February is National Children's Oral Health Month

February is National Children’s Oral Health Month. Oral health is a serious public health problem for Nebraska school children. Almost 60% of Nebraska school age children have dental disease by the third grade and about 30% have untreated tooth decay. Tooth decay, also called cavities, is the most common long term disease in children. The good news is that nearly all cavities can be prevented with good oral habits and simple treatments from your dentist. Cavities in children that are not treated can lead to delayed growth, problems with speech, and could keep a child from learning and being healthy. Today we would like to share some safe and easy ways that a child’s teeth can be protected for a lifetime.

Good oral cleaning habits such as thorough brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep children from getting cavities. Studies have shown that fluoride is needed in keeping the overall structure of the teeth strong. Fluoride is a very common mineral that is found in some foods and water. This is good because every day we put into our mouths many foods and drinks that also have strong acids and sugars that can be very harmful. Our teeth needs fluoride to battle the germs that these acids and sugars can produce. We can easily find fluoride in toothpastes and mouth washes to make sure children are getting enough of the mineral to fight off tooth decay.

Dental sealants are another means of protection that can help prevent tooth decay. Sometimes our teeth are shaped with deep cracks which can make brushing out the harmful germs difficult. Dental sealants cover the deep cracks of our back teeth, and smooths them into a surface that is much easier to brush clean. Dental sealants are needed most just after the adult back teeth are through. This usually happens when a child is age 6-9 years old. These sealants are often made with a high amount of fluoride in them to help protect teeth even more.

Seeing a dentist on a regular basis is one of the best ways a child can keep a healthy mouth for years to come. Sadly, we only get one set of adult teeth, and we need to take care of them from the moment they come through as children. Problems can happen when a child does not know how to care for their teeth or does not understand how important it is to care for their teeth. So, it is up to all the adults around children to know about good oral health and dental care. Adults must teach good oral health habits from the very start and continue to instruct the child as they grow into adults.

If you or someone you know does not have a dentist, is in need of one, and would like help finding a dental office in your area, please give Four Corners Health Department a call and we can help you find one that fits your needs.

For more information on childhood oral health, call Four Corners Health Department at (402) 362-2621 or toll free 877-337-3573. Or send email to info@fourcorners.ne.gov. Visit our website at www.fourcorners.ne.gov. You can also visit the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation at: www.ncohf.org.