It’s February again, and time to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month! National Children’s Dental Health Month was once a one-day event that was first observed on February 8th in 1949. It was established by the American Dental Association to promote good oral habits for kids, to give them an excellent start for a lifetime of healthy gums and teeth. Six years later, the one-day affair was extended to a week, and now, it’s celebrated for the entire month of February.
This year’s theme is: “Fluoride in water prevents cavities. Get it from the tap!” The theme is designed to increase awareness of the many benefits found in tap water that has been treated with fluoride. To further promote dental health to kids, here are nine ways you and your whole dental team can observe and celebrate!
9 Ways to Celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month
1. Give Away Kid-Themed Toothbrushes
In case you’re not doing this already – help make brushing fun! Encourage parents of your littlest patients to turn tooth-brushing time into a game at home. Add to the fun by handing out themed or silly-shaped toothbrushes at your Dental Office for the month of February.
2. Discounts & Promotions
Discounts are always appreciated by parents with young kiddos. Offering a discount or promotion to
patients under the age of 12 will encourage parents to bring in their kids for a cleaning or exam. Offering your promotion ONLY to patients who book in February is a great way to fill up your schedule and get more patients in your chairs. The more patients you see in February, the more awareness you can bring on proper dental hygiene for tiny teeth! It’s also important to remind your patients that children should have regular dental checkups every 6 months.
3. Head to the Schools (and Show the Plaque)
Integrating oral health into schools is an incredibly important movement! Try connecting with some local schools to offer a one-day dental clinic, or a dental hygiene presentation. Lots of children may not fully understand why brushing is so important. As a fun activity during a dental presentation or a clinic, many hygienists use a plaque discoloration solution to help kids see the “germs” or plaque they left on their teeth. A plaque discoloration solution helps demonstrate where the germs hides, and why it’s important to brush.
4. Do A Fun Science Experiment!
Hands-on learning is one of the most effective methods for teaching kids. There’s an easy science experiment you can do that demonstrates how the sugar, acids, and color in drinks, candy and junk food can harm teeth. You can demonstrate this in class for everyone to see and for those who’d like to do it at home:print out simple step-by-step instructions for this fun experiment that kids can do at home!
- Submerge a hard-boiled egg (with the shell on) into a glass of soda and another into a glass of dark-colored fruit juice, such as grape juice, for about 24 hours. Since eggshells and teeth are both made of calcium, this experiment will show how harmful these sugary drinks can be.
- Wait 24 hours and check your eggs. They will be significantly discolored.
- Take the eggs out of the drinks, and let your kids try brushing the eggs with an old toothbrush.
This demonstrates how hard it is to remove stains, and how much of what’s left will be permanent. Next time you see your patients, ask them about what they learned!
5. Give Out Full-Sized Flavored Toothpaste
Want to encourage brushing even more? Lots of dental offices give out sample sized tubes of toothpaste. For the month of February, try giving your pediatric patients fun flavored, full-sized tubes of toothpaste. And don’t forget to advise parents to supervise their littles’ brushing time! Flavored toothpaste tastes so good, kiddos might be tempted to eat it – yikes!
6. Celebrate with Art
A creative way to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month is to pass out dental-themed posters, coloring pages and activity sheets to your students and patients. Ask them to complete these and share their artwork with you once they’re done. You can put the artwork up on a special board in your dental practice for the rest of the month. Or, if your Dental Practice has a social media account, ask your patients to share their artwork and tag your office! You can even host a contest, and re-share the winning pieces! Make sure to ask for parental permission first!
7. Be Social
If your dental practice has a social media page, post relevant articles about National Children’s Dental Health Month and use the hashtag #NCDMH. Share tips, facts, and more about children’s oral healthcare and hygiene. This type of engagement can help you interact not only with your existing patients, but also inspire new patients to visit your Dental Office!
8. Organize an Oral Care Drive
Many struggling families cannot afford to buy the necessary oral healthcare products. To give back to your community AND celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month, organize an oral care drive. Distribute Dental Hygiene Kits to people in need in your community. Include instruction sheets on proper brushing and flossing technique. This kind of community project is important for so many reasons: you’re helping people in need, implementing important preventative oral care practices, and showing that your Dental Office cares about your community!
9. Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
The most important part of National Children’s Dental Health Month is education. Order fun and colorful posters or flyers that are easy to understand. Use them to teach your pediatric patients about proper brushing and flossing, as well as which types of foods and drinks promote healthy teeth. Make sure to include lots of pictures! Hand one out to all your patients, big and small. Everyone could use a refresher on how to take better care of their teeth!
“A toothbrush and dental floss hold no age or socio-economic barriers”
-Dr. Eva Dahl DDS, MS
Dr. Deborah Marynak is the owner of DentalStaffing.org, a dentist with over 30 years experience, and is committed to helping Dental Professionals find the right fit for both employees and employers. She also works with Dental Offices to help them streamline their clinical systems and teach Dental Teams how to effectively document to avoid risk.