Focus on Children’s Oral Health All Year Long
While February is noted for Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day celebrations, the oral health care community knows it as National Children’s Dental Health Month.
While February is noted for Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day celebrations, the oral health care community knows it as National Children’s Dental Health Month. Events during National Children’s Dental Health Month typically focus on caries prevention, but there are many areas that can be addressed when educating the public about children’s oral health, including: periodontal diseases; tobacco and e-cigarette use; sports injuries; nutrition; and drug use, including the impact of marijuana and methamphetamine. Dental hygienists know that these important issues demand our attention year round—not just during National Children’s Dental Health Month. Two dental hygienists have made it their mission to keep the spotlight on children’s oral health. Terri Chandler, RDH, is the founder and executive director of Future Smiles, a school-based, nonprofit oral health program in Las Vegas. The team at Future Smiles comprises public health dental hygienists who provide preventive oral health services to children from kindergarten through high school. Since its inception, Future Smiles has provided preventive services to more than 21,000 at-risk children in school settings.
Matt Crespin, MPH, RDH, is the associate director of the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin in West Allis. He oversees the organization’s oral health programs, including the Wisconsin Seal-A-Smile program. As a nationally recognized expert on school sealant programs (SSP), Crespin recently chaired the national Sealant Work Group, an initiative of the Children’s Dental Health Project. The group’s recommendations will be released this fall. He explains, “SSPs help improve children’s oral health outcomes and reduce inequities in the prevalence of dental disease. By offering SSP managers and state oral health leaders fresh recommendations, we hope to expand the impact of this prevention strategy.”
The Future Smiles website states, “A healthy child can be a happy child. A happy child can be a successful child. A successful child can become a contributor to the community.” Our commitment to pediatric patients can have a lasting impact throughout their lives.
Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. February 2016;14(02):10.