Encouraging oral health: Ways to celebrate National Children's Dental Health Month
Jodie Heimbach, RDH, offers suggestions for promoting oral health during National Children's Dental Health Month.
By Jodie Heimbach, RDH, BS
Children’s Dental Health Day was originated by the American Dental Association in 1949. In 1955, it became Children’s Dental Week, and in 1981 it became a month-long program known as National Children’s Dental Health (NCDH) month.
National Children’s Dental Health month is important to help educate and bring awareness to children, parents, teachers, and health providers of the importance of keeping children’s smiles healthy.
How can you help spread the word on National Children’s Dental Health Month?
- Volunteer to do screenings
- Participate in health fairs
- Volunteer in Give Kids a Smile Program
- Adopt a class
- Visit a preschool or elementary school and provide a home care presentation
- Hand out stickers, flossers, and educational brochures.
For the younger kids, show them the things used at a dental visit—the mirror, the explorer (tooth checker), and the saliva ejector (Mr. Thirsty). Share x-rays; kids love it when they can see the permanent teeth above or below their baby teeth on their radiographs. One year, I taught about dental sealants and used a model to place sealants on teeth, and the kids loved it!
Remember that by celebrating National Children’s Dental Health month you are not only educating children, you are also educating parents, care givers, teachers, and grandparents about good dental habits.
Establishing good home care habits at an early age is the key to maintaining good oral hygiene. To encourage these habits early, make it fun and part of the child’s daily routine.
When no teeth are present, wipe the gums with a wet wash cloth to remove plaque. As soon as a tooth is present, their teeth should be brushed.
Look for small brushes with soft bristles, and bright colors to stimulate interest! As they become a little older choose a brush with their favorite colors, characters, or themes they love such as Crayola, new Monsterz, Lalaloopsy , Power Rangers or Dragons. They will look forward to brushing with their favorite brush!
Sunstar’s new Monsterz have:
- Center, colored bristles to help emphasize a smaller amount of toothpaste for kids.
- Dome Trim bristle design is clinically proven to clean below the gum line.(1)
- Suction cup base holds toothbrush upright, keeping bristles dry and clean.
- TPE handle with thumb pad provides a comfortable grip.
Another great brush to use would be one of Sunstar’s GUM Timer Light toothbrushes. When the brush is activated, it flashes for 60 seconds. This gives both the parent and the child an idea of how long each arch should be brushed for. Some kids like to brush in the dark with the Timer Lights blinking!
The Timer Light is available in three styles Crayola, Power Rangers, and Lalaloopsy.
When capable, let the child help brush first and get them accustomed to you brushing after them.
A wonderful way to expose children to dental floss is the Crayola Flosser. They are colorful, grape flavored, and fluoride coated. These may be used by the parents until the child can manipulate on their own.
Jodie Heimbach, RDH, BS is a graduate of Fones School of Dental Hygiene and O’Hehir University. She has practiced in general, periodontal and pediatric dental practices. She is the past president of the New Jersey Dental Hygienists’ Association. She is a recipient of the Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction, and is the New Jersey District Sales Manager for Sunstar.
1. Bentley CD, Disney JA. A comparison of partial and full mouth scoring of plaque and gingivitis in oral hygiene studies. J. Clin Periodontal 1995; 22:131-135.