Children’s Dental Health Month has been celebrated each February since 1981. During the month, thousands of oral health professionals such as hygienists, dentists, and pediatric dentists help to promote the benefits of good oral health to children (and adults).
The Southcentral Foundation Dental Clinic is dedicated to promoting and providing oral care to more than 65,000 Alaska Native and American Indian customer-owners in the Anchorage Service Unit. The clinic and employees provide education at preschools, health fairs, and events sponsored by communities and Native corporations throughout the year.
According to the American Dental Association, Alaska Native children have some of the highest rates of decay in the United States. SCF Dental is committed to providing quality dental care and education, but encourages everyone to do their part to promote oral health 365 days a year. When children learn, from an early age, the importance of good oral health, we can be successful in reducing decay in Alaska Native and American Indian people.
Oral care is a shared responsibility and extends beyond annual visits to the dentist. It is important for anyone caring for a child, including caregivers, medical providers, and teachers, to promote a healthy lifestyle, which includes daily oral care, nutrition, and education.
Parents can be positive role models by caring for their own teeth and showing children that brushing and flossing are important habits of a healthy lifestyle. Aunts, uncles, and grandparents can help by giving children healthy snacks. When a child is at a sleepover, encourage brushing before bedtime to reduce the risk of cavities.
Medical providers can remind parents to schedule their child’s first visit before or as soon as their teeth start to become visible in the mouth, and to schedule annual visits for older children. Providers can ask about habits such as brushing and snacking, to incorporate a risk assessment into their well-baby exams. Pediatricians can apply fluoride varnish at visits.
Daycare facilities can provide healthy snacks that are teeth friendly such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheese, and can encourage brushing after meals while at school. Teachers can incorporate activities to have children learn about teeth and their importance, or ask a dental professional to present to their class.