Every year since 1941, the month of February has been a time to focus on spreading awareness about the oral health of America’s children. Childhood is an especially important time to instill good oral care habits, especially since permanent adult teeth are developing.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, cavities are one of the most common chronic childhood conditions in the United States. Experts say preventing cavities can save children from being in pain and reduce the costs of medical and dental care substantially.
Each year the American Dental Association sponsors February’s National Children’s Dental Health Month by choosing a different slogan with a focus on one aspect of oral health. Here are the last three years’ choices and why they are important things to consider when it comes to daily oral care for America’s children.
2018: Brush With Fluoride Toothpaste
This year the focus continues to be on the use of fluoride to help prevent cavities in children. In addition to drinking fluoridated tap water to stay hydrated, which was last year’s theme, the ADA recommends children use toothpaste that contains fluoride for healthier smiles.
“Fluoride helps teeth in two ways,” said Dr. Ken Collins, DDS, a leading family dentist in the Spokane, Washington, area. “It helps developing teeth become strong, and it helps developed teeth remineralize and stay strong.”
Collins recommends supervising children while brushing with fluoride toothpaste to ensure they use the right amount and don’t swallow it.
2017: Fluoride-Infused Tap Water
Last year’s focus during February’s National Children’s Dental Health Month was drinking tap water for the fluoride benefits. Today, a lot of children are drinking bottled water, most of which is not fluoridated. Adding fluoride to drinking water helps prevent tooth decay by as much as 25 percent, Collins said.
“Kids who drink bottled water only are at higher risk for developing cavities because they are missing out on the chance to protect teeth with fluoride on a more regular basis,” he said.
There has been some recent concern with tap water after scares like Flint, Michigan, and research showing lead levels in most drinking water. Some bottled water manufacturers now offer fluoridated bottled water to counter those concerns.
2016: Focus on Sugar
In 2016, the war on sugar was the focus of February. It’s no secret that sugar is bad for our bodies and our mouths, Collins said.
“What happens when you consume sugar is a chemical reaction with the bacteria in your mouth,” he said. “It creates acids that eat away at the enamel of teeth, leaving them weak and vulnerable to decay.”
Cutting back on sugar has been the focus of many public awareness campaigns over the last decade, and statistics show that it is improving some habits, such as soda consumption. Last year bottled water outsold soda for the first time in history.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-368-7788