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4 Ways Dental Assistants can Promote Childhood Dental Health

national children's dental health dental assistant tipsCelebrate Children’s Dental Health Month with Tips for Oral Health

February is almost over, but it’s not too late to celebrate the oral health of kids everywhere with National Children’s Dental Health Month! This year’s national campaign slogan, “Sugar Wars”, educates children on why maintaining oral health is important.

If you’re a Dental Assistant, or training to become one, part of your job is to help educate and promote the well-being of your youthful patients’ teeth. Although it can be hard for kids to stick to routines, showing them and their parents these simple tips can help.

Here are four ways you can help kids maintain healthy teeth and avoid high-sugar foods.

1. Right ways to brush teeth

Kids sometimes learn best by example. Take a toothbrush and a skeletal mouth model to show young patients how to brush their teeth properly. Remind them to use dental floss and mouthwash to keep their mouth germ free. When you demonstrate brushing teeth, remember to use a colorful kid’s toothbrush to capture their attention.

2. Healthy snack options

Kids, and even adults, gravitate toward sweet and sugary snacks. You can teach kids how damaging high sugar snacks like candy are to their teeth. Inform your patients that healthy snack options can taste great as well. Talk to the child and parent about what flavors they enjoy eating. Give them options or sources for creative ideas that are high in fiber, vitamins, and protein.

Some healthy snack alternatives include:

Let parents know that drinking lots of juice can also lead to tooth decay. For children up to 6-years-old, advise parents to give them no more than 4-6 ounces of juice per day. Children ages 7-18 should drink no more than 8-12 ounces of juice per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

3.Timing

Timing can be crucial when it comes to tooth problems. Teach your young dental patients to brush once in the morning and once at night. Tell them and their parents not to eat anything after they’ve brushed for the night.

Also, remind parents to start brushing children’s teeth earlier in the evening. If it gets too close to bedtime then the child could become too ornery or tired. Keeping to these time schedules helps maintain a healthy routine.

4.Advice for fussy kids

If parents mention that their kids make a fuss when brushing their teeth, dental assistants or hygienists can advise parents to:

  • Be patient: Remind parents that most kids need help brushing their teeth until they are 6 years old. Most kids don’t properly floss until they’re 10. Parents should remember to keep a watchful eye on their kid’s teeth with six-month checkups.
  • Brush and floss with them:  Brushing teeth can be a social activity and it might be a fun time for kids to be with their parents. If parents brush your teeth with their children, they can monitor a child’s progress.
  • Let kids decide: If kids can choose the color of toothpaste or the type of toothbrush they use, it may make them want to brush their teeth.
  • Make a rewards system: For young kids, a gold star reward may help them remember to brush their teeth. It’s easy to promise them simple rewards, like reading their favorite book before bedtime.

Although National Children’s Dental Health is celebrated only in February, dental assistants can use these healthy tips to promote childhood oral health year-round.

This article was provided by the Harris School of Business, with locations near Philadelphia, PA, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware. Our Dental Assisting program–offered in Upper Darby, PA, Vorhees, NJ, and Wilmington, DE–is proud to be preparing the dental assistants of the future! Get in touch if you want to find out more!