Dental Health Month – February offers children reason to smile

Christine June
415th Base Support Battalion

***image1***February is a month full of smiles.
The National Children’s Dental Health Month is an annual observance to reach millions of people in communities across the country and at military bases abroad.
“It’s a great time for us to be able to get information out to the parents and teachers. We want to show parents what needs to be done and teach the kids,” said Capt. Clint Rau, dentist, Pulaski Dental Clinic. “The kids are excited about it because they want to see what the dentist does.”
Children in the KMC are getting several opportunities to see what the dentist does. Pulaski Dental Clinic personnel will visit the Landstuhl American Elementary School Monday through Friday, the Vogelweh American Elementary School Feb. 23 to 27, and Landstuhl Child Development Center Feb. 24.
During these visits, clinic personnel conduct dental screenings and show kids the importance of brushing teeth and flossing.
“Generally, the causes of ‘caries’ or cavities are because parents are not brushing or flossing their children’s teeth the way they should,” said Captain Rau. “Often, parents don’t understand that they need to brush and floss their children’s teeth until they have the manual dexterity to do it.”
Captain Rau further explained that if children can not thread a needle or write their names in cursive, they can’t brush their teeth well enough by themselves. These visits also let children and their parents know the importance of annual dental exams.
“I need to see children from age 1 and up, and every year after that,” said Captain Rau. “I need to make sure that those children don’t have cavities. If they do not have cavities, I can help them before it gets too late.”
The annual observance of children’s dental health began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 3, 1941. During that year, Feb. 3 to 7 was designated as Children’s Dental Health Week in Akron, Ohio.
The American Dental Association held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day Feb. 8, 1949. This single-day observance became a week-long event in 1955. In 1981, the program was extended to a month-long celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month.