How Dental Assistants Can Promote Oral Health in Children

February is Children’s Dental Health Month—a great time to “brush up” on basics with kids

February is a short month, which always seems to go by quickly, but it’s also National Children’s Dental Health Month. This year’s national campaign slogan is “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile,” which reminds us all of the benefits of avoiding those sugary drinks and reaching for water instead.

Here are just a few of the many ways that dental assistants can support their younger patients in maintaining a healthy set of teeth.

Teach the correct techniques for tooth brushing

Sometimes the easiest way to get through to a kid is to show them. If you have a skeleton model of a mouth, grab that and a colorful children’s toothbrush, and show the child the right way to brush. Don’t forget to demonstrate how to use dental floss. They aren’t likely to forget these visual aids! You can also mention mouthwash as a way to keep their mouths free from germs (even if you can’t show it on the skeleton model!).

Keep an eye on the beverages

As this year’s national campaign slogan makes clear, food isn’t the only culprit when it comes to dental health. Shaping kids’ beverage choices can go a long way in protecting their teeth. Even if kids are staying away from soda, water is a much better option than juice. Here are some guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for how much juice children should be consuming daily:

  • 6 and under: no more than 4 to 6 oz. (that’s about one small glass)
  • ages 7 to 18: no more than 8 to 12 oz. (that’s about one large glass)

Tell them: Timing is everything

Your young dental patients should be able to understand why it’s important for them to brush their teeth once before they start their day and once again before bed. (Remind parents that this night time brushing only counts if they don’t eat or drink anything afterwards—except water!) Keeping to this schedule helps kids to maintain a healthy routine.

A useful tip is to suggest to parents that they have kids brush their teeth earlier in the evening, such as after dinner, rather right before bedtime. This way the tooth brushing doesn’t fall by the wayside, even if the child gets sleepy or fussy.

February—National Children’s Dental Health—is almost over, but as a dental assistant, you can promote good dental health with your younger patients throughout the year!

This article is courtesy of the American College for Medical Careers, with a convenient campus in Orlando, FL. Reach out to us for more information about our career training options.