Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids
Did you know that dental caries, or cavities, is the most common chronic disease found in children? It is five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever. In Maryland, 32.6 percent of kindergarteners and 29.7 percent of third graders have tooth decay, according to the 2005-2006 Maryland Oral Health School Survey. If tooth decay remains untreated, it can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning.
To highlight this important issue, February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. The American Dental Association (ADA) held the first national Children’s Dental Health Day in 1949. In 1981, this was extended to the month-long celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month in order to promote good oral health care habits.
With good habits, tooth decay can be prevented. Taking care of children’s teeth – including baby teeth – from the very start helps children develop lifelong healthy habits. It is important for parents to teach their children good oral (dental) health care habits, including proper brushing with fluoridated toothpaste (the amount of toothpaste you place on the toothbrush depends on your child’s age), flossing techniques, eating nutritious foods and regular visits to the dentist. Steps such as these will help ensure that children will have a healthy mouth, as well as a healthy body.
Parents should supervise brushing until children are seven to eight years old. Children learn good oral health care habits from their parents, so it is important to be a good role model.
Other important oral health tips include:
  • Brush for two minutes, twice a day
  • Visit the dentist by child’s first birthday or when the first tooth appears
  • Clean baby’s gums before teeth come in using a soft cloth
  • Give children milk or water instead of sugary drinks
  • Ask your dentist about fluoride treatments and dental sealants
  • Smoking is bad for your health, including your oral health. Smoking during pregnancy can impact the health of your unborn child.  Call the Quitline for tips on how to quit, 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit
For more information visit: or