FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2017
COLUMBIA - Reports show some children are missing hours of school each year due to oral health problems, causing them to miss out on critical instruction time. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging parents to turn their little ones into scholars by helping them brush up on their oral health habits.
February is National Children's Dental Health Month and this year's theme is "Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile."
Although it's preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. When left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain and infections that can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
DHEC encourages parents to support good habits at home like brushing teeth twice a day for two minutes and visiting the dentist regularly, so children can have healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. DHEC's Division of Oral Health collaborates with the S.C. Dental Association and the Columbia Marionette Theater to support a traveling puppet show called "Flora and Floppy go to the Dentist." This interactive show teaches children what they need to do to have healthy smiles. Some of the key messages in the puppet show are brushing and flossing, going to the dentist, drinking water with fluoride, getting dental sealants, and eating healthy foods.
"The Flora and Floppy puppet show have been able to reach over 43,000 children in schools and Head Start centers across the state with a positive oral health message since it began in 2007," said Dr. Ray LaLa, director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC.
Even though tooth decay has been on the decline for the past 30 years, it is still prevalent in children ages 6 to 19. South Carolina's Oral Health Needs Assessment in 2012 showed a decline in untreated decay, but over 40 percent of the students screened had some form of decay experience. Consistent preventive messages and behaviors, and public health interventions such as community water fluoridation can go a long way to improve the oral health status of children in South Carolina.
Here are some useful tips for parents and caregivers to help protect their children from future dental issues.
DHEC Media Relations