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"http://www.stamfordplus.com/stm/information/nws1/publish/News_1/index.shtml - News</head> : Health Feb 5, 2010 - 5:58 AM

February is “National Children’s Dental Health Month"

By Department of Public Health

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In recognition of “National Children’s Dental Health Month,” as proclaimed by the American Dental Association (ADA), the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging parents and guardians to become knowledgeable about proper oral healthcare in order to make a difference for themselves and their children.

“Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are essential to your child’s oral health. Getting kids into the habit of visiting a dentist at an early age ingrains healthy habits that last a lifetime,” stated DPH Commissioner, Dr. J. Robert Galvin. “Many parents think that a child’s first dental visit should be by age three, however, having your child see a dental health professional by their first birthday can help prevent tooth decay and other oral health issues, and begin the child’s experience in a dental office in a positive environment.”

This year, Give Kids a Smile Day will be observed on February 5th. The ADA founded Give Kids A Smile Day to raise public awareness of what the U.S. Surgeon General has called a “silent epidemic” of dental disease and to encourage parents, politicians and people who care about children to address this issue in their communities. Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact their dental health provider to schedule a dental health check-up for their children who are over the age of one year old.

A 2007 survey of Connecticut schoolchildren found that 31% of children in Head Start aged 2-4 have already experienced tooth decay and that 14% of those children had 5 or more teeth decayed or missing from decay. By Kindergarten, more than one in four children have experienced dental decay, 16% of which have untreated decay. According to the ADA, untreated oral diseases and conditions can have painful, disfiguring and lasting negative health consequences. Proper at-home care, early diagnosis, preventive treatments, and early intervention can prevent or halt the progress of most oral diseases.

All children should see a dental provider on a regular basis, beginning by age one. Individuals and/or families who are looking for a dental health provider are urged to call United Way by dialing 2-1-1 for help finding a dentist. For more information, please contact the DPH Office of Oral Health at (860) 509-7382 or visit our web site at www.ct.gov/dph/oralhealth.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.

To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.

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