February focuses on children’s dental health

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, bringing together thousands of dedicated healthcare providers and educators to bring the importance of good oral health to children, their caregivers and teachers. Since 1941, Children’s Dental Health Month has grown from one day to an entire month to celebrate healthier smiles without tooth decay – the most common chronic disease among children in the United States, according to American Dental. Association (ADA).

This year’s focus on “Sealants Make Sense” gives parents an even easier way to protect their child’s smile.

Research on sealants shows an 80% reduction in the risk of cavities when added to a comprehensive dental health routine, as recommended by the ADA. Dental sealants – a thin, non-toxic protective layer painted on the surface of teeth – are usually applied to children and adolescents once the permanent molars have emerged, between the ages of 6 and 14. Dental sealants help prevent cavities from forming, but are not a substitute for regular brushing and flossing.

Notably, children in San Joaquin County use dental services well below the state average.

“With the pandemic, many regular dental visits have fallen off parents’ schedules,” said Dr. Maggie Park, public health officer for San Joaquin County Public Health Services. “Fortunately, most dental offices are back to pre-pandemic capacity, so parents should call their child’s dentist to schedule a checkup and ask about sealants.”

Children’s oral health is linked to self-esteem, learning, self-expression and overall health.

In 2020, about one in five kindergarten students in San Joaquin County had untreated tooth decay. By the time students reach third grade, three out of four students will have an untreated cavity, an increase of 245%.

For more information about the Local Oral Health Program (LOHP), visit www.sjteeth.org, or contact Katelynn Peirce, Public Health Educator and LOHP Program Coordinator, at [email protected] or (209) 468-8620. The vision of the program is to eliminate dental disease in children and promote dental health throughout life.

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