Good oral health is important to overall health and to school and life success. This is why we welcome National Children’s Dental Health Month as an opportunity to focus on good oral health habits for both children and their families.

In the United States, oral disease causes children to miss 51 million school hours and adults to lose 164 million work hours annually. Establishing and encouraging an oral health routine at home keeps tooth decay and other oral problems at bay for the whole family, which means less missed work and school.

Encouraging good oral hygiene habits early in a child’s life is essential. According to a survey released by the Ad Council, less than half of U.S. parents report that their children brush their teeth twice a day or more. It is important for parents to make sure their child is brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing daily and visiting the dentist regularly. During a routine dental visit, the dentist can also look for signs and symptoms of other health problems like diabetes and gum disease.

Good oral health is strongly linked with overall well-being for adults, too. Americans are nearly twice as likely to report their overall well-being as good or better if they report their oral health as good or better. There is less of a chance that more serious oral health problems will develop if good habits are consistently practiced, such as brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly. Additionally, this means parents are more likely to pass their good oral health habits along to their children.

Don’t know where to begin? Here are some tips for establishing good dental habits for the whole family:

  • Don’t share toothbrushes. Toothbrushes harbor germs that can transfer from mouth to mouth, which increases risk of infection. Replace toothbrushes every three months, when they look worn or after being sick.
  • Brush as a family. Make the twice daily habit a family affair. When children see their parents regularly brushing and flossing, they are more likely to follow suit.
  • Keep healthy, tooth-friendly foods and beverages around the house. Damaging acids form in your mouth every time you eat a sugary snack. When it comes to family meals and packing lunches, load up on veggies, fruits and whole grains to protect against tooth decay. Choose water or low-fat milk instead of soda pop and juice drinks.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. Seeing the dentist regularly not only teaches children the importance of maintaining good habits at home, but it also may help detect other health problems in their early stages.

To learn more about children’s oral health, see our web site where you’ll also find our “From Drool to School” video.

About Delta Dental: As the state’s largest dental benefits carrier, Delta Dental of Indiana offers a full range of individual and group dental plans for more than 680,000 people. Through education, philanthropy and advocacy, Delta Dental of Indiana is bringing oral health within reach for Indiana children and adults.