February is National Children's Dental Health MonthFebruary is National Children’s Dental Health Month. The North Dakota Dental Association and the North Dakota Department of Health help dentists and their staff put on clinics and other demonstrations this month encouraging children to practice good dental health through brushing and flossing.
By: By Chris Olson, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month.
The North Dakota Dental Association and the North Dakota Department of Health help dentists and their staff put on clinics and other demonstrations this month encouraging children to practice good dental health through brushing and flossing.
NDDA Executive Director Joe Cichy said there are programs offered by the state and his organization that help everyone practice good dental health.
Cichy said the NDDH’s Protect Your Child’s Smile fluoride varnish program is one example. Dentists use a brush to apply the varnish to a child’s teeth. The varnish will coat the teeth and help harden the enamel. The varnish disappears the next day when the child brushes his or her teeth, but the benefit of the flouride lasts for months.
“Education is the key to good dental health, for children and adults,” Cichy said.
In Jamestown dental hygienists have given 14,033 toothbrushes to first graders in all of the city’s public elementary schools and St. John’s Academy since 1962, according to Dental Hygienist Diane Hildahl.
Hildahl gave her first dental presentation here in 1976 and took over organization of the event in 1977. She works with Dr. Jason Braun, and will meet with first grade students at Roosevelt, Washington and Louis L’Amour elementary schools this month.
Hygienists Jackie Adams and Vanessa Navarro out of Dr. Carrie Orn’s office, will visit Gussner Elementary School. Vickie Meidinger and Sue Schmuhl-Lincoln, dental hygienists with Dr. Kenneth McDougall, will speak at St. John’s Academy.
The five women will speak to about 186 students this month.
“I leave it up to each of the hygienists as to when they schedule their events,” Hildahl said.
Each hygienist decides what her presentation will be.
“They know what kids like and what they don’t. Some use videos and music, I use funny props and a big story book,” Hildahl said.
She keeps her presentation about a half-hour.
“If you go too long, the kids get a little antsy,” she said.
The first thing she asks is “What are teeth good for?”
“That gets them thinking about their teeth and how they use them,” she said.
Then she gets out oversized models of teeth, a toothbrush and some floss and shows them how to properly brush and floss their teeth.
Each student receives a toothbrush at the end of the day.
“You would be surprised to know how many children don’t have a toothbrush,” she said.
McDougall said the program helps children maintain good dental habits.
“It would be nice if more of the children kept those habits as teenagers,” he said.
Go to www.ndhealth.
gov/oralhealth to learn more about different dental health programs in the state.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org