February is Children's Dental Health Month
It can be scarey for a child to visit the dentist. That's why DENTAC staff members are out in full force during Children's Dental Health each February educating children and parents through fun skits and visits to local schools.

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Children's Dental Health Month activities will be held by the Fort Leonard Wood Dental Activity staff for children at post elementary schools, child development centers, and libraries throughout the month of February.

Dentists and dental healthcare workers across the country traditionally visit schools, daycares, and public healthcare centers to promote oral health to children during this annual observance, and it's no different on a military installation.

DENTAC staff will be out in full force to reach as many children as possible and perform skits, read stories, and have classroom question-and-answer fun for both children and parents.

"Parents are invited and encouraged to participate in the activities we're putting on for their children," said Capt. Meghan O'Connell, general dentist at Harper Dental Clinic.

Education is the goal. It can be difficult for parents to determine whether their child has a cavity.

The natural bacteria that live in a child's mouth, combined with food particles and saliva, form plaque. This is what should be removed when teeth are brushed.

Plaque interacts with sugary and starchy foods and produces acids. Acids, over time, demineralize tooth enamel, which weakens the teeth and leads to tooth decay or cavities.

Parents can recognize these "cavities" as soft white spots or dark spots on a tooth.

Primary, or baby teeth, serve a very important function for a child. They 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.

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.

This 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.

For questions regarding scheduling, please contact the Fort Leonard Wood DENTAC at (573) 596-3578.

Page last updated Sun February 3rd, 2013 at 11:18