By Dr. Linga Vuppala & Dr. Gary Nishimura
Published in the February 7 – February 20, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life
It’s that time of year again. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Our children are the future and we celebrate them and offer to our amazing community some helpful hints and facts about our children’s dental health.
You may not realize that tooth decay can occur as soon as teeth appear in a child’s mouth. Good brushing and flossing habits and regular dental checkups are essential to their oral health and overall health.
Good habits start early in life. Children absorb so much of what we do, and they want to mimic our movements yet still be independent. Make brushing together a fun activity at a very young age, both morning and after dinner (or before bed).
And don’t forget to floss. Toothpastes for children are made with sparkles in them and fun bubblegum flavors that kids love. Pair that with a really cool princess or robot toothbrush and it makes the activity quite easy to convince children to join in.
Most parents think sugars in candy and sodas are the worst for children’s teeth, and while they are one of the biggest culprits, starches in chips and pretzels and breads can be just as bad. Starches convert to sugars in our mouth with saliva and digesting, so these types of foods can be just as much of a concern as sugars.
The key to taking the best care of your oral health is not just what you eat, but what you do just after you eat. If you can’t brush after each meal as is ideally recommended (you may not have a toothbrush with you or a place to brush your teeth), chewing gum will help increase the saliva in your mouth which helps remove food and decay producing acids that were sitting on your teeth.
Make sure it’s sugarless gum, though. Children in school who can’t chew gum after snack or lunch, make brushing their teeth the first priority when they get home from school before starting their homework. Giving sugarless gum as a reward is an excellent way to encourage children.
We encourage our patients with children to start bringing them to their dental appointments at a very early age. Children then are already comfortable with the surroundings and the personnel and know what to expect when it’s their turn. We love to introduce children to Mr. Thirsty and Mr. Ticklebug and counting their teeth.
We encourage mom and dad to have the little ones sit on their lap in the chair and go for a ride and then have their teeth counted. If you have children and they haven’t seen a dentist yet, talk to your dentist to see if you can bring your little one in during your visit or an appointment a sibling has so the child can experience the joys of a good dental check-up.
If you don’t have a dentist, we are more than happy to have you bring your child and whole family in to meet our dentists and staff and see our office.
In celebration of National Children’s Dental Health month, we are holding our second annual coloring contest. We had an incredible number of participants last year, so we wanted to do the same again this year. You don’t have to be a patient in our office to enter. Simply locate the contest picture on the back page of this newspaper, have your child color it and mail it in or bring it into our office. We will pick a winner who will win a Kindle Fire Kids Edition.
We wish everyone, most specially the children of our community, a Happy Dental Health Month and encourage them to “Find a Healthy Smile.”
Dr. Linga Vuppala and Dr. Gary Nishimura are with Gilroy Dental Associates. Contact them at (408) 842-2818.