February is designated as Children’s Dental Health Month

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February is designated nationally as Children’s Dental Health Month. The month-long health observance brings together dental professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.

Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning. “Good oral health is a necessity for good overall health,” said Toni Hruby, Oral Health Prevention Coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH). “Parents and caregivers can help children develop good oral health habits early in life to ensure they have a healthy mouth and body.”

This year’s campaign slogan from the American Dental Association is “Sealants Make Sense.” This fits in perfectly with one of the ways the NDDoH’s oral health program is helping to meet the needs of children statewide through SEAL!ND, a school-based sealant program. This program utilizes public health dental hygienists, private practice dentists and Federally Qualified Health Center’s to provide oral health education, dental screenings, dental sealants and fluoride varnish treatments to thousands of at-risk children across the state. “Schools are an ideal place to reach children, teachers and caregivers,” said Hruby. “Through these collaborations, we are able to expand the reach of children served across the state.”

Although it has been challenging to provide services in schools since the COVID-19 pandemic began, SEAL!ND has been able to provide screenings for 4,468 students, protect 7,636 teeth with dental sealants and refer 1,071 students for further oral health treatment during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.

To help build a healthy smile:

  • Brush your teeth at least two times a day with fluoridated toothpaste
  • Floss your teeth daily
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Drink tap water and limit sugary drinks and snacks
  • Avoid using cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and electronic nicotine or vaping products
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months and after an illness
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings
  • Talk to your dentist about fluoride varnish and sealants for your child
    • Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that is painted on teeth to help prevent cavities and to help slow or stop cavities that have just started.
    • Sealants prevent cavities by creating a barrier between the teeth and cavity-causing bacteria. Sealants also stop cavities from growing and can prevent the need for fillings.

For more information, visit www.ndhealth.gov/ or contact Toni Hruby, NDDoH, at 701-328-2356.

 

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