Cavity Free Kids – Good Oral Health in Young Children

Cattaraugus & Wyoming Counties Project Head Start is pleased to tell you about our Cavity Free Kids Oral Health Curriculum for children birth through age five and their families. Since 2010, we have provided oral health education to over 1,000 young children and their families in Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties.

The Cavity Free Kids curriculum is designed for use in Head Start and Early Head Start, child care, preschool, home visiting, and other programs and for families to use at home. Cavity Free Kids includes a rich collection of lessons, activities, stories, songs and other resources that actively engage young children in fun-filled, play-based learning and help parents practice good oral health habits at home. Cavity Free Kids makes it easy to teach children about what causes tooth decay and how to prevent it.

Cattaraugus & Wyoming Counties Project Head Start was recently chosen by the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York to act as one of two Hubs who will be providing training in Cattaraugus, Wyoming, Chautauqua and Allegany counties. This is exciting news because hundreds more children will now have access to the Cavity Free Kids curriculum at no cost to their families. For more information about Cavity Free Kids, ask your Family Support Assistant, call our main office at 716-373-2447 or visit the Cavity Free Kids website at http://cavityfreekids.org.

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healthy smiles

Dental Visit Q & A

From six months to age 3, your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon, or cold wet washcloth. Some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger.

Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle. At -will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children. Some children need more frequent dental visits because of increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns or poor oral hygiene. Your pediatric dentist will let you know the best appointment schedule for your child.

Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; most stop by age 2. If your child does not, discourage it after age 4. Prolonged thumb sucking can created crowded, crooked teeth, or bite problems. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively. Unless it is advised by your child’s pediatric dentist, do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 2-3.

“First visit by first birthday” sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.

The most important reason to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (also known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps or at night or when they nurse, continuously from the breast. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

Regular dental visits help your child stay cavity-free. Teeth cleaning remove debris that build up on the teeth, irritate the gums and cause decay. Fluoride treatments renew the fluoride content on the enamel, strengthening teeth and preventing cavities. Hygiene instructions improve your child’s brushing and flossing, leading to cleaner teeth the healthier gums. Tooth decay isn’t the only reason for a dental visit. Your pediatric dentist provides an ongoing assessment of changes in your child’s oral health. For example, your child may need additional fluoride, dietary changes, or sealants for idea dental health. The pediatric dentist may identify orthodontic problems and suggest treatment to guide the teeth as they emerge in the mouth.