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  • CHRISTI BLEVINS

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NATIONAL CHILDREN’S DENTAL HEALTH MONTH

BY CHRISTI BLEVINS

Are you ready for some news you can sink your teeth into? February is National Children's Dental month. You can celebrate by scheduling a dental appointment for your child.


A TOOTH TIMELINE


On average, a baby’s first tooth will come in at about six months. By the age of three, most children have twenty baby teeth. These teeth usually begin falling out at age five or six, making way for permanent teeth.


THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY CARE


In the past, many people thought the temporary nature of baby teeth meant that they didn’t require regular dental appointments. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When a baby tooth is gone before its time, the permanent teeth can shift into the empty space, causing crowding. Healthy baby teeth ensure a child can chew properly and even aid in speech development.


If you have a little one, it is recommended that you schedule a dental checkup by age one.


SOME TIPS FOR A SMOOTH DENTAL CHECKUP


Schedule your appointment for a time of day when your child isn’t overly tired or hungry. Plan on the first visit taking around 30 to 45 minutes.


If you have a personal fear of the dentist chair, be careful not to let your child pick up on your anxieties.

Talk about why seeing the dentist is important with preschoolers. Be enthusiastic!


Schedule your child’s next visit before leaving the office. Most dentists recommend children be seen every six months, but some encourage more frequent visits. This allows the dentist to keep an eye on possible problem areas and tooth development.


You are an expert on your child’s behavior. Discreetly let the dentist know if your child has a history of being fearful, anxious, stubborn.


The best way to have a smooth visit is to protect your child’s teeth between visits. This includes regular brushing and flossing and avoiding sticky and sugary foods.


WHAT TO EXPECT


The dentist will check for cavities and educate you on how to clean your child’s gums and teeth. You will also receive advice concerning thumb sucking and pacifier use.


If your child is a little older, the dentist may do a complete exam of the teeth, gums, jaws, and bite. There may be a gentle cleaning to polish teeth and remove any plaque and tartar buildup. This is the perfect time for your child to receive instructions on proper brushing and flossing techniques, even if they still need a parent’s help. Your dentist may or may not recommend X-rays to diagnose decay. While normally taken at every visit, X-rays are used occasionally to see how baby teeth spacing is affecting the permanent teeth.

Older children may be comfortable heading back to the exam room while you stay in the waiting area. Positive experiences in the dentist chair during childhood can lead to a winning smile for life.

Tracing the Tooth Fairy’s Family Tree


The forerunner to the tooth fairy was Norse. In the late 900s, a tooth fee was paid to children who lost their first tooth. Lost baby teeth were so valued in Scandinavia that they were often made into necklaces worn by warriors for good luck.


The full story of the Tooth Fairy is purely American. The first mention appeared in a “Household Hints” section in the Chicago Tribune in 1908. To make it easier for parents to convince children to pull loose teeth, the author urged children to put their teeth under a pillow for the Tooth Fairy. The advertised going rate was 5 cents per tooth. That’s about $1.50 today.


In many Spanish-speaking countries, the Tooth Fairy is a mouse or a rat. The tooth is placed in a glass of water at bedtime. While the gap-toothed child sleeps, the mouse drinks the water and leaves money or candy. French kids have a mouse, too, but the teeth go under a pillow.


Turkish children bury their teeth for a successful future.In South Africa, baby teeth go in slippers instead of under pillows.


Most kids in Asia throw their lower teeth on the roof while burying their upper teeth

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