February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Developing good dental hygiene habits from a young age and scheduling regular dental visits for your kiddos help give them a great start toward maintaining healthy teeth and mouths for a lifetime.

We at Gordon Dental, North Kansas City Family Dentistry, love taking care of our smallest patients. Dr. Kaleigh Nechvatal offers the following tips to help parents protect little chompers:

1. Establish dental routines at an early age. Dr. Kaleigh says you should begin brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as the first little baby tooth pops out, or at six months old.

2. Decrease snacking. Frequent snacking alters the pH in the mouth, making bacteria more welcome there.

3. Steer clear of sugary drinks. The American Heart Association recommends that children limit sugar-sweetened drinks to 8 ounces per week – that’s less than a regular 12-ounce can of soda. Instead of soda and sweetened juice drinks, choose healthier options for kids, like water and 100% juice with no sugar added.

4. Avoid sticky candy. “It’s the worst,” Dr. Kaleigh says. Sticky candy like caramel and Skittles can get stuck in and on teeth, increasing the risk of decay and cavities. Dr. Kaleigh suggests choosing cheese and yogurt instead, which are anti-cariogenic, meaning they tend to prevent tooth decay rather than cause it.

5. Brush teeth before bed. Don’t let your child go to sleep without first brushing his or her teeth. Brushing before bed is critical because salivary flow is low at night, according to Dr. Kaleigh. Saliva contains minerals that help rebuild the teeth’s enamel. It also can also help neutralize acids in the mouth during and after eating that break down enamel. Skipping brushing at night also means that any gooey food or little pieces of food stuck in or on teeth will likely sit there all night long, which can cause cavities.

Following these guidelines will help protect your child or children’s teeth, but don’t forget the most important step in caring for their smile – make a dental appointment for them every six months, just like you do for yourself. Call Dr. Kaleigh at Gordon Dental, North Kansas City Family Dentistry, to schedule your child’s first dental checkup, beginning at six months. If your child is older but has never been to the dentist, get him or her in as soon as possible for that critical first cleaning and hygiene exam.

Gordon Dental loves our littlest patients and will make sure your child receives the best care and has the best dental experience the first time and every time he or she visits. If your kiddo is scared or anxious about the dentist, our friendly staff will do everything we can to reassure and relax him or her. Or, make an appointment for you and your child, or your entire family, at the same time to reduce some anxiety while setting a good example by caring for your dental health. Call us today at 816.505.2222 or visit www.kcgordondental.com to schedule an appointment. For the best North Kansas City Family Dentistry, your entire family can trust Gordon Dental.