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To the editor:
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month-a time when schools, dentists and health organizations everywhere promote oral health education, and teach children how to practice good oral health
According to the Kentucky Department of Public Health, Kentucky has the nation’s highest rate of tooth loss and more than one quarter of the residents of this Commonwealth have lost six or more teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease. This news is alarming.
In order to combat the increase in cases of childhood tooth decay, it should be a priority in the lives of parents, teachers and dentists to make sure our children grow up practicing a daily oral hygiene routine and understand the consequences of not taking care of their teeth.
There are many ways we can ensure our kids make the right choices when it comes to oral health maintenance. Oral health should remain a priority each day-from learning to brush and floss properly, to eating a balanced diet and staying active.
To parents-encourage your child to eat nutritious meals and limit snacking in between meals. To ensure your child brushes and flosses regularly, consider posting a chart on the bathroom mirror to monitor your child’s oral health behavior and to keep them on a routine schedule. Also, a child’s first visit to the dentist should be made around their first birthday. Since dental problems often start early, the sooner the visit, the better.
To teachers, Health Departments and Dental Practices-participate in a statewide oral health education program, such as Delta Dental of Kentucky’s Teeth-on-the-Go Program. Since 2004, we’ve offered free oral health learning kits to teachers statewide, and have a partnership with the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky Dental Schools for in-classroom presentations featuring our very own mascot, Marshall Molar. The program has been very successful and continues to receive praise from teachers around the state.
In addition, the commonwealth of Kentucky and water companies around the state continue their outstanding commitments in regulating our water, being one of the national leaders in producing quality water containing fluoride, which greatly benefits children’s teeth during the tooth-forming years.
Remember, our children learn from example. Set good examples, and be a mentor for proper hygiene and healthy living.
Oral health must be a priority year-round. Toothbrushes and floss can’t afford to take a sick day from our kids’ mouths.
A smile goes a long way. Let’s give our children a reason to smile, with healthy teeth and an even brighter future!
Cliff Maesaka, D.D.S.
President, Delta Dental of Ky.