Families - Oral Health
The following information is designed with you, your family's primary caregiver, in mind. The Indian Health Service (IHS) Head Start Program looks forward to being your family's partner in health. Together, we can improve the health of our children and families -- today and in the future.
Our American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children experience dental cavities in much higher proportions than the general US population. A healthy diet, daily brushing and proper professional dental care are all important parts of the fight against childhood tooth decay.
Here are a few basic things you can do to keep your family's smiles healthy:
- Drink fluoridated tap water.
- Milk or formula left on the teeth overnight causes cavities. Babies should never be put to bed with bottles.
- As soon as babies get their teeth, brush them twice daily every day with a small smear of fluoride toothpaste, especially before bed.
- Provide healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Limit sodas, sweets and refined starches such as chips and crackers.
- Provide sugarless gum with xylitol for your child to chew. Xylitol is a natural sugar used to make some types of mints and chewing gum; use of such products helps to reduce cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. In order for the gum to be effective, xylitol should be listed as the first ingredient.
- Floss your child's teeth once a day.
- Make sure everyone in your family sees a dentist twice a year.
- Babies should be seen by a dentist soon after the first tooth comes in or by the time he or she turns one year old.
- Between 9 and 24 months of age, children should have at least four fluoride varnish treatments by an oral health care provider.
- Children should receive fluoride varnish treatments every three to four months to protect teeth from cavities.
- Consider having dental sealants applied to your child's molars if he or she is found to be at risk for cavities.
Oral Health Tips and Resources for Head Start Families:
BACK TO TOP