WEST CALDWELL, NJ — In recognition of National Children’s Dental Health Month throughout February, West Caldwell's Orchard Center for Learning provided its students with teachable moments on the importance of proper oral health.

“We were visited by Dr. David Sperling, DDS,” said Erin Moss, director of the Orchard Center for Learning. "The children listened as we learned about good dental heath, how to brush/floss our teeth, and even helped to brush a dragon's teeth."

According to his presentation, tooth disease, although almost entirely preventable, remains the most common chronic disease in children. However, he explained, there are many easy ways to protect teeth. 

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"It is never too early to impart proper oral hygiene with your child," the Orchard School said in the wake of the February events.

The following facts—compiled by The Orchard School through the National American Dental Association (ADA), a Colgate.com article entitled “What is Oral Hygiene? Teaching Preschoolers About Dental Hygiene,” RaisingChildren.net and www.healthychildren.org—were among some of the takeaways from the school's Dental Health Month celebration. 

Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, a baby already has 20 primary teeth, many of which are fully developed in the jaw. Before a baby even starts teething, parents are advised to rub a clean, damp washcloth over his or her gums to wash away germs and bacteria.

Once teeth are present, parents should brush them with an infant toothbrush. Water and a tiny bit of fluoride can be used. The ADA recommends using fluoride toothpaste that carries the ADA seal of acceptance and be careful not to let a child swallow the toothpaste.

Once a baby's teeth touch, parents can begin flossing in between them in order to show the child warly on that brushing and flossing are automatic routines that should be followed every day and night. The ADA also recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday to explain proper brushing and flossing and to perform a modified exam. This will also teach the child not be afraid of the dentist, which is a common fear that can carry into adulthood.

When children are around two years old, parents can teach them to spit when brushing. As the child gets older, parents should gradually enlarge the size of the toothpaste and increas the amount of water bring utilized.

Pediatric dentists are a good resource to use until a child gets older because they are trained to handle the wide range of issues associated with kids' dental health. They also know when to refer parents to a different type of specialist, such as an orthodontist to correct an overbite or an oral surgeon for jaw realignment.

"Good oral health is an important factor in maintaining overall health throughout a lifetime," said Moss. "Creating good habits when your child is very young will establish a strong foundation for a long and healthy life.

“The school wants to encourage learning and make fun, so we have guests like Dr. Sperling, who engage students in a way that makes such an important topic memorable. We talk about healthy teeth and how much fun we had even weeks after the event."

To learn more about The Orchard School, located at 360 Passaic Avenue in West Caldwell, click HERE