February is Dental Health Month and parents are reminded to help teach their children how to take care of their teeth. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, based on the most recent (1999-2004) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 42% of children 2 to 11 have had dental caries (cavities) in their primary teeth. Parents can prevent this from occurring by having their children follow a low sugar diet and brush their teeth every single day.
The Healthy Moms Magazine had the opportunity to discuss children’s dental health with Dr. Sam Weisz, D.D.S who has a dental practice in Libertyville, IL. He has also recently published a children’s book, Sugar Bugs, which is available to purchase on Amazon.com or anywhere books are sold.
What are “sugar bugs?”
The bacteria that cause cavities are playfully called “Sugar Bugs”. These bugs mainly streptococcus mutans feed on sugar in our mouth. The sugar they consume from our teeth creates an acid attack on the tooth that is the main cause of dental cavities.
Why did you write the book?
There was a high need for a book that helped parents self motivate their kids. The book market also lacked a product that fostered a positive way for parents to teach their kids about going to the dentist. Combining these two problems we came up with the solution and “sugar bugs” was born. After much success distributing the book we always get feedback from shocked parents telling us their kids actually tell them they are going to go brush! Now when readers visit the dentist they have expectations of all the fun things that happen at the dentist.
I wrote a book titled Sugar Bugs with the goal of preventing cavities and making the dentist a fun place to visit. Using the book has helped to spread a positive message of oral care across the country. In Chicago I visit local schools throughout the community. All of the programs try to focus on positive actions, words, and phrases to empower students to prevent their dental disease.
What can parents do to help teach their children about proper care of their teeth?
Get them started before their first tooth. Habits form early. Really early. You would never think that the oral hygiene habits you start before your baby even has teeth can have a lasting impact on their oral health. Imagine the feeling you get when you have milk on your teeth and gums. Well babies feel that as well. Use a baby buddy tooth tissue to clean the gums at feedings or before bed. Not only will you help keep their oral environment clean, you are setting your child up to understand the importance of routine and taking care of teeth. This is why we advocate seeing a professional before a child’s first birthday.
Children that form early oral hygiene habits will grow up with less cavities and healthier teeth. The biggest mistake I see parents make is to insinuate that the dentist is a place you go to be scared. Phrases like “it is NOT SCARY” or “it’s going to be okay, I promise the dentist is nice” set the wrong tone . Try using positive words with your child. The best verbiage that you can use comes straight from the Sugar Bugs book. Ideas like “we are going to play at the dentist” or “I’m SO excited that you are going to get meet Doctor Sam. He is a dentist and he is going to look at and count your teeth today.” Combine a good oral hygiene routine with easy visits to the dentist and you will raise cavity free children.
February is National Dental Health Month to recognize and promote the benefits of good oral health. Dentists and the dental field use the month to educate communities about maintaining a cavity free lifestyle. Focusing on children, their guardians, and teachers creates awareness for dental issues and promoting solutions.
For getting started early, I love the Baby Buddy Baby’s 1st Toothbrush and Tooth Tissues by Baby Buddy. They are the best products I’ve seen for infant oral care. As you progress into tooth brushing we have had success in our house with the Baby Buddy 360 Toothbrush , Step one and Step two. When you have a 2 and 3-year-old biting down on the toothbrush nothing has worked better than the 360 degrees of bristles.
Dr. Sam Weisz, D.D.S. practices family dentistry in Libertyville, IL. As a dentist, writer and dad, his goal is to inspire a healthy, cavity-free lifestyle. Dr. Sam provides a safe and fun place for all patients through friendship and humor. He recommends Baby Budy oral care products because they are effective, easy to use and fun. For more information about his dental practice visit: libertyvilledental.com/samuel-p-weisz/