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David Morgan
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Dental Health for Kids Begins with Parents

February 17, 2016 - Dental and Oral Health - Awareness

In New Mexico and throughout the country, February 2016 is being celebrated as “Children’s Dental Health Month” to emphasize that the oral health is just as important as physical and mental health. A healthy mouth allows a child to be free from pain thus they can attend school and be productive adults in later life.

The mouth is a window into what's going on in the rest of your body, often serving as a helpful vantage point for detecting the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease — a disease that affects or pertains to your entire body, not just one of its parts.

Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums is a worthy goal in and of itself. Good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease — and can help you keep your teeth as one gets older.

Parents, grandparents, and care givers do you know when was the last time your child or teenager went to a dentist?

Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States and in New Mexico. Yes, tooth decay is still very common among children. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

The United States Surgeon General Report in 2000 reported that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to tooth decay.  Nearly half of children entering kindergarten have had at least one cavity. Tooth decay is most common among children living in low-income households, which indicates that the current oral health care system does not adequately address their needs. A sick child will stay home and parents, grandparents, care givers often have to take time away from their work and stay home and care for the ill child. 

Despite being largely preventable, tooth decay remains the most prevalent chronic health condition among US children and adolescents.  About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.  It is estimated that 1 of 7 (13%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth. The percentage of children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years with untreated tooth decay is twice as high for those from low-income families (25%) compared with children from higher-income households (11%). The case for good oral hygiene keeps getting stronger.

How can we improve the oral health status of our children (and adults too)?   The New Mexico Department of Health, Office of Oral Health recommends the following:

  • Parents, grandparents, or caregivers help your children live healthy life styles.
  • Teach children the importance of brushing their teeth twice a day (and adults do the same).
  • Have your child/adolescent see a dentist twice a year.
  • Provide and encourage children/adolescents to eat nutritious foods.
  • Reduce the consumption of soft drinks, candy and other sugar products.
  • Drink plenty of water especially fluoridated water.  The city of Santa Fe’s water is one of the best in the state and is fluoridated.
  • Parents and care givers study and learn of the importance and benefits of fluoride and especially community water fluoridation.
  • Allow your children to participate in preventive school based dental clinics provided by the state and other providers. The clinics provide oral health education, free tooth brushes and tooth paste, application of fluoride varnish or dental sealants (depending on the age of the child/adolescents) and can assist families secure a dental home.
  • Pregnant moms need to see a dentist during and after birth and the have their babies see a dental provider by the age of one or when the first tooth erupts. 
  • Parents talk to your child’s dentist or medical provider and discuss their oral health status and how their overall health can improve.
  • Additional recommendations are: encourage your children not to smoke or stop smoking, exercise, and get plenty of rest.

The above health and behavioral practices will also help reduce the incidence of childhood obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

For further information please visit the Dental and Oral Health section of our website.

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.

Versión en Español

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La Salud Dental De Los Niños Empieza Con Los Padres