National Children’s Dental Health Month is meant to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Why is this type of celebration—and year-round attention to children’s dental health--important?
Despite the fact that it’s almost entirely preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. More than 40 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth, and more than two-thirds of 16- to 19-year-olds have had a cavity in their permanent teeth. Although overall rates of tooth decay have decreased over the past four decades, decay has actually increased in preschool age children in recent years.
The good news is there are safe and effective preventive measures that can protect teeth. Good oral hygiene practices such as thorough brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep children from getting cavities. In addition, dental sealants and community water fluoridation are two other strategies that can help prevent tooth decay.
For more information about children’s dental health, how to prevent tooth decay, and related research funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), please see the NIH MedlinePlus Magazine feature on Children’s Dental Health.
Whether you’re a health professional, teacher, or parent, NIDCR also has free health education materials that you can use for National Children’s Dental Health Month events:
A Healthy Mouth for Your Baby
This easy-to-read brochure is for parents with infants or toddlers. It explains why baby teeth are important, gives tips on how to prevent early childhood tooth decay, and promotes the age 1 dental visit. Also available in Spanish
Seal Out Tooth Decay
This brochure is for parents of children ages 6-14. It explains what sealants are and why they're important for protecting teeth from decay. It also has a step-by-step description (with pictures) of how sealants are applied to teeth. Also available in Spanish
Milk Matters (with Buddy Brush)
A coloring book for children ages 4-8 that discusses the importance of milk for building strong teeth and a healthy body. It also highlights the importance of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay. Part of Milk Matters, a nationwide campaign dedicated to increasing calcium consumption among America's children and teens. Also available in Spanish
Open Wide and Trek Inside
For use with students in grades 1 and 2, this curriculum supplement focuses on oral health and the science of the oral environment. Includes educational videos and games (in English and Spanish).