JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
The American Dental Association sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month each February to raise awareness of the importance of oral health for children.
At Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, the annual observance gives the 359th Dental Flight, which serves active-duty members, an opportunity to extend its reach to Randolph Elementary School students and other children, and promote the ADA's message that "developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits help children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums."
Capt. (Dr.) Jessamy Thornton, 359th Dental Flight general dentist, will visit the JBSA-Randolph Library for story time Wednesday and will lead a team to Randolph Elementary Feb. 26, where they will promote oral hygiene during physical education classes throughout the day.
"Children's Dental Health Month is our way of reaching the children," Thornton said. "It's a great opportunity to have an impact on youngsters."
The presentation at Randolph Elementary will include the showing of a video, "Dudley Goes to the Dentist;" a "good food-bad food" game that will show students which foods promote oral health and which ones lead to cavities and discussions about "cavity bugs," the sugary substances that lead to cavities, and how cavities are formed.
"That's our main focus - how to prevent cavities," Thornton said.
Students will also learn how to brush and floss their teeth correctly and will receive a "goody bag" with toothpaste, a toothbrush and dental floss.
The "Dudley Goes to the Dentist" video "depicts the first visit to the dentist and what children should expect," Thornton said.
"We recommend a visit to the dentist by the age of one to get children acclimated to having a stranger looking inside their mouths," she said. "By getting children used to being in the dentist's office, they have less anxiety."
When children are very young, parents can assist the dentist, further easing their anxiety, Thornton said.
Parents should also assist their children when they brush and floss their teeth.
"We recommend that parents help their kids brush and floss through the age of 10, or when they have the dexterity," she said. "It's important to brush for at least two minutes. In addition, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient."
Another way parents can help their children is by promoting good eating habits and discouraging the consumption of sugary foods and liquids and other foods that promote tooth decay, Thornton said.
"Fruits, vegetables, nuts and fermented cheese are examples of foods that contribute to oral health," she said. "Anything that's good for your overall health is good for your dental health."