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FOR RELEASE: February 1, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Smile -- February is National Children's Dental Health Month

This year's National Children's Dental Health Month observance, "Be Part of the GrIN Crowd," emphasizes the importance of dental clinical care, public health education, and prevention to help keep children's smiles beautiful now and for years to come.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), state and local dental societies, dental alliances, and county health departments use the month of February to spend extra time educating both children and parents about the importance of good oral health. Public health officials said attitudes and habits regarding oral health formed by children at an early age are critical to maintaining a good smile and good health for a lifetime.

"Explaining the methods dentists use to prevent tooth decay is part of the prevention focus during this special month," said Dr. Michael Morgan, chief of the OSDH Dental Health Service. One such method is the use of dental sealants, a protective material the dentist applies to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Dental sealants fill in pits and grooves to keep food from sticking on the teeth and protect the teeth from cavities.

"Applying dental sealants takes only a few minutes for each tooth and they usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. They are a good investment in maintaining a healthy mouth," said Morgan. He also recommends annual dental checkups, daily brushing and flossing, and making sure children receive needed dental care.

Dental health tips for parents and caregivers include:

  • Take your child to see the dentist every six months, beginning by the child's first birthday.
  • Put only water in a child's naptime or bedtime bottle.
  • Start brushing as soon as the first tooth erupts.
  • Begin flossing when two teeth begin to touch.
  • Brush and floss your child's teeth daily until the child can be taught to do this alone.  (A child normally develops manual dexterity to brush and floss by themselves about the third grade.)
  • Make sure your child gets the fluoride needed for decay-resistant teeth.  Ask your physician or dentist how this should be done.
  • Ask about dental sealants.  A sealant is a protective barrier that shields the chewing surfaces of back teeth against tooth decay.
  • Your child should use a mouth guard (mouth protector) when playing contact sports.
  • Make sure your child does not use any form of tobacco.
  • Your child should not participate in tongue or lip piercing.

For more information about children's oral health, contact a county health department near you or a local dentist.


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