By Aaron Clark, Kentucky Youth Advocates intern

It’s February, and as advocates for oral health we know that means Children’s Dental Health Month is here again. Starting as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, Children’s Dental Health Month is a celebration aimed to help establish positive attitudes and good dental habits at an early age as a key component to maintaining good oral and overall physical health of people young and growing. We hope that this month, you can participate in the annual celebration along with your dentist, dental hygienist, children, friends, and other community members in helping keep children cavity-free and smiling for years to come.

In 2016, a study, conducted in partnership with Delta Dental of Kentucky, the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, and other key partners, collected data on over 2,000 3rd and 6th grade children to gather oral health information. The key findings showed that the percentage of 3rd and 6th graders in need of early or urgent dental care had actually increased. Also, 2 out of 5 of all the 3rd and 6th graders had untreated cavities, and more than half of them do not have sealants—which is a proven preventive treatment service for children.

As the latter part of February kicks off, we want to remind parents, teachers, and community members that cavities can be prevented among children. Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between teeth daily, and eating a healthy diet limited in sugar combined with regular dental visits are critical to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Combined with dental sealants, you not only protect your child’s teeth but ultimately save time, and money, and improve their overall well-being. If you’re looking for a fun way to help spark the conversation about dental health with kids, the American Dental Association has developed as a part of National Children’s Dental Health Month fun activity sheets, including crossword puzzles, mazes, and coloring sheets!