Splash Into Summertime With Teeth-Friendly Sweet Treats During National Oral Health Month - First Things First
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First Things First Cochise Region Provides Tips for Families to Keep Children’s Smiles Healthy and Cavity-Free All Summer Long

SIERRA VISTA, ARIZ. – (June 1, 2022) June is National Oral Health Month, and the First Things First Cochise Region reminds families of the importance of choosing nutritional snacks and treats for everyone, including those with the tiniest teeth.

It comes as no surprise that the Arizona heat increases children’s requests for cool treats, such as ice cream, popsicles and slushies. This summer, parents may want to consider creating homemade frozen desserts using fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and sugar alternatives to satisfy their kids’ requests. There are many easy recipes online that are sure to put a smile on children’s faces without adding unnecessary amounts of sugar, such as fruit-based homemade popsicles that can also be made into smoothies

In the most recent report conducted in the First Things First Cochise Region, 73 percent of parents indicated that they regularly take their children for dental visits. However, almost half of children in the region (46%) have had tooth decay and almost one-third (31%) have had untreated decay. Additionally, 22 percent of parents in the state who responded to the survey have Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) insurance but are not aware that dental coverage is included.

“Many parents don’t realize that by the age of five, about 60 percent of U.S. children have some type of oral health issue,” says Melissa Avant, First Things First Regional Director for the Cochise region. “This number can be drastically reduced by teaching children good oral hygiene habits at an early age.”

Some major beverage culprits that lead to tooth decay are lemonade, soda, juice and sports drinks. All these beverages have sugar in them, and lemonade and soda are highly acidic too. The best option for young children is water, and milk in moderation. If little ones complain about drinking plain water, try adding fresh fruit, mint, or cucumbers to it for some variety and flavor. And for times when they do drink something sugary, help them brush their teeth right afterward or at least swish water around in their mouths to remove some of the sugary particles left behind.

Finally, the most important element of keeping kids’ teeth and gums healthy is helping them properly brush and floss at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Incorporating a fun element into this routine will make it feel less like a chore and more like an activity they’ll enjoy doing for years to come. There are colorful toothbrushes that play music and light up, fun flavors of toothpaste and floss to try and even apps that play a song for two minutes and encourage thorough brushing.

National Oral Health Month is also a great reminder to schedule bi-annual dentist appointments for the entire family. Your child needs a dental check-up starting at age 1 and every year after that to prevent tooth decay and the need for much more costly dental care later. It’s safe and easy, and dental visits for your child are covered if they are on AHCCCS or KidsCare. To learn more about First Things First and for tips on implementing better oral hygiene into everyday routines, visit https://teeth.firstthingsfirst.org.

About First Things First

As Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First funds early learning, family support and children’s preventive health services to help young kids learn, grow and succeed. Local councils made up of community volunteers determine strategies to meet the needs of children from birth to age 5. To learn more, visit https://teeth.firstthingsfirst.org.