At MCDC, we believe that our smiles are a lifelong investment, so it’s important to instill healthy oral hygiene habits in youths. In recognition of that very cause, the American Dental Association (ADA) honors National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) every February. Before this annual holiday rolls around again, let’s take a moment to learn what NCDHM is, why it’s important, and how we can all do our part to celebrate it.
What is National Children’s Dental Health Month?
Children’s dental health was first officially recognized in Cleveland, Ohio in 1941 for one day — February 3rd. The observation grew to a week in 1955, then became what it is today in 1981. Since then, National Children’s Dental Health Month has brought health professionals, providers, and educators together to share the importance of kids’ dental care.
The goal of NCDHM is for dental advocates across the country to instill lasting oral hygiene habits in children through activities, programs, and promotion. This way, kids can get a headstart on developing — and maintaining — a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.
Why is NCDHM Important?
According to the CDC, cavities are one of the most chronic childhood diseases in America. Over 50% of kids between ages 6-8 have had a cavity in their baby teeth, and the same amount of adolescents ages 12-19 have had one in their adult teeth. That’s a lot of young people experiencing issues with their oral health, which is why NCDHM’s efforts are so valuable.
The more children and young adults learn about oral health, the better off their teeth will be later in life. If people are taught how to brush their teeth, why they should visit the dentist, and when to floss as kids, they’re more likely to carry those habits into adulthood. NCDHM seeks to provide answers to these questions in ways that are simple and fun for kids.
How Can I Help Celebrate NCDHM?
The goal of NCDHM is to bring together dental advocates from all over the United States, whether you’re a hygienist, teacher, parent, or just care about the cause! Anyone can get involved, and there are so many ways to do so.
- Education. Teach the youth around you about the importance of proper oral health habits, such as brushing teeth twice daily, flossing regularly, and visiting the dentist.
- Programs. Host an event or program for local kids that centers on dental hygiene. Health fairs, school presentations, and free screenings are all great examples.
- Activities. Provide children with fun resources like coloring pages, word searches, and workbooks that educate them on dental health tips.
- Promotion. Put up informational flyers and posters around your area to educate local families about dental health. Locations like schools, daycares, community centers, and more are great places to start.
Promotional materials, program planning guides, and activity sheets are all available to download for free on ADA’s website.
Participating in National Children’s Dental Health Month can help change the future of dental care for kids. While you’re advocating for the oral health of others, however, don’t forget to take care of your own smile. Remember to schedule regular dental visits and stay on top of your at-home care routine. If you have any questions about dental health, don’t hesitate to reach out — the MCDC team is happy to help.