In celebration of Children’s Dental Health Month
The following is a message from the Oral Health Clinic of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. as part of the celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month.
Dear CNMI community: This February, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s Oral Health Clinic celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month, or NCDHM. NCDHM is a monthlong observance promoting the importance of maintaining and improving children’s oral health. Cavities (also known as caries or tooth decay) are the most common chronic disease of childhood in the United States.
Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t. The good news is that cavities are preventable. Fluoride varnish, a fluoride coating painted on the tops and sides of teeth, can prevent about one-third (33%) of cavities in the primary (baby) teeth. Dental sealants, thin coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars), can also prevent cavities for many years. Applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of molars can protect against 80% of cavities for two years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to four years. Parents should ask their child’s pediatrician or dentist about applying fluoride varnish or dental sealants, when appropriate.
Parents and caregivers can also teach their children healthy oral habits. For babies, parents can wipe gums twice a day with a soft, clean cloth. When teeth come in, start brushing twice a day with a soft, small bristled toothbrush and plain water. Visit the dentist by your baby’s first birthday to spot signs of problems early. For children 2 years and older, help your child brush their teeth until they have good brushing skills. Children should brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and drink water that contains fluoride. Finally, be a good role model! Children learn by watching. Be sure to practice good oral health habits, too.
To learn more information about oral health, call the CHCC Oral Health Clinic at (670)236-8369 or you can also visit cdc.gov/oralhealth.