In honor of National Handwashing Awareness Week, which takes place each year during the first week of December, we invite you to talk to your child about the importance of handwashing and keep those germs out of your child’s mouth!
Your child’s mouth is home to about 700 species of including germs like bacteria, fungus, and more. While some of these microbes are helpful, others can lead to tooth decay and/or gum disease. Microbes become problematic when they turn into a sticky film on kids’ teeth called plaque.
One of the best ways to fight the negative effects of microbes is to keep your child’s mouth clean. Brushing, flossing, and mouthwash are standard, daily measures for helping to keep the mouth clean. But what about microbes that enter the mouth from the things you touch. Little children have a hard time remembering not to put their fingers in their mouths–especially if they are thumbsuckers. But adult kids (and adults) do this too. Some do it through a habit like nailbiting. Or perhaps they like to lick their fingers clean after a yummy treat or snack. Some use their fingers like dental floss when they get something stuck in their teeth. There are a myriad of ways that our hands or fingers may come in contact with our mouth.
Which leads to the importance of handwashing!
Did you know that four out of five people don’t wash their hands after they use the bathroom?? Scary fact. Washing hands (with soap) can cut school sick days by half. Handwashing also supports child survival, good nutrition, school attendance and greater productivity, according to WaterAid.
Teaching kids to wash their hands can be fun. It involves five easy steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. Handwashing should last a minimum of 20 seconds. Come up with a song that you can sing with your child while they wash their hands. A common one is the ABC song.
When you wash your hands is also critical. The most important times are before eating, after using the bathroom, after touching pets, after playing outside, after coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose. Kids need frequent reminders when they are learning a new skill or developing a positive habit.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Development, handwashing is one of the best ways to protect your family from getting sick.
Brushing and flossing help to keep your mouth clean. But after you brush and floss, germs grow again and more plaque forms. That’s why you need to clean your mouth regularly.
Working to help your child develop good handwashing skills is key for helping to prevent oral bacteria from getting out of control and leading to early childhood tooth decay.
Early childhood tooth decay refers to when a preschool-age child (birth and 6 years) has one or more decayed, missing, or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 42% of children 2 to 11 have had dental cavities in their primary (baby) teeth.
Early childhood tooth decay triggers oral pain and infections that cause eating problems, difficulty speaking, disruption to regular playing and learning. Learn what you can do to prevent this from happening.
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides charts and brochures on protecting tiny teeth that you can download, print and hang-up in your bathroom or home to assist you and your family with preventing early childhood tooth decay.
Call Li’l Sunshine Smiles at 813-576-0200 to schedule a consultation to learn more about early childhood tooth decay and to get your little one seen!