DHEC wants your child to have a healthy smile

COLUMBIA, SC – February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) wants parents to help their little ones brush up on oral health.

Although it’s preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. When left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain and infections that can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that children who have poor oral health tend to miss more school days and receive lower grades than children who don’t.

Even though tooth decay has been on the decline for the past 30 years, it is still prevalent in children ages 6 to 19. South Carolina’s Oral Health Needs Assessment in 2012 showed a decline in untreated decay, but there is still work to be done particularly in the more rural areas of the state. For example, over 40 percent of the students screened in 2012 showed they had some form of decay either treated or untreated. Consistent preventive messages and public health interventions such as community water fluoridation can go a long way to improving the oral health status of children in South Carolina.

Here are some useful tips for parents and caregivers to help protect their children from future dental issues.

  • Oral care begins with wiping out the mouths of infants with soft cloth even before the first tooth arrives.
  • Once teeth arrive, brush your child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. Children under age 3 should use a smear of toothpaste, and children over age 3 should use a pea-sized amount.
  • Children should be supervised when brushing their teeth until age 6-8.
  • Children should visit the dentist regularly beginning at age 1.
  • Talk to your pediatrician, family doctor, nurse, or dentist about putting fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears in the mouth.
  • Limit sugary snacks and drinks.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants. Sealants protect teeth from decay.
  • Have your child drink tap water that contains fluoride. If you have well water, you can contact your water utility company and request a copy of the utility’s most recent “Consumer Confidence Report.” This report provides information on the level of fluoride in your drinking (tap) water.

A healthy mouth is an important part of overall health. To learn more about Children’s Dental Health Month, please visit http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month.

-This is from a Press Release.