February is National Children's Dental Health Month

  • Published
  • By 66th Medical Squadron
  • Dental Clinic
February is National Children's Dental Health Month and is intended to raise awareness about the importance of oral health in children. This year's national campaign slogan is "Sugar Wars."

The campaign is sponsored each year by the American Dental Association.

The ADA held the first national observance of Children's Dental Health Day on Feb. 8, 1949. The single day observance became a weeklong event in 1955. And in 1981, the program was extended to a monthlong celebration known today as National Children's Dental Health Month.

As part of this year's campaign, the 66th Medical Squadron focuses on what children are eating.

Do you know what your kids are consuming when not with you? At home, children are monitored on what they eat, and only consume what is available to them. Often when children are in school, they have access to other items.  When given options and provided with their own means, children are able to purchase sugar-loaded items.

Tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood disease according to the ADA. Recent studies show that 25 percent of school-aged children have significant tooth decay. Dental decay can affect the quality of life and self-esteem of your child.

Decay begins with plaque, which is a form of bacteria that breaks down healthy tooth structure. The longer plaque is allowed to sit on the teeth, the more damage it does.

Sipping drinks that contain sugar can actually further the problem. It is better to finish a drink in one sitting, rather than sipping on it the whole day because the sustained sipping feeds the bacteria with sugar.

A rinse with water between sips or switching to sugar-free drinks is beneficial. To prevent tooth decay, proper brushing, flossing and diet are important.

Additionally, annual dental check-ups are also important for early detection of tooth decay to avoid serious problems.

Limiting the amount of high-sugar food and drinks can greatly improve a child's oral health.

Some suggestions are to pack a healthy snack such as fruit, vegetables or nuts for children to eat. Healthy snacks may not be a child's first choice, but it is definitely best for their teeth and overall health.

The attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining good oral health throughout life. By participating in the annual celebration of National Children's Dental Health Month, members of the dental team, parents, teachers and others can help keep children's smiles beautiful now and for years to come.

For further information on dental health, visit the American Dental Association website at www.ada.org or contact the 66 MDS Dental Clinic at 781-225-6324.