By Zuryna Smith, System Communications Intern
National Children’s Dental Health Month was introduced by the American Dental Association as a way to provide crucial information regarding oral health in children.
It started as a one-day event in Cleveland. As the importance of the issue of oral health became more prevalent, the one-day event spanned across a week and eventually became a month-long event that garnered global attention.
The ADA provides health fairs, free dental screenings, and other activities that promote the adoption of healthy oral health techniques. This year’s campaign slogan is entitled “Sugar Wars,” a spin on the sci-fiction film Star Wars.
Tooth decay and loss is one of the main oral health issues that affect children. Preventative care is the only way to deter the loss of teeth. The rule of thumb is to brush two times a day for two minutes each time. In addition to proper brushing techniques, parents should be vigilant in their efforts to keep their children’s teeth shiny and healthy.
Here are a few tips that will encourage healthy dental habits:
- Emphasize the importance of fluoride. Fluoride is a natural chemical that prevents decay and strengthens the enamel of teeth. It can be found in tap water and is also available as a supplement.
- A healthy and balanced diet is a necessity in order to prevent tooth decay. While starches and fruits are essential to a child’s diet, certain foods need to be given in moderation. Starchy and sticky foods tend to stay on the child’s teeth and cause cavities as well as decay.
- Daily cleaning should take place as soon as the child develops their first tooth. A small piece of gauze or a damp cloth can be used to clean the tooth. As the child gets older a toothbrush with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used.
Dental sealants are another method of prevention for young children. Dental sealants are small, plastic coatings that cover the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. It helps to prevent excess food and germs from getting caught in the crevices of the teeth.
University of Maryland School of Dentistry students participated in an outreach program where they provided free sealant treatments to children in need at the Perryville Clinic. The overall purpose of the event was to provide assistance and education to those who would not normally have access to proper dental care providers.
For more information about an upcoming Sealant Saturday event please contact the Perryville Clinic at 410-706-4900.