This February, dentistrytoday.com celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month with news stories, interviews, and blogs all about safeguarding pediatric oral health. #NCDHM
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM), and the ADA and America’s ToothFairy are ready to help practices spread the message of good oral health and serve children who are most in need. Considering the role that sugar-sweetened beverages play in today’s rates of tooth decay and the effectiveness of public water fluoridation programs in improving oral health, this year’s theme is “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile.”
“There’s a solution out there. It’s just a matter of engaging the dental community. They’ve been so wonderful and supportive, and building upon that as well as promoting oral health to educate the public about its importance,” said Jill Malmgren, executive director of America’s ToothFairy. “Oral health has often been overlooked, and it’s so critical to one’s overall health, so there’s a great opportunity to really impact lives.”
Clinicians can begin their celebration with the NCDHM Program Planning Guide, provided by the ADA. It offers program coordinators resources for promoting the benefits of good oral health to children, such as easy activities, timetable tips, a sample NCDHM proclamation, and more. It also provides instructions for publicizing the month through reaching out to schools, conducting free screenings, and getting local media coverage.
Plus, dentists can order or download colorful posters in both English and Spanish from the ADA website featuring familiar NCDHM characters promoting the value of tap water and daily brushing to oral health. Activity sheets with stories and puzzles that young patients can color—all while learning about better eating and brushing habits—are available online as well in both English and Spanish.
Meanwhile, America’s ToothFairy is celebrating by promoting its Smile Drive program, which collects toothbrushes and other oral hygiene products to donate to children in need. It offers instructions and other resources for dentists to conduct drives in their communities and connect with local nonprofits that could use the donations. Those who can’t conduct their own drives are encouraged to donate to the Toothbrushes and Oral Care Supplies Fund instead.
The City of Charlotte, NC, is all in with this year’s Smile Drive to serve the nearly 50,000 children living in poverty in Mecklenburg County. So far, America’s ToothFairy has collected 30,000 toothbrushes for distribution there and aims to get more. Toothbrush collections and other fundraisers are scheduled throughout February at several locations, with some bars and taverns even offering a dollar off of each pint of beer for each brush donated.
“We always need oral care products. That’s something that you can see go right back into your local community,” said Malmgren. “It’s a great way to give back to your local community and a fun way to participate and raise awareness of oral health and get people involved and talking about it and help people understand there’s a real need there. It’s also an area where we can make a difference.”