This month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.

Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Begin using toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth when he (or she) is two years old. Young children tend to swallow toothpaste when brushing, rather than spitting it out. Introduce fluoride toothpaste when your child is old enough not to swallow it. As soon as two teeth touch each other, floss between them once a day. You can use regular floss or special plastic floss holders.

Take good care of your child’s baby teeth. They do eventually fall out but until they do, baby teeth play an important role in helping your child bite and chew food, and speak clearly. Many of the same treatment and evaluation options that adults have are also available to kids. These include X-rays, dental sealants, orthodontic treatment and more.

Cavities can develop when sugar-containing foods are allowed to stay in the mouth for a long time. Bacteria that live on the teeth feast on these bits of food and can eat away at tooth enamel. Saliva washes away the acid between meals, but if your child is always eating, there may not be time for this acid to get washed away.

Sealants, also referred to as dental sealants, consist of a plastic material that is placed on the chewing (occlusal) surface of the permanent back teeth — the molars and premolars — to help protect them from bacteria and acids that contribute to tooth decay. The plastic resin in sealants is placed by a dental hygienist into the depressions and grooves of the chewing surfaces of back teeth and a light is utilized to cure it to the enamel which acts as a barrier, protecting the enamel surface of the teeth from plaque and acids.

Although many countries around the world have unique traditions to mark the loss of a child’s baby teeth, the tooth fairy legend is believed to have originated in the United States in the early part of the 1900s. This custom has remained popular, and even today, many parents search for fun and creative ideas about how to use the tooth fairy story to celebrate the loss of a child’s baby teeth.

 

It is difficult for anyone to comprehend what the tooth fairy would do with the teeth from all the children around the world. Some say that tooth fairies are building a giant castle for their queen from the cleanest and most well cared for teeth, while the substandard teeth are ground down for paving stones. This may be why the tooth fairy leaves more money for some teeth than others. Your tooth fairy letter can hint that if your child wants a bonus under her pillow, brushing thoroughly twice a day is a good way to earn it.

No matter what your family’s preferred tooth fairy looks like, tooth fairies all leave behind a gift when they collect a tooth, and so all parents are faced with the problem of determining how much money to put under the pillow when the tiny tooth collector pays a visit.