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Brush, floss and smile! February is National Children’s Dental Health Month


February once again brings National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM), an oral health campaign that helps educate children about the importance of maintaining good oral health and developing healthy habits that will carry into adulthood.

About 60 percent of children will have had some form of tooth decay by age five, making it one of the most common diseases among children in the United States. The good news is that tooth decay in children can often be prevented if parents are proactive. The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) encourages parents to help their children develop good habits at an early age, including:

  • Brush teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Help your kids brush their teeth two minutes each time, twice a day — for healthier teeth, fresh breath, fewer cavities, and to avoid painful dental problems.
  • Floss between teeth at least once a day. Break off about 18 inches of floss (the length from a fingertip to your elbow) and use it to floss younger kids’ teeth, or teach older kids how to do it themselves.
  • Establish healthy eating habits for your child. Offer a variety of foods from the five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and meat/poultry/fish. A balanced diet helps keep your children’s teeth and gums healthy. A diet high in natural or added sugars may place your child at extra risk for tooth decay.
  • Visit the dentist every six months for a checkup and professional cleaning. Seeing a dentist regularly is important for good oral health. Dentists can detect small problems before they become bigger, more painful problems. Your child could have oral health problems you don’t know about like cavities or gum disease.
  • If your child is involved in any contact sport or recreational activity, he or she should always wear a mouthguard. Examples of contact sports include football, field hockey, ice hockey, baseball, basketball, softball, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, in-line skating and martial arts.
  • Find out if your water supply contains fluoride. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 70 years of our best scientific evidence indicates that community water fluoridation is safe and effective. Fluoride is a proven cavity fighter, not only in children, but for all ages. The average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a community water supply is less than the cost of one filling, and remember, fluoride is a naturally occurring element.

Learning about oral health can be informative and fun at the same time for kids of all ages. Visit PDA’s online Kids’ Corner at www.padental.org/kidscorner for interactive games and activities, information on brushing and flossing, answers to frequently asked questions, nutritional information and more.

If you are a parent, visit PDA’s online Patient Resource Center at www.padental.org/patientinformation. The Patient Resource Center has information on a variety of oral health topics from caring for baby teeth to what to expect at your child’s first dental visit and many more. If you have specific questions about your child’s oral health, please talk with your dentist.

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Native Americans Along the Susquehanna

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