Tips for teeth: National Children’s Dental Health Month

Courtesy photograph

General dentist, Capt. Josephine Nguyen, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron (center), talks to children about healthy dental habits at the Child Development Center Feb. 24. She was assisted by Airman 1st Class Corrina Little, 412th AMDS dental assistant (left).

In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, the Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Dental Clinic provided dental education to 471 children from preschool to 2nd grade at the Child Development Center Feb. 24 and at Branch Elementary School Feb. 27, 2017. 

This endeavor was headed by Tech. Sgt. Terina Waiganjo, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, and had the overwhelming support of dental providers and technicians alike. 

Education efforts included dental presentations designed to solicit maximum crowd participation from the children. Afterward, Rockstar dental resource bags were handed out, which included toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, coloring books, crayons, and stickers. The bags were distributed to the children with the message: prevention is key.

Dating back to 1941, February has been a time to emphasize children’s dental health. What started as a two-city outreach in Ohio in 1941, morphed into the national observance of children’s dental health, according to the American Dental Association. The ADA’s single-day national observance commenced in 1949, extended to a week in 1955 and finally became a month-long outreach in 1981.

Since 1981, National Children’s Dental Health Month has been a celebration promoting oral health awareness. NCDHM has many advocates from small to large – dental providers, educators and healthcare professionals in the community, all the way up to sizable entities like its sponsor, the ADA, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

With prevention in mind, below are a few tips compiled from the ADA and AAP for young teeth:
* For babies, after each feeding, wipe the gums clean with a wet washcloth or gauze.
* Start dental visits by the first birthday and visit the dentist regularly.
* Children younger than 3 years old should cleanse teeth with a smear of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice.
* Children 3-6 years old may brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
* Children should spit out toothpaste when they are old enough to do so.
* Brush teeth twice a day and never skip bedtime brushing, the most critical.
* Floss teeth once a day when at least two teeth start to touch, bedtime is best.
* Parents are encouraged to help children brush and floss. They need assistance until age 6 or 7 and often still require supervision until age 10 or 11.
* Ask your dentist about sealants for school-age children.
* Provide healthy snacks between meals.
* Limit juice to 4-6 ounces for children ages 1-6, according to the AAP.

Unfortunately, the Edwards Dental Clinic only has the capacity to treat active duty members, however, you may visit to learn more about the TRICARE Dental Program and its benefits.