February is about more than chocolate and valentines. It’s Children’s Dental Health Month – a time for dentists nationwide to remind parents about ways to keep their children’s teeth healthy. Take this fun True/False quiz to learn 15 facts every parent should know.
The American Dental Association sponsors this campaign each year to raise awareness about oral health. Teaching your child healthy habits early on, along with scheduling routine dental visits, means instilling the habits that can lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
Below are 15 statements that are either true or false. Write down your guesses on a side sheet of paper, then scroll down to read the correct answers!
- Your child’s baby teeth are at risk for cavities as soon as they first appear at around six months.
- You should begin cleaning your baby’s mouth when his or her first tooth comes in.
- If your child is younger than three years old, you should not use fluoride toothpaste.
- Children should brush their teeth twice per day, no matter what age.
- You should wait until your child has two teeth that touch before you begin flossing his or her teeth daily.
- Baby teeth do not begin to develop until the baby is born.
- You should schedule your child’s first dental cleaning by age one.
- If your child grinds his or her teeth, it means he or she has a TMJ disorder.
- Transitioning from a bottle to a cup should happen at one year of age.
- Gummy vitamins are not OK for a child’s teeth.
- You should throw away a child’s toothbrush after they have been sick.
- Milk and juice are OK for your child to have before bed.
- Start discouraging thumb and finger sucking at 3 years of age.
- Avoid pacifiers dipped in sugar, honey or sweetened drinks.
- You don’t need to treat cavities in baby teeth.
- False. You should actually begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping his or her gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
- True. We typically advise that children avoid using fluoride toothpaste until they are able to spit it out after they brush their teeth. Usually, this happens around age three, but every child is different.Before this happens, purchase a fluoride-free, or training, toothpaste.
- False. Even if there are spaces between your child’s teeth, it is good to start forming this habit at an early age. It will promote a healthier mouth down the road.
- False. Actually, baby teeth begin to develop in the womb, and it typically occurs within the sixth week of pregnancy. Adult teeth develop within the jaw bones during the fourth month of pregnancy.The first teeth to cut the surface in your baby’s mouth are the two bottom front teeth, called central incisors. This happens between four to six months of age.
- False. You should schedule your child’s first dental cleaning by age three. By that point, children should have all of their primary teeth. They will also be able to listen to directions and sit still in the chair.However, if you want to schedule an appointment at age one, do it! This one year old visit is an exam only, with home care instructions. We can ensure everything is developing properly to ease your worries.
- False. It is actually common and normal for children to grind their teeth. Children lack the adult surfaces designed to prevent the grinding motion, as their teeth are relatively flat.If your child is grinding his or her teeth, know that 1) it is not stress related, and therefore not a TMJ disorder; 2) they don’t need a nightguard; and 3) this will likely discontinue after permanent adult molars develop.
- True. We know that kids love gummy vitamins, but, unfortunately, they increase your child’s chances of developing a cavity.
- True. Our mouths harbor a lot of bacteria, which live on a toothbrush, even after an illness has passed. It is best to toss the toothbrush after your child recovers from an illness. It is better to be safe than sorry!
- False. Milk or juice is best consumed during the day. If your child drinks either of these before bed, it increases his or her risk of developing early childhood cavities. Stick to water instead.
- True. Before age three, thumb-sucking for children is subconscious. Also, around this age, developmentally, your child should be able to break the habit when given gentle reminders. However, this can vary per child.
- True. This can lead to dental decay.
- False. Cavities in baby teeth need dental attention, too. Children can keep their baby teeth until thirteen or fourteen years of age. If decay is left untreated, bacteria can spread, resulting in an abscess or a more serious infection.
How’d you do? Now that you are an expert, here are a series of activity sheets to print out for your children to complete. It is a fun way to teach them good habits, because, remember, doing so at an early age can lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. What are you waiting for?