The Indiana State Department of Health
INDIANAPOLIS—The health of teeth can affect how people eat and speak and even the first impressions they make. Learning to take care of teeth at an early age creates good oral hygiene habits that can be maintained for a lifetime.
The Indiana State Department of Health’s Oral Health Program reminds all Hoosiers that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. This year’s campaign slogan is “Sugar Wars,” which reminds people how sugar can jeopardize oral health if teeth are not properly cleaned and brushed.
National Children’s Dental Health observances began as a single-day event in Cleveland in 1941. In 1981, a month-long celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month was created.
“Attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining good oral health throughout life,” said Indiana State Department of Health Oral Health Director James Miller, D.D.S, M.S.D, Ph.D. “With proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental visits, children’s teeth can stay healthy and strong.”
Regular dental visits are essential. They can teach children about proper brushing and flossing techniques, as well as inform parents about the benefits of dental sealants and mouth guards. Parents can also learn about the potential harmful effects of prolonged thumbsucking, the over consumption of sugar, and the use of tobacco products. A recent survey found that more than 78 percent of Indiana children ages 1 to 17 had visited a dentist in the past year.
However there is still a need for more preventive care. An estimated 51 percent of all third-graders in the state have experienced some tooth decay. Also, 18 percent of Hoosiers age 65 and older have had all their natural teeth extracted, and nearly 48 percent of Indiana residents age 18 and older have had at least one permanent tooth extracted.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages parents and other care providers to help every child visit a dentist before age 1.
“A healthy smile is important to a child’s self-esteem,” Dr. Miller said. “Children’s permanent teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and visiting a dentist from an early age can help make that possible.”
To learn more about National Children’s Dental Health Month, visit http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month/.
For more information about oral health in Indiana, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s Oral Health Program at http://www.in.gov/isdh/18695.htm.
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News Writer: Lucy Pery PHONE: 317-527-4141