February Dental Health and Heart Health
February Recognizes Dental Health Awareness and
American Heart Month
Good dental hygiene ensures a beautiful smile but, more importantly, it is good for your overall health. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some pneumonias can be linked to dental health. Twice yearly visits to the dentist can detect and treat oral health conditions and children should begin seeing a dentist and brushing their teeth when their first teeth erupt. Most dental problems are preventable so teaching children about daily care is imperative.
Teach children how to brush and monitor their technique until they have mastered the coordination to do a thorough job. Encourage twice daily brushing for two minutes. Demonstrate angling the bristles towards the gumline and brushing gently using small circular motions on all sides of each tooth and the tongue. Fluoride toothpaste is recommended after six years old. Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 to 4 months.
Teach children how to floss at least once a day to remove food and plaque. For a pictorial on proper flossing, please visit this link: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/oral-hygiene
In lieu of sugary drinks and sticky snacks offer water and natural foods as snacks. Drinking water indirectly helps with dental hygiene by aiding saliva in fighting bacteria and plaque.
Heart Health month recognizes the importance of heart healthy lifestyles. While some risk factors like age, sex, race and family history cannot be changed, many risk factors can. Diet, high cholesterol, smoking, weight, stress and a sedentary lifestyle are risks that can be controlled. This is why it is so important for children to develop heart healthy habits at a young age.
Encourage healthy eating in your children.
- Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals to fight cardiovascular disease.
- Teach them the difference between “bad fats” that are solid at room temperature (butter, lard, fats from meat, creams) and heart healthy oils (walnuts, almonds, olive oil and olives).
- Serve low fat proteins. Omega-3 oils in some fish actually reduce triglycerides. You may also introduce skim or low fat milk gradually by mixing it with whole milk.
Be active. It is recommended that children have 60 minutes of activity a day; adults at least 30 minutes. Teach your kids that being active doesn’t mean you have to pant and sweat. Explore different types of activities. Some ideas include biking, hiking, walking, team sports, yoga, swimming and skiing.
Manage Stress. Help kids recognize stress and anxiety (stomach aches, headaches, extreme emotions, trouble sleeping, or eating) and encourage some down time, time doing their favorite activity or yoga. Kids also need time to reset and recharge.
Happy February! Here’s to a healthy smile and healthy heart!