Happy National Children’s Dental Health Month! Each year the American Dental Association observes this month to educate everyone on the importance of good oral health for children. We are participating in this initiative by providing tips, activities, and education on the importance of good oral health practices in early childhood settings. Despite COVID-19, you can still support children to develop oral health practices until toothbrushing can be done in your program once again.

First, help families understand that children with cavities often have tooth pain, and because they may have learned to live with this pain, they often have other issues. This can include trouble concentrating, following directions, and behavioral challenges. The good news is tooth decay is almost 100% preventable. Encourage families to help their child brush their teeth twice per day and floss once each day.

You can also encourage children to use the “swish and swallow” method after meals and snacks. This simple procedure, in which children take a drink of water then swish it around the mouth before swallowing, helps clear debris on and between teeth. While this does not replace tooth brushing, it should be used as a simple solution until COVID-19 is under control, and daily tooth brushing can be reinstated in your program.

It is more important than ever that children and adults visit their dentist regularly. Dentists can help children by checking their teeth, applying fluoride treatments, and sealants to prevent cavities. You can encourage families by providing resource lists of dentists in their immediate area or, if the family does not have insurance, help them find a dentist that offers free or reduced-cost treatment.

We offer Cavity Free Kids, a training and curriculum that offers activities, songs, and other resources that make learning about oral health fun and are easy to incorporate into your current curriculum and daily routines. Cavity Free Kids focuses on 5 basics of oral health:

You can sign up or request this training on our website.

Join us at a  FREE virtual Healthy Smiles Summit on Saturday, March 13, 2021.

Attendees receive a free copy of the Cavity Free Kids curriculum book along with other resources and materials to make bringing oral health into your program easy! The Summit also features advice to implement and maintain toothbrushing, policy writing tips, and time to create activities to use with children.

Want more information on trainings or bringing tooth brushing into your program? Contact Becky Edwards, Early Childhood Specialist at Becky@healthychildcareco.org.