By Christina Elston
February is National Dental Health Month, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) estimates that 50 percent of U.S. school-age children today have never had a cavity. Here's what the AAPD suggests to keep your kids cavity-free:
1. Home Care - Until your child is 10 years old, supervise brushing after breakfast and before bed, with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Encourage your child to floss daily, and to limit snacks.
2. Fluoride - Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and can even cure early-stage cavities. Talk with your dentist about fluoride supplements, treatments and mouth rinses.
3. Sealants - Kids with sealants on their back teeth have 50 percent less tooth decay after 15 years than children without sealants. Sealants also cost less than half the price of a filling.
4. Sports Protection - Mouth guards are recommended to protect your child's teeth during any sport with a risk of falls or head injuries. The guards prevent about 200,000 injuries each year.
5. Regular checkups - Your dentist can remove plaque, monitor changes in your child's oral health and suggest corrective or preventive measures.
For more information on caring for children's teeth, including how to find a pediatric dentist, visit the AAPD online at www.aapd.org/pediatricinformation/.
Christina Elston is a senior editor and health writer for Dominion Parenting Media. Follow her blog Health-E on Parenthood.com