To some, February might mean valentines and chocolate, but for the dental health-conscious, there's another reason February is so special: National Children's Dental Health Month. Sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA), this month is a time to increase awareness about pediatric dental hygiene. By taking some time to talk to your kids about dental health — and even scheduling a dental checkup — you set a good example and precedent for the rest of the year.
Schedule an Appointment
One of the best ways you can celebrate the theme for February is to schedule an appointment at your dentist's office. Regular cleanings should happen every 6 months, and the more exposure to the dentist that you give your kids, the more comfortable they'll be when they visit the office. If you schedule an appointment in February, you'll have the ideal amount of time before a back-to-school checkup in August.
Buy New Toothbrushes
Did you know that you're supposed to replace your toothbrushes every 3 to 4 months? The ADA warns that frayed bristles decrease the effectiveness of a toothbrush. National Children's Dental Health Month is the ideal time to toss out old toothbrushes and grab some new ones. Let your kids pick out toothbrushes with their favorite characters on them and toothpaste that they'll like to use — for example, Colgate® 2 in 1 Toothpaste & Mouthwash — to get them excited about their regular hygiene routine.
Color a Chart
The ADA offers coloring pages and activities online to help celebrate National Children's Dental Health Month. Choose a chart-based coloring page, and have your kids color and customize a reminder to hang in the bathroom as a motivator. After a week of consistent morning and nighttime brushing, offer a reward, such as a fun outing.
Do a Brushing Checkup
If your kids tend to brush their teeth unattended, take some time this month to go with them to the bathroom to supervise their brushing habits. You might be surprised to find that one child brushes with only water and the other skips floss altogether. By performing a brushing checkup, you can see what steps your kids are missing and instruct them in the correct way to brush their teeth.
Because plaque is difficult for kids to see, they may not understand why it's so important to brush — and brush well. A demonstration with your child using a plaque-disclosing tablet will reveal plaque on the teeth. Then, look in a mirror together, and point out areas where plaque likes to hide, such as along the gum line and on tooth surfaces. Invite your kids to brush the color away.
With a focus on oral hygiene and health, National Children's Dental Health Month may be even more important than Valentine's Day this February. By learning about proper dental hygiene as a family, you can get your kids more excited to brush every day and night.