February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM)! Your Beaverton dentist, Dr. Barrett, believes this month deserves attention because despite advances in dental care– children’s dental health could stand to see a lot of improvement!
According to the CDC, about 20% of American children between the ages of 5 to 11 years old have at least one untreated cavity, and 13% of older children– ages 12 to 19 years– have at least one untreated cavity. That’s at least one cavity too many.
So what is NCDHM?
Health professionals have been recognizing the need to improve oral health in children for decades. The first national event was not an entire month but a single day: February the 3rd, 1941, in Cleveland Ohio. Since then, the American Dental Association (ADA) has extended this event to an entire month dedicated to learning about and improving oral health care for children.
Today, NCDHM is a nationwide program observed in schools, on army bases, community centers, museums, and more. The ADA’s mission is to raise awareness about pediatric dental health through information, games, and activities, and offers free resources online for organizations interested in participating.
Why the hype?
The ADA– and other health professionals, like your Beaverton dentist– see pediatric oral health as a critical part of children’s current and future health. There are a lot of reasons for this:
- Childhood is when we learn how to take care of our bodies for life; kids learn about nutrition, exercise, and proper hygiene. Learning how to properly care for their oral health empowers kids with information that also applies to the rest of their body, and can be used to sustain good health for the rest of their lives.
- Studies show that people who experience dental caries in their deciduous (baby) teeth are more likely to have cavities later– in their permanent teeth. Getting a jumpstart on oral health not only teaches kids skills they need for a lifetime, but it may decrease their chances of getting cavities later on.
- Oral health is increasingly linked with systemic health. Studies are finding links between gum disease and Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer, just to name a few. Teaching kids about the importance of oral hygiene could literally save their lives!
- A healthy smile builds confidence. Good oral hygiene doesn’t only save time and money and improve overall health– it builds self-esteem. Having a healthy smile gives kids the confidence to ask questions in class, smile at a new classmate, and feel comfortable about asserting themselves.
Join us in making lifelong oral health a reality
At Barrett Family Dental, we focus on preventive care for our pediatric patients. We do this by prioritizing patient education and teaming up with parents to make sure our small patients are getting the support they need both at home and in our office.
Some steps that we recommend parents take:
- Take your child in for his or her first dentist appointment by the age of one.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice daily. For children past the age of two, use a “pea-sized” amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Avoid any sweet drinks like soda or juice– provide milk and water instead.
- Avoid letting your child snack between meals.
Talk to Dr. Barrett, your Beaverton dentist, about other steps you can take to secure your child’s oral health now and in the future at your next appointment. We look forward to working together with you and your family!