Oral Health: A Key Piece of Health Literacy Month

October is Health Literacy Month, which is the perfect time to focus on the health and oral health of Kentucky’s children and families. Oral health is a key component of overall health and wellness, but it remains an issue of concern for many Kentucky families:

  • According to PEW Center on the States, Kentucky received a “C” grade in providing oral health care to children and a “D” grade in overall oral health prevention.
  • Nearly 43 percent of Kentucky’s children have severe early childhood dental decay, and 40 percent of those children have never visited a dentist.
  • Children with poor oral health care experience higher rates of emergency room visits, higher absentee rates from school, and less promising job prospects as adults compared to children who receive appropriate oral health care.

Highlighting the availability of public educational resources can prevent disease and injury, improve health, and enhance quality of life. The Drink Pyramid is a public education tool which can help communities improve oral health . Dr. Nikki Stone, a dentist practicing in Eastern Kentucky and Chair of the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition (KOHC), developed the Drink Pyramid. The Drink Pyramid was modeled after the original USDA Food Pyramid. Dr. Stone used clear and simple mnemonic messages to teach children, teens, and families about healthy drink choices. drink pyramid

There are four tiers within the Drink Pyramid:

  • Drink Water Whenever
    • Recommended: 6-8 glasses a day.
  • Drink Milk with Meals
    • Recommended: 2-3 servings of calcium each day.
  • Drink Juice Just once (per day)
  • Drink Pop only at Parties.

Dr. Stone has also developed Drink Pyramid curriculums for children in early childhood and Head Start, elementary, middle, and high school.  Each curriculum includes lesson plans, a pre-test and post-test, a PowerPoint presentation, and worksheets and activities.

Celebrate Health Literacy Month by sharing resources like the Drink Pyramid with your family, friends, and community!

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