Improving children’s dental health

Posted 2/8/22

February is about love and hearts, but it is also about teeth.

The shortest month is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the Sullivan County Rural Health Network and Sullivan County …

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Improving children’s dental health

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February is about love and hearts, but it is also about teeth.

The shortest month is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the Sullivan County Rural Health Network and Sullivan County Public Health Services emphasize the need for parents and caregivers to make sure kids brush and floss.

“Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease found in children. Each year, more than 51 million school hours are lost due to dental-related problems,” said county public health director Nancy McGraw. “Fortunately, with good oral health care habits, tooth decay can be prevented.”

According to a Sullivan County Rural Health Network’s oral health needs assessment in 2016, the most frequent oral health issue that school nurses observed among the students was dental cavities and pain. Almost 65 percent of the nurses surveyed said they had seen a student miss school due to dental problems. The pandemic also contributed to many children not receiving regular dental care during the past two years.

Here are some things you can do to ensure good oral health for your child:

  • Encourage your children to eat regular nutritious meals and avoid frequent between-meal snacking.
  • Use a toothpaste with fluoride. If your child is younger than seven, put only a pea sized amount on their toothbrush.
  • If your drinking water is not fluoridated, talk to a dentist or physician about the best way to protect your child’s teeth.
  • Just like adults, children should see the dentist at least every six months
  • Do not put sugary drinks in your baby’s bottle or put them to bed with a bottle. This contributes to tooth decay and bacteria in the child’s mouth.
  • If you are pregnant, seek early prenatal care, eat a healthy diet and visit a dentist during your pregnancy to limit dental problems.

The PRASAD Children’s Dental Health Program, a mobile dental clinic and school based health center, visits county schools and provides dental health education, preventive and restorative dental services so that parents don’t have to take time off work or drive anywhere. PRASAD also has an office on Sullivan Avenue in Liberty and English-Spanish bilingual staff. Visit https://www.prasadcdhp.org/.

Sun River Healthcare, located on Lakewood Avenue in Monticello, has a dental clinic and will accept people of all ages regardless of their ability to pay. Sun River has a Spanish-English bilingual staff. Visit https://www.sunriver.org/services/dental-care/.

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