From the Harford County Health Department:
Bel Air, MD – February 5, 2015 – February is the observance of National Children’s Dental Health Month, placing emphasis on the need for parents and caregivers to take action early to ensure the health of their children’s teeth.
A healthy mouth is important for overall health. Poor oral health in childhood can cause problems with eating, speaking, and learning. Cavities can cause children pain and serious health problems. Each year, more than 51 million school hours are missed due to dental problems. Fortunately, with good oral health care habits, tooth decay can be prevented.
–Schedule a child’s first dental visit when his or her first tooth appears, or by the first birthday.
–Provide children with healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables, and avoid sugary foods and drinks. Give them water to drink between meals.
–Brush your child’s teeth with toothpaste that has fluoride at least twice a day for two minutes. The amount of toothpaste that goes on the toothbrush depends on the child’s age. Children need brushing supervision until seven to eight years of age.
–Ask your child’s dentist about the need for fluoride treatment.
–Your drinking water can be tested to determine if the amount of fluoride it contains is too low to prevent tooth decay. If so, ask your dentist or physician about fluoride tablets or drops.
–Ask about dental sealants when your child’s back permanent teeth first come in.
Health Officer, Susan Kelly, states “Taking care of your children’s teeth, including baby teeth, from the very start is the key to good oral health. A child should visit the dentist when his or her first tooth appears, or by his or her first birthday.” She goes on to stress to parents and caregivers the importance of serving as role models and teaching their children good oral (dental) health care habits, including proper brushing and flossing techniques, eating nutritious foods and making regular visits to the dentist. “As a result of opening our dental health clinic on March 31, 2008, the Health Department offers dental services to children who may never before have had a dental exam . . . in a county with one of the highest rates of dental disease in the state.”
The Health Department’s Dental Clinic, located at 2204 Hanson Road in the Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center in Edgewood, provides dental care to children ages 1 – 20 who are enrolled in the Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHP) and to pregnant women on MCHP. This springtime, the facility celebrates its sixth anniversary responding to the oral health care needs of nearly 7,100 children and pregnant women enrolled in the Medical Assistance Program by providing general and preventive dental care including cleanings, oral examinations, fluoride treatments, fillings and sealants.
Says Katy Battani, RDH, MS, Dental Outreach Coordinator for the Harford County Health Department, “Early education and support services are key to preventing tooth decay in children and our dental outreach programs provide us with the opportunity to educate children and families about the importance of a healthy mouth on overall body wellness. Children need brushing supervision until seven or eight years of age. For example, parents need to know to brush their child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste every morning and every night before bed for two minutes. For children younger than 3 years, use no more than a smear of fluoride toothpaste and for children 3 years and older, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.”
The Health Department also operates a Dental Outreach Program that includes a school-based Dental Screening Program for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) and provides a similar program in the Health Department’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) sites located in Edgewood, Aberdeen, and Elkton. Beginning in August 2014, the Outreach Program began a school-based Dental Sealant Program in 2nd and 3rd grades in HCPS’s Title I schools. Dental sealants assist in the prevention of tooth decay on permanent molar teeth. To-date, the Dental Sealant Program has applied over 900 sealants. These programs are supported by grants from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Oral Health.
For more information about Harford County’s public health dental clinic or to schedule an appointment, please call (443) 922-7670. Visitors to The Maryland Office of Oral Health website at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/oralhealth can test their dental knowledge by playing a variety of user-friendly games. Additional information on childhood dental health can be obtained by visiting the American Dental Association’s website at www.mouthhealthykids.org or the Maryland Dental Health Action Coalition at www.healthyteethhealthykids.org.