Courtesy photo

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Members of the Fort Leonard Wood Dental Activity are slated to visit the Clarke Library, post elementary schools, and child development centers throughout the month of February during Children's Dental Health Month.

National Children's Dental Health Month is meant to raise awareness about the importance of children's oral health.

"DENTAC personnel will be out in full force in order to reach as many children as possible and perform skits, read stories and have classroom question-and-answer fun for both children and parents," said Col. David Kryszak, Fort Leonard Wood DENTAC commander.

Parents are invited and encouraged to participate in the activities.

"Education is the goal," said Kryszak. "Emphasis will be placed on proper tooth brushing and oral hygiene as well as the importance of maintaining a healthy diet."

It can be difficult for parents to determine if their child has tooth decay.

Tooth decay is often visible as soft white or dark spots on the tooth. However, often times decay forms between the teeth and can initially only be seen on radiographs.

Primary, or baby teeth, serve a very important function for a child. These teeth are not only used for chewing and eating, but they also hold space for the future eruption of permanent teeth.

If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space for the permanent tooth can be lost or compromised. If this happens, orthodontic treatment may be needed to provide space for the permanent teeth.

Although it is entirely preventable, tooth decay is still the most common chronic disease among children.

The American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry recommend that the ideal time for a child to see a dentist is six months after the first tooth erupts, or by one year of age.

The first visit is a perfect opportunity to ask a dentist questions regarding a child's oral health. It will also help a child become more familiar with the dental office setting.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 40 percent of children ages 2-11 have had a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth, and more than two-thirds of 16-19-year-olds have had a cavity in their permanent teeth.

"Please fill out an Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE Comment) card on-line or at any ICE Kiosk," said Kryszak. "If you received dental care off post near Fort Leonard Wood, please choose "Off Post Dental Services" when completing the ICE card."

For more information call the Harper Dental Clinic at (573) 596-3578.

(Editor's note: Capt. Abby N. Boschert is a dental specialist at the Fort Leonard Wood Dental Activity)

Page last updated Fri January 31st, 2014 at 17:12