February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

by Jan 31, 2019COMMUNITY sgadugi


Mellie Burns (standing center), EBCI Public Health and Human Services Children’s Dental Program, shows first grade students at Cherokee Elementary School about proper dental health through a role-playing exercise. Carolyn Lillard (standing left) plays the part of the dentist and Chotky Davis is the patient. (EBCI PHHS photo)

February is National Children’s Dental Health month, and the 2019 motto is “Brush and clean in between to build a healthy smile.”   Proper daily toothbrushing – two times a day for two minutes each time, limiting sweet sugary snacks – especially soft/sports drinks, and visiting a dentist on regular basis are key factors in keeping smiles healthy.

“Children’s teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and a healthy smile is important to a child’s self-esteem,” said Mellie Burns, EBCI Public Health and Human Services Children’s Dental Program.  “With proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental visits, their teeth can remain healthy and strong.  As dental professionals we want children to be very comfortable when visiting their dentist.  With this in mind, every year I visit all first grade classrooms at Cherokee Elementary school and we role play going to the dentist. The classroom ‘dentist’ dresses up in dental clothes and puts on gloves and a mask.  Seeing these things in a familiar setting is fun and entertaining.  The goal is to help reduce the students’ anxiety about visiting their dentist.”

According to American Journal of Public Health, October 2011, “Children with poor oral health status were three times more likely than were their counterparts to miss school as a result of dental pain.  Absences caused by pain were associated with poorer school performance.”

The article concludes. “These findings suggest that improving children’s oral health status may be a vehicle to enhancing their educational experience.”

Burns states, “It makes sense that children with poor oral health would have difficulty performing well in school.  It must be extremely difficult to focus on school work if you are in pain.  I would strongly encourage parents/guardians to make sure their children are keeping regularly scheduled dental appointments. It is so much easier on the child if a dental problem is properly treated in the very early stages, rather than waiting until a tooth hurts.”

– EBCI Public Health and Human Services release