February is Children’s Dental Health Month.

In 1941, a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, to raise money for a children’s dentist office went viral. By 1949, February 8th became National Children’s Dental Health Day. Three decades later, in 1981, the American Dental Association extended the event to the entire month of February.

In honour of Children’s Dental Health Month, here are the top 8 tips for keeping kids’ mouths healthy and their smiles bright.

Promote children’s dental health with good oral hygiene – EARLY!

Get your kids into the habit of cleaning their teeth right from the get-go. After a bottle or nursing, clean your baby’s gums with a water-soaked gauze pad or damp wash cloth. This will help them get used to the ritual and make it easier when you switch to brushes.

Brush gently

Get your kids excited about brushing by making it comfortable for them. The harder you push, the more uncomfortable it becomes  and there’s no evidence that brushing harder makes a difference.

Stress technique

At three years old, start teaching your kids to brush their own teeth. But you should always follow up their brushing by brushing their teeth again. And stress proper technique like getting to the back teeth and brushing the tongue. By age six, your child should be able to brush their teeth on their own. At that point you can teach them flossing. They should be able to floss independently by age nine.

Do a fluoride check

Most tap water is infused with fluoride, which is good for teeth. If your water supply isn’t, think about fluoride supplements for your child.

Don’t let your child go to sleep after drinking anything but water

Long-term exposure to the sugars in milk or juice dramatically increases the potential for decay.

Avoid sugar

Saliva takes a minimum of 30 minutes to neutralize the acids caused by sugary foods. Steady sugary snacks lead to an ever-present level of acid in your kids’ mouths, increasing the chances for tooth decay.

Childproof your home to avoid dental accidents

Research has shown that most dental injuries in children under 7 are related to banging into furniture.

Get your kids to the dentist

Find a dentist  you like and establish a long-term relationship.