It's easy to be distracted with as we are all busy trying to cram in work, appointments, home maintenance, extracurricular activities and such into a 24-hour day.

However, as a parent it's fair to say we all worry we are doing enough to care for our children properly. There is no better time than the present as February is National Children's Dental Health Month.

Maintaining the health of your child's teeth can be extremely easy with a few simple guidelines.

It all starts with proper home care. Your child's teeth should be brushed in the morning and before bedtime. After brushing before bedtime, it's imperative to withhold sugary food and drinks (yes, even MILK!) Fluoridated water is a great alternative for a bedtime drink.

FLOSS,FLOSS,FLOSS! Even if your child has ample spacing, flossing needs to be achieved only one time per day. Starting your child on a daily flossing regimen sets the standard for a lifetime of good habits.

Something else to keep in mind is that if your child cannot tie his/her shoes by themselves, then they do not have the dexterity to effectively brush on their own.

Consider letting your child brush and then go behind them for a more thorough job. Starting your child at a young age sets the standard for a lifetime of good habits.

We all know kids love candy, pop, energy drinks (high sugar, processed food)! As parents, we need to remember we have the ability to set a limit. We cannot expect them to make healthy choices. Children should be introduced and provided healthy foods and drinks to aid in the development and maintenance of their teeth.

Your child should see a dental professional two times per year. This should start once your child develops his/her first tooth.

Sure, we may not be able to accomplish much clinically, but we can instruct the parent on proper home care or special needs and begin familiarizing your child with sounds and sights of a dental office. Ultimately, it prepares your child for successful dental visits in the future!

Keeping these simple suggestions in mind should simplify your child's dental needs while still ensuring you keep their overall health and development foremost.

Jessica Kelley is a registered dental hygienist for Marshall Health's department of dentistry and oral surgery, which is located at 1616 13th Ave., in the Fairfield Building in Huntington.

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