February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Each year in February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month (NCDHM) to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. NCDHM messages and materials have reached millions of people in communities across the country.(1) Beginning to instill good habits at an early age and scheduling regular oral health care visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of a healthy mouth. The ADA has free online resources that can help you with oral health presentations, ideas for the classroom and coloring and activity sheets that can be used as handouts. They have booklets, videos and other materials available for purchase through the ADA Catalog. Please direct all questions to [email protected]. Materials such as posters, Fun Activity Sheets for Kids, and other resources for presentations are also available, many in English and Spanish.(2,3) There are many other resources available for Children’s Oral Health.(4)
(3) On an International Level, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has just published “THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2014 IN NUMBERS. EVERY CHILD COUNTS. Revealing disparities, advancing children’s rights.”(5)
The report outlines health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, education, child protection, child mortality rates, and much more information. There are a variety of indicators used, such as comprehensive knowledge of HIV, care for pneumonia and diarrhea, primary and secondary school enrollment, and many others.
(5) Many are celebrating National Children's Dental Health Month, including the 78th Dental Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. Children can visit the Robins Child Development Center, meet Alex the Alligator, and participate in the education provided for the children on proper oral hygiene and nutritional habits.(6) Others are celebrating “Give Kids a Smile Day.” The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend children have a dental visit before their first birthday. Even at this young age, the child can be examined and the caregiver provided with valuable information on feeding habits, teething and proper oral hygiene. Most children start getting teeth around the age of 6 months and have all 20 deciduous teeth by 3 years of age. As soon as teeth erupt, decay can occur. For this reason, children should never be put to bed with a bottle, and parents should avoid prolonged exposure to sugary liquids. Nationwide and worldwide, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, causing children to miss more than 52 million hours of school each year. Yet, with proper hygiene and good dietary choices, a visit to the dental office, we can help to prevent problems. To keep children healthy and decay-free, parents should choose healthy snacks like fresh fruits, vegetable, yogurt and cheese. Healthy fruits and snacks are important, but parents should also encourage their children to avoid sweet drinks like soda, sports beverages and tea sweetened with sugar. There are many products for children; here are a few, not an exclusive list!
(11) What will you do to embrace our children and prevent oral health issues in this vulnerable population? We must be advocates for those who are unable to advocate for themselves.
References 1. http://www.ada.org/5578.aspx. 2. http://www.ada.org/images/pageSupport/newsAndEvents/Teen_English_poster_letter.pdf. 3. http://www.ada.org/images/pageSupport/newsAndEvents/YOUTH_SUPERSMILE__POSTER_LETTER.pdf. 4. http://www.masscoalitionfororalhealth.org/educational-resource-recommendations/curriculum-school-based-resources/. 5. http://www.unicef.org/sowc2014/numbers/?goback=%2Egde_120372_member_5835401951109464065. 6. http://www.robins.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123378622. 7. http://orthogami.com/wp-content/uploads/gumchucks_brochure.pdf. 8. http://www.gumbrand.com/dental-health-for-kids-teeth/. 9. http://www.gumbrand.com/dental-health-for-kids-teeth/. 10. http://www.colgate.com/app/Kids-World/US/HomePage.cvsp. 11. http://www.oralb.com/products/pro-health-for-me-floss-picks/.