Episode 1: May the floss be with you!

Dental professionals will be reaching out to local communities and educating teachers and parents on the importance of establishing good oral habits and hygiene early. METRO NEWS SERVICE PHOTO
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Dental professionals will be reaching out to local communities and educating teachers and parents on the importance of establishing good oral habits and hygiene early. METRO NEWS SERVICE PHOTO

February marks the American Dental Association’s 40th National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Dental Jedis across the nation will come together this month to promote oral health for the nation’s youth. Dental professionals also will be reaching out to local communities and educating teachers and parents on the importance of establishing good oral habits and hygiene early.

Tooth decay is the most common disease of early childhood. More kids suffer from tooth decay than asthma. For this reason, the ADA recommends that all children receive their first dental exam by their first birthday.

In addition to looking at your child’s teeth at this exam, the dentist will also evaluate their cheeks, gums and tongue, among other structures. Your Baby Yoda may only have a few teeth by his or her first birthday, and that’s OK – the purpose of this initial visit is to get your child familiar with the dentist and offer parents important information regarding adolescent teeth and upkeep.

Do you have a difficult time brushing your child’s teeth? Join the club. Dentists will be more than happy to share their Jedi knowledge with you.

First of all, start early. Parents should begin brushing their child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. One might say, “This is the way.” By doing so, your child will become familiar with the toothbrush and more readily accept the routine.

You can use a children’s toothbrush or soft, wet towel if your Baby Yoda has just a few front teeth. I let my 1-year-old hold a toothbrush in one hand while I sneak in with another.

Even if your child has spacing between their teeth, flossing is still important. Most grocery stores have colorful and kid-friendly flossers that can make the routine more attractive and help develop the skill.

It’s also a good idea to have your children start to time themselves or you while brushing. A good rule of thumb: Our elementary-age stormtroopers should be brushing twice a day and for two minutes. Be a good Wookiee and start these habits early.

By age 6 or 7, most kids have developed the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth. Until then, Mom and Dad Skywalker are in charge.

No matter who is doing the brushing, try and make it fun. Sing the “Star Wars” theme song while you or they brush, or buy a toothbrush with his/her favorite cartoon character on it. Lightsaber toothbrush, maybe?

I have spoken. May the floss be with you!

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