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Good Oral Health Should Not Be Scary This Halloween

Sunday, October 22, 2006 | 07:00pm

Start Good Oral Health Habits In Early Childhood

 Nashville, October 23, 2006

As your children prepare to go trick-or-treating this Halloween, remember that the sweet candy they get might not have such sweet results for their teeth.

October is National Dental Hygiene Month and the Tennessee Department of Health’s dental hygienists and the National Dental Hygienists Association encourage all trick-or-treaters and those giving out treats to remember good oral health during Halloween. The theme of this year’s observance is “A Healthy Smile Lasts a Lifetime,” and stresses the importance of proper childhood oral health care. 

“Sugary candy handed out on Halloween is unhealthy for children’s teeth so encourage healthy treats and lots of tooth brushing this holiday,” said Oral Health Services Director Suzanne Hayes, DDS. “Encouraging good oral health habits is important because oral health impacts overall health.”

As part of the Department’s school-based dental preventive programs during fiscal year 2005-2006, dental hygienists and other public health professionals conducted 152,680 dental screenings on children, referring 40,148 of those children for dental care, all of which received follow up dental treatment. More than 322,400 teeth were sealed on 54,882 children. Also, 73,819 children received comprehensive dental exams and oral health education programs were presented to 192,970 children in 353 schools.  

“Dental hygienists have been an integral part of the Department’s success in treating and educating children about oral health,” Hayes said. “Without their assistance, treatment of these thousands of children would not be possible.” 

There are ways to ensure good oral health for your child during Halloween and year-round:

  • Avoid sugary snacks. Choose fresh fruits to soothe your child’s sweet tooth instead.
  • Brush and floss twice a day and after meals and snacks. Gums should be gently cleansed after feedings and before bedtime using a soft-bristled infant toothbrush dampened with water. As children grow older, parents can teach them how to brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Make sure your child drinks fluoridated water.
  • Visit a dental professional twice a year, starting with your child’s first birthday.
  • Set a good example! Brush, floss, eat healthy foods and schedule regular oral health visits for yourself.

For more information about Tennessee’s oral health programs for children and adults, please visit http://www2.state.tn.us/health/oralhealth/index.html. For more information about National Dental Hygiene Month, please visit the American Dental Hygienists Association at http://www.adha.org/.

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