From the Harford County Health Department:
The Harford County Health Department reminds the public that February marks the national observance of “Children’s Dental Health Month,” while March focuses on celebrating reading. The Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Office of Oral Health suggests that parents celebrate both at the same time by becoming familiar with a new list of 22 recommended children’s books on oral health created by the Maryland Dental Action Coalition.
The book list supports increased access to oral health information for children, families and health professionals and provides guidance to those who purchase and utilize children’s books to promote oral health. Child-serving organizations, health care professionals, educators and families can access the list online at http://guides.hshsl.umaryland.edu/dentistry/DentalBooksForChildren.
In addition to the book list, an educational bulletin board called “Love That Smile” is available on the DHMH Office of Oral Health website at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/oralhealth. The site offers information on brushing and flossing, oral injury prevention, nutrition, and the importance of fluoride and dental sealants that can be used to reinforce the messages provided in the children’s books.
“Tooth decay is five times more common than asthma in children” states Katy Battani, RDH, MS, Dental Outreach Coordinator for the Harford County Health Department Dental Program.
“Fortunately, it’s preventable. A healthy mouth is important for overall health and poor oral health in childhood can cause problems with eating, speaking, and learning. Cavities not only cause children pain but also can lead to more serious health problems. Each year, more than 51 million school hours are missed across the United States due to dental problems.”
Ms. Battani offers the following tips for preventing tooth decay in children:
• Schedule a child’s first dental visit when his or her first tooth appears, or by the first birthday, see Eccella Smiles contact information to schedule one today.
• Provide children with healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables, and avoid sugary foods and drinks. Give them tap 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. A smear of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) should be used for children under the age of 3 and a pea-size amount should be used for children 3 and older. Children need brushing supervision until seven to eight years of age.
• Your drinking water can be tested to determine if the amount of fluoride it contains is too low to prevent tooth decay. If so, speak to your dentist or physician about the need for fluoride treatment.
• Ask about dental sealants when your child’s back permanent teeth first come in. Dental sealants prevent tooth decay on permanent molars.
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 eighth 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. The Health Department also operates a Dental Outreach Program that is supported by grants from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Oral Health. Services include a school-based Dental Screening Program for Pre-K and kindergarten students in Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) and at the Health Department’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) sites. Beginning in August 2014, the Outreach Program also began a school based Dental Sealant Program in 2nd and 3rd grades in HCPS’s Title I schools that assist in the prevention of tooth decay on permanent molar teeth.
The Maryland Office of Oral Health’s website http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/oralhealth provides links to additional health education materials including a request form to order bulk quantities of free oral health materials; assistance in obtaining children’s Medicaid dental health insurance to receive care from a medicaid dentist (Maryland Healthy Smiles Dental program); and finding public dental services.
Other websites that include oral health tips and resources are Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids (at www.healthyteethhealthykids.org/), the American Dental Association (at www.mouthhealthy.org or www.mouthhealthykids.org), and the National Maternal & Child Oral Health Resource Center (at www.mchoralhealth.org). More information about the Harford County Health Department Dental Clinic’s services is available at www.harfordcountyhealth.com or by calling 443-922-7670.