Each year the American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month. The annual campaign encourages dental and other health care professionals to promote the benefits of good oral health care to children and their caregivers. This national health observance brings together thousands of professionals and providers to educate on the importance of oral hygiene from a very early age.
Each year there is a new theme for the event. The 2021 theme is “Water. Nature’s Drink.” The theme provides a launching point for materials and activities to share throughout the month. The ADA provides dentists with resources to support the event theme as well as many other suggestions on how to educate their patients and parents.
Themed posters can be purchased here. Free downloadable posters are available here. There are also downloadable flyers, crosswords, coloring sheets, and other activities available in both English and Spanish.
Beyond the themed materials, there is a full programming guide available to download here. The guide offers turnkey ways for dentists and other healthcare professionals to educate and inform their patients and communities about children’s dental health. Another excellent resource for children’s oral health tips is https://mouthmonsters.mychildrensteeth.org/. Dentists can find free resources and downloads to share with parents and others here.
The ADA and other organizations offer many suggestions for activities and educational opportunities in which dentists may participate in National Children’s Dental Health Month. Several of the suggestions involve going into the community (schools, health fairs, etc.) to make presentations. If you are hesitant to go into the community this year, consider the ‘non-contact’ suggestions. Here are a few of the thought starters directly from ADA.org.
- Conduct a dental health screening. Schools, clinics, churches, and community centers are good places to hold dental health screenings. Once the details are confirmed, announce the screening in a press release to local newspapers, radio, and television stations. Provide children with oral health “report cards” that they can take home.
- Offer school A classroom visit is the cornerstone of many NCDHM programs. Choose your target audience: preschool, elementary or high school. Contact the school nurse, health or physical education instructor or the school administrator to make arrangements. You may wish to distribute toothbrushes, toothpaste, or dental floss. For presentation ideas, see: ADA.org/ncdhm
- Reach out to new parents by speaking at childbirth classes and parent- teacher organization meetings. Provide new parents with dental health packets for newborns. Distribute pamphlets and posters to obstetricians and pediatricians for use in reception areas. This is a good way to reach new parents and enlist support from other healthcare professionals.
- Participate in a health fair. Your local malls, community centers, hospitals, schools, park districts, clinics and banks are good locations for small health fairs. Approach a local business, hospital, or clinic to co-sponsor a community health fair. Dental health exhibits can feature posters, mouth models, literature, and hands-on demonstrations. Show a dental health video for children. Offer a toothbrush trade-in or a visit with the tooth fairy.
- A simple way to promote oral health at schools, libraries, clinics, and community centers is to create an oral health bulletin board. The board could include brochures, tips, health messages and a list of resources.
- Sponsor a display or exhibit at the local library. The display might include NCDHM posters, dental messages, photos of children receiving oral health exams, dental equipment, dental care products and mouth models.
- Contact hospitals or public service organizations. These organizations may use oral health messages, announcements and events in their newsletters, bulletin boards, web sites, electronic signs, or mailings.
Get in on the action this month! When parents and caregivers understand more about brushing habits, flossing, rinsing, nutrition, and consistent routine; they can implement healthy practices for their children. Good oral hygiene keeps little smiles healthy from the start.