February is National Children's Dental Health Month
SUMMARY: In February, National Children's Dental Health Month looks to boost awareness about the importance of a problem-free smile. Discover the fundamentals of maintaining quality oral health for kids.
Posted: February 3, 2014
Boosting oral health for kids begins at a young age. In February, National Children's Dental Health Month aims to stimulate awareness about the importance of a healthy smile - not just for the sparkling white side effects, but also to steer clear of cavities. The program has been launched by the American Dental Association, with messages and materials reaching millions of Americans across the country.
Despite being almost 100 percent preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Cavities plague many youngsters, from babies to those in their late teens. In fact, more than 40 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had a cavity in their primary teeth, while more than two-thirds of 16- to 19?-year-olds have had a cavity in their permanent teeth.
Some might wave off the pressure to keep baby teeth clean and cavity-free. However, studies from the National Center of Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that kids with dental caries in their primary teeth are more likely to have them in their adult teeth. Remember, once those pearly whites set in as a young teen, they need to last your whole life! Good habits start early on. Taking measures to eat nutritious meals, limit snacking, floss daily and brush your teeth twice a day are essential in maintaining a bright smile throughout your lifetime.
Why is this so important?
Well, for several reasons. First and foremost, a healthy mouth is the gateway to a healthy body. If children maintain a bright, problem-free smile, research suggests they will have a lower risk for developing issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and oral cancer later in life.
Next, children will be able to stay in class more consistently. Oral problems, like toothaches and gum infections, result in kids missing a total of 51 million school hours, and their parents losing 25 million work hours a year. No one enjoys playing catch-up, so brush and stay in class!
Lastly, staying on top of oral health practices can save mom and dad lots of money down the line. Cavity treatments cost anywhere from $70 to $150, while a root canal runs up to $1,000. Prevention is key here.
The role of adults in National Children's Dental Health Month
Though the spotlight for this month lies on kids, much of the initial support for a healthy mouth stems from parents, their role-models. Encouraging children to develop healthy habits at a young age can last them a lifetime. Make brushing fun by humming songs during the scrubbing session or incorporating games where they benefit from consistently on-par hygiene. It is also the responsibility of parents to ensure that little Johnny or Sara visit the dentist once every six months. Like we mentioned, this means less money out of your wallet in the long run!
It's crucial to point out that kids from rural communities and low-income families are more likely develop oral health problems. Gum disease and cavities make for the biggest issues among these individuals due to limited access to quality dental care and decreased awareness.
The more you know about something, the better chance you stand at protecting yourself against it. If oral health for kids is not at the top of the totem pole, it should at least become a main priority. Think money-saving, brighter smiles and an overall healthy mouth.