Last Updated on February 9, 2022 by Corinne Schmitt
This post was sponsored by Give Kids A Smile as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
I write a lot about random acts of kindness because I think it’s so important to make a positive mark on the world. Each month I create kindness calendars filled with suggestions related to each month’s themes and special holidays as a springboard for good deeds.
You might have noticed in my February Kindness Calendar post that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. I suggested donating dental hygiene supplies to a local shelter. It’s an easy way to make a difference.
Today I’d like to give a shout-out to an organization that does a lot to support children’s dental health. I hope you’ll be as inspired by this organization as I am, and that it motivates you to support this important cause.
Why is Children’s Dental Health Important?
Most of us know that proper dental hygiene is required to prevent cavities in kids’ teeth. We don’t give much thought to the fact that long-term neglect can also result in gum disease and tooth loss.
Dental health isn’t just about preventing cavities. It’s also related to overall health and self-esteem.
Kids don’t think about the the effects of poor dental hygiene until their teeth are visibly decayed or are causing them pain. By that point, they might be embarrassed about their teeth. They will often refrain from smiling and try to avoid talking to keep people from noticing their teeth.
Even worse, if the decay is so bad that they are experiencing pain, children can have trouble paying attention in school. Children with untreated tooth decay also miss more school days.
And did you know that gum disease puts you at greater risk for diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease? That’s a steep price to pay for skimping on proper dental hygiene, which should take just a few minutes each day.
For more information about children’s dental health, visit MouthHealthy.org.
What is Proper Dental Hygiene?
You probably already know that children (and adults) should brush their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time. If you’re diligent about dental hygiene, you also ensure your child flosses each day and sees the dentist twice a year.
Oddly, many aspects of dental hygiene are related to other healthy habits. Two of the best things you can do for your children’s teeth is feed them a healthy diet and make sure they drink plenty of water. The nutrients in a healthy diet contribute to stronger teeth that are decay-resistant. In contrast, an unhealthy diet that consists of lots of carbohydrates and sugars feeds the acid and bacteria that lead to tooth decay.
Meanwhile, water is not only vital for your health, it does wonders for your teeth! Fluoride, added to many cities’ water supplies, plays an important role in protecting tooth enamel and preventing tooth decay. In addition, drinking water helps rinse away sugar and leftover food that would otherwise feed cavity-causing bacteria.
What’s the Purpose of Children’s Dental Health Month?
Unfortunately, what many of us take for granted – the knowledge and tools to practice good dental hygiene – aren’t available to everyone. Nearly half of minority, underserved, and Medicaid recipients have untreated cavities. These individuals either lack the knowledge or the resources to get proper dental care.
Thankfully, there are a lot of people who noticed this and decided to do something about it! 15 years ago, a small group of volunteers banded together to provide oral health services to those in need.
They created Give Kids A Smile ;(GKAS) with the goal of helping underserved children receive education, screening, preventive care and dental treatment. The original one-day event took place in St. Louis and helped 400 children. With the support of the American Dental Association, it’s expanded to all 50 states and serves more than 5 1/2 million children.
GKAS is made up of volunteer dental professionals (including dentists, hygienists, assistants, technicians, office staff and students), as well as other concerned adults (teachers, parents, school nurses, and other health professionals).
How YOU Can Help
One of the best things you can do is to encourage kids to practice good dental hygiene habits.
- Brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss once a day
- Eat healthy meals
- Visit the dentist at least once each year
Also, if you know a dentist who is a volunteer for GKAS, thank him or her for their service!
Finally, the best thing you can do is help spread awareness about children’s oral health. You can find out more at ADAFoundation.org/GKAS. Also, like the Give Kids A Smile Facebook page for more information and ideas.
Where Do I Get Help?
If your child needs oral health care, you can find a list of resources on the GKAS website. Select “Find Dental Care for Your Child” from the menu on the left to find a list of resources. You can also call 1-888-490-GKAS (4527) to find out if there is a GKAS program in your local area.