February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). Since 1949, the American Dental Association (ADA) has sponsored this national awareness annually to raise the importance of oral health. The goal of the NCDHM is to educate children on developing good dental habits, encouraging scheduled dental visits, and to promote healthy eating habits across the country. The ADA created this month-long observation to bring together the nation’s “dedicated dental professionals, health care providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.”

This year’s theme is “Defeat the Monster Mouth.” The poster and informational materials feature McGrinn Twins, Flossy and Buck, along with their best friends and next-door neighbors Den and Gen Smiley and K-9 the dog. These characters are fighting to defeat Plaqster the Monster. Plaqster represents the bacteria or “Monsters” that accumulate in the mouth and cause dental cavities. The campaign stresses the importance of four oral health habits:

1. Brush two minutes and two times a day.

2. Clean between the teeth daily.

3. Limit snacks and eat healthy meals.

4. Visit the dentist regularly.

Brushing the teeth and flossing help to remove the daily accumulation of bacteria and food residue that surround the teeth and gums. Limitation of snacks give the saliva time to neutralize the acids that remain after eating. Lastly, regularly scheduled dental appointments are an essential aspect of dental health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a dental check-up every six months to prevent undiagnosed dental disease and overall health problems. The dentist will examine the tissues and the overall oral health of the child. With each routine check-up, the oral developmental stages can be observed and monitored.

The poster and NCDHM campaign are designed to interest different age groups and encourage proper oral hygiene habits amongst various ages. The ADA hopes teachers, parents, and health care providers will utilize the versatile posters and theme to engage children in conversation and actions towards good oral health.

The ADA has informational aids on their website to help with education for you and your family at www.ADA.org.

• Dr. Rashmi (Rush) Bhatnagar, DMD, MPH, can be contacted at (480) 598-5900 or visit www.BellaVistaDentalCare.com.

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