more than 50 million hours of school each year thanks to toothaches and other oral-health problems. In fact, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease.

The Poe Center for Health Education is raising awareness about the need for better dental health for children with an event this Saturday to kick off Children's Dental Health Month.

Terrific Teeth Day is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, at the center at 224 Sunnybrook Rd., Raleigh. Kids under age 18 can get free dental screenings with the Colgate Dental Bus. They also can take part in a variety of dental health related activities, including tooth fairy pillow making, a magic show, a meet-and-greet with Marshall the Molar and tooth-related stories.

The Poe Center shared some dental health tips that they adapted from the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and New York University College of Dentistry.

Here are 10 ways for kids and families to keep those pearly whites healthy:

Sharing is not caring when it comes to dental health. Do not share eating utensils nor “clean” a pacifier by putting it in your mouth. This can spread bacteria that can cause cavities in your child’s mouth.

Drink fluoridated water or ask your dentist if a fluoride supplement is needed to promote the formation of strong, healthy teeth.

After feeding your infant, clean your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth to prevent the buildup of plaque (soft, sticky bacteria) that can cause tooth decay. Don’t allow your baby to sleep with a bottle or pacifier, as this can also cause tooth decay/cavities.

Take children to the dentist no later than their first birthday for a check-up. Ask the dentist about applying dental sealants to prevent cavities on the surfaces of teeth. Visit the dentist twice per year unless your dentist says otherwise.

As soon as teeth come through the gums, teach your kids to brush twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a thin layer of toothpaste for kids under two. Assist them until they can hold the toothbrush on their own, but continue to supervise proper brushing and flossing (once a day, as soon as teeth are in contact with each other) until age seven.

When choosing a toothbrush, look for soft, rounded bristles that clean teeth, but are gentle on gums. Kids two and up can use a pea-sized dot of toothpaste. Choose smaller toothbrushes for their smaller hands and mouths.

Brush your teeth alongside your kids to set a good example and motivate them to brush their teeth twice a day. They will enjoy imitating you!

Sing or play a song or recite a nursery rhyme for two minutes while they are brushing.

Limit chewy, gooey snacks, such as raisins, fruit snacks, and candy as they can stick to teeth and increase the risk of tooth decay/cavities. Sodas and juices can wear down the enamel that protects the teeth. They can also cause acid buildup that leads to cavities.

If your child has a loose tooth, wiggling it gently with clean hands is OK, but let the tooth come out on its own. Ask your dentist if the tooth begins to bother your child.

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