NATIONAL CHILDREN'S DENTAL HEALTH MONTH
By Leah Sigler
The February 2020 is National Children's Dental Health Month, bringing together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health for children. This year marks the 75th anniversary of community water fluoridation. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water. The American Dental Association and oral healthcare specialists are committed to fluoridation of public water supplies as the single most effective public health measure to help prevent tooth decay. More than 70 years of scientific research has consistently shown that an of fluoride in community water is safe and effective and prevents tooth decay by at least 25% in both children and adults. The named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
“National Children’s Dental Health Month has a special meaning now that I am a grandmother,” said Dr. Bonita D. Neighbors, a former member of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention who also served on the National Fluoridation Advisory Committee. “Drinking fluoridated tap water supports my granddaughter’s health through proper hydration and by preventing cavities. As a profession, let’s celebrate with our patients and our community one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century, community water fluoridation. As dentists, we know the important role of pediatric oral health on systemic health and disease prevention.”
Why should we focus on children’s dental health? According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, more than 50 percent of children will be affected by tooth decay before age five. Furthermore, according to the Office of the Surgeon General, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related conditions. These staggering statistics are what keep dentists and other dental specialists awake at night.
In order to combat the silent epidemic of oral disease, it is important to implement preventative measures. For example, the 2-2-2 Rule. Help keep your child’s teeth healthy by using the 2-2-2 rule: visit your dentist two times a year, and brush and floss TWO times a day for TWO whole minutes! How do you get kids to brush their teeth? Many pediatric dentists recommend parents follow the “tell, show, do” model:
Tell: In age-appropriate language, explain how to brush and floss and how those actions keep teeth clean and healthy
Show: Let children watch when mom or dad brush and floss their own teeth
Do: Help children brush and floss their teeth in the morning and before bed and keep a regular routine so they know it’s expected. Continue helping to brush a child’s teeth until age 4 or 5. After that, let them do it themselves, but supervise them until age 7 or 8. both children and adults should brush for two minutes, twice a day
It is time to invest in preventative dental care! According to the American Dental Hygienists Association, every dollar spent on preventative dental care could save $8 to $50 in restorative and emergency dental treatments and potentially more in additional types of medical treatment. A child should see a pediatric dentist when their first tooth appears, or by his or her first birthday. By introducing children to dentists and good oral hygiene early, they will establish life-long healthy habits. These health habits will prevent oral disease in future generations.
For more questions on children’s dental month and how to keep your child’s mouth health, contact one of The TeleDentists’s Oral Health Specialists!