February 2nd, 2017
According to the Center for Disease Control, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. They go on to report that 20% of children age 5-11 and that 13% of adolescents age 12-19 have at least one untreated decayed tooth. This is one reason the American Dental Association focuses on children’s dental health each February.
Left untreated, tooth decay may lead to pain, low self-esteem, difficulty socializing and sleeping, impact speech and eating, as well as affect overall health.
The U.S. Surgeon General’s office reports that an estimated 51 million school hours were lost annually due to dental-related illness. Similarly, a study of school children in North Carolina published in the American Journal of Public Health found that "children with poor oral health status were nearly 3 times more likely ... than were their counterparts to miss school as a result of dental pain."
The answer lies in education for children, teachers and their caregivers, and access to quality dental care providers.
TIPS FOR DENTAL HEALTH
Here are some things parents and caregivers can do to ensure children’s dental health:
- Teach children to brush at least two times each day to remove food from their teeth and prevent bacteria that cause decay.
- Limit sugary drinks and snacks that can cause decay. Water is best since it creates an environment bacteria don’t like.
- Protect your child’s teeth with fluoride by using a fluoride toothpaste. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist if your child needs a fluoride varnish or fluoride supplements
- Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants to protect teeth from decay
- Have your child visit a dentist for a first checkup by age 1, and then regularly as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
RESOURCES FOR YOUR CHILDREN
The ADA provides fun educational activities for children to help parents, caregivers and teachers teach the importance of good dental health. Download these for your kids!
Make it a habit! Use this calendar to keep track of brushing
Choose tap water coloring page
On the Go! Learn why Buck and Flossy choose tap water and healthy snacks, and follow the 2 Minutes 2 Times” rule for brushing.
What to choose? This fun activity page helps kids determine choices for good oral hygiene.
For more information on National Children’s Health Month, visit http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month. To have a Dental Hygienist visit your school to talk about good dental hygiene, contact us!