Students Get a Head Start on a Healthy Mouth

Dental screenings and oral health education are part of Give Kids a Smile event

BALTIMORE, MD (February 15, 2011) — Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, according to the U.S. Surgeon General's Office. To raise awareness of the importance of learning good oral care, the National Museum of Dentistry and the University of Maryland Baltimore Dental School invited more than 60 Baltimore City schoolchildren to receive free dental screenings and learn how to take care of their teeth at the National Museum of Dentistry on Friday, February 4, 2011. Kicking off National Children's Health Month, the event was part of Give Kids A Smile, a nationwide program initiated by the American Dental Association to help children gain access to the dental care they need. Dental disease among kids from low-income families is epidemic.

Children received a free dental screening to identify dental disease and a fluoride sealant to help prevent cavities. The children also discovered how to have a healthy mouth for life through the Museum's MouthPower oral health education program, a hands-on exploration of how to brush and floss, how to eat healthy, and how to avoid the dangers of tobacco.

The program began with an historic welcome from George Washington (his infamous dentures are on view at the museum)—who led the children in a pledge to take care of their teeth-- followed by screenings in the lobby and a hands-on oral health education program led by University of Maryland dental students in the museum's galleries.

"Give Kids A Smile is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health, something that the National Museum of Dentistry strives to do every day," said Museum Executive Director Jonathan Landers. "We are excited that our signature oral health education program—MouthPower—is a centerpiece for this event, giving children the tools they need to take care of their teeth for a lifetime."

Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease—five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Children from low-income families suffer twice as many cavities as their more affluent peers, and their disease is more likely to go untreated. Dental disease is preventable with brushing, flossing, regular dental visits, and having access to fluoride and sealants.

Transportation for the Give Kids A Smile event was provided by the Maryland State Dental Association.

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About Give Kids A Smile
As part of Give Kids A Smile, dentists and dental team members around the country are providing a range of dental services and educational programs for underserved children, while highlighting for policy makers the ongoing challenges that low-income and disabled children face in accessing dental care. Events include in-school brushing demonstrations, community screening and treatment programs, and free private dental care. Give Kids A Smile serves as an annual vehicle to focus national attention on what the U.S. Surgeon General has called a "silent epidemic" of oral disease affecting children from low-income families, and to build support for public and private solutions that will help these children get regular oral health care. Give Kids A Smile is sponsored nationally by Colgate-Palmolive, Henry Schein Dental, and DEXIS Digital X-ray.

The National Museum of Dentistry
The National Museum of Dentistry, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is a lively national center where visitors learn the importance of a healthy smile and the rich history of dentistry. Recognized for its innovative exhibits and programs that educate the public about the importance of oral health in a healthy life, the museum is designated by Congress as the official museum of the dental profession in the United States. See the amazing teeth feats of circus performer Penny Wilson, marvel at George Washington's choppers (they're not made of wood, after all!), sing along to vintage toothpaste commercials, and discover fascinating hands-on exhibitions about the power of a healthy smile. This one-of-a-kind museum is located at 31 S. Greene Street on the campus of the University of Maryland Baltimore—home of the world's first dental school. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for youths, seniors, and students with ID, and free for children age 6 & under and NMD members. Open Wednesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday 1–4 p.m. Call 410/706-0600 or visit www.smile-experience.org.