It’s February and time to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM)! It’s so important to bring this celebration to children and their parents, teachers and caregivers. The American Dental Association reports that NCDHM “began with a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio and a one-week event in Akron, Ohio during February 1941. Since then, the concept has grown from a two-city event into a nationwide program.
The American Dental Association held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. The single day observance became a weeklong event in 1955. And in 1981, the program was extended to a month-long celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month.” 1
As I think about the dental health of children, I’m reminded of the appreciation I have for the Pedodontists who are there when a problem beyond my professional boundaries arises. It’s a special individual who has dedicated his or her career to the dental care of children.
And it’s time to remind parents that whatever our children see us doing is what they will end up doing. Personally, I don’t think it’s enough to say: “if you don’t want to have ‘bad teeth’ like mine, you’d better take care of them”. If you don’t brush your teeth before bedtime, they will grow up with the same habits.
And the fluoride thing! Really, you all need to get over it! Fluoride prevents tooth decay, period. I presently practice in an area of the country where there is no water fluoridation. As Snoopy would say: AUGH!! The devastation I see in the children who come through the clinic hurts my heart. I was born and raised in a fluoridated state where children have virtually no tooth decay.
Further, I practice in a state where the value of cleaning and keeping one’s teeth for a lifetime is practically absent. A place where it’s believed that we all eventually lose our teeth. So naturally, when I see their children, these beliefs are already engrained in them. So…
Let’s celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month by strongly encouraging not only the kids, but the parents, too! Let’s remind Mom and Dad at their appointments that whatever their kids see them doing is what their kids will grow up doing.
Encourage parents to make brushing twice a day a natural, normal part of a daily routine. And I know…this is asking a lot…but lay those children in your lap and floss their teeth. It takes just a few minutes and they’ll grow up thinking flossing is what we do. If you can’t do that, get a waterpik and you can get waterpiks they can use in the shower; it’s fun and it feels good.
My sister once asked me to help her figure out how to encourage my nephews to brush their teeth. This is what I told them:
This is a message packed with Love
from me to both of you.
I send it cuz I care so much
for Shane and little Boo.
I know it’s hard for little boys
to eat the things they should.
But pop and gum and candy fun
will never do you good.
You first get twenty “baby” teeth
like little sweetheart Boo.
Mom may not see their whole worth yet,
but important things they do.
There’s Shane LeRoy with adult teeth
before he’s even ten.
And did he know that gum disease
is more oft found in men?
the Lord, He gave you teeth
to last your whole life too!
So you must tell Him “Thank you, Lord”
by brushing through and through.
And Jesus would not like it
if he knew you laid your head,
and didn’t even brush your teeth
before you went to bed.
When you slow down on that candy
you will someday get a prize;
for when you’re sixty-five years old
you’ll know that you were wise.
So when your friends by candy
you tell them what I said,
that you would like to keep your teeth
right up there in your head
And when you see the dentist
you need not be afraid
for she will always be your friend
should cavities be made.
And some day many years from now
you’ll meet God at that place,
and you can smile from ear to ear
and thank Him face to face.
1. ADA website, February 2018: ADA.org/ncdhm
Dr. Deborah Marynak is the owner of Dental Staffing.org, a dentist with over 30 years experience, and is committed to helping Dental Professionals find the right fit for both employees and employers. She also works with Dental Offices to help them streamline their clinical systems and teachrd Dental Teams how to effectively document to avoid risk.