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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Oral-HealthFebruary is National Children’s Dental Health Month
Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy

February 22, 2011 (San Diego, Calif.) — February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and First 5 San Diego is reminding parents and caregivers about the importance of brushing and taking care of their children’s teeth.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, nearly 50 percent of children have tooth decay before age five.  A study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that over one-third (36.4%) of children ages one through five in San Diego County have never visited a dentist.

“A significant number of San Diego’s children enter Kindergarten with severe tooth decay,” said Barbara Jiménez, executive director, First 5 San Diego.  “The pain affects their ability to focus and learn and is the number one reason children are missing school.”

First 5 San Diego is committed to promoting the importance of oral health for children and pregnant women.  Through their Oral Health Initiative (OHI), they provide dental checkups and treatment for young children and pregnant women who would otherwise go untreated.  Last year, (FY 2009-2010), OHI providers served more than 19,000 children and 2,300 pregnant women. 

“There is a great need for accessible oral health services in our communities,” said Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, Chairwoman of the First 5 Commission of San Diego.  “There is an even stronger demand for dental health education.  Families want to know how to prevent cavities and protect their children’s smiles.”

Good oral health is important for the overall healthy development of young children.  A pregnant woman’s oral health impacts the health of her baby; a young child’s good oral health is important to learning and school success.  First 5 San Diego encourages parents and caregivers to begin taking care of children’s teeth and gums early on with the following helpful tips:

  • Take your child to the dentist by age one or when his or her first tooth erupts.
  • Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears and remember an adult needs to help children brush until around age 7.
  • If you are pregnant, be sure to visit your dentist and get any needed treatment.
  • More oral health tips  http://first5sandiego.org/oral-health-tips

For more information about First 5 San Diego’s Oral Health Initiative and to access dental services in San Diego County, call 1-888-5 FIRST 5 or visit www.first5sandiego.org.

About the First 5 Commission of San Diego
The first five years of life are critical to a child’s development. These years shape a child’s success in school and in life. First 5 San Diego helps parents and others help children during these early years. The Commission leads the greater San Diego community in promoting the vital importance of the first 5 years of life to the well-being of children, families and society. The ultimate goal of the Commission’s work is that all children ages 0 to 5 are healthy, loved and nurtured, and enter school as active learners. Learn more at first5sandiego.org or call toll-free 1 (888) 5 FIRST 5.

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