News Releases

News Releases

DHEC Helps Parents Brush Up on Good Oral Health Habits for Kids

February 12, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is helping parents brush up on the importance of their child’s oral hygiene and the positive habits that lead to healthy smiles.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, an initiative that raises awareness about the importance of good oral health. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, but it can be prevented if parents help establish positive oral hygiene habits sooner rather than later.

DHEC’s Division of Oral Health received a federally funded Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Quality Improvement Expansion Grant to support the oral health of South Carolina’s youngest children. The funding helps expand the public’s access to preventive oral health information through their local health departments and medical and dental settings.

“We’re trying to expand the recognition of oral health as an essential part of total health and well-being from the earliest age,” said Dr. Ray Lala, director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC. “We want receiving a toothbrush at a DHEC regional office or from a pediatrician to be a common experience. Prevention is key, and we can all be messengers.”

DHEC encourages parents to implement mouth care routines beginning as early as infancy, before a child’s first tooth even appears. To help prevent dental issues, parents should:

  • Begin oral care during infancy by wiping a baby’s gums and mouth with a soft cloth
  • Brush a child's teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day for two minutes. Children under the age of three should use a smear of toothpaste, and children over three should use a pea-sized amount.
  • Take their children for regular dentist visits beginning at the age of one.
  • Talk to a pediatrician, family doctor, nurse or dentist about putting fluoride varnish on children's teeth as soon as they get their first tooth.
  • Limit a child’s consumption of sugary snacks and drinks.
  • Ask their child's dentist about dental sealants that protect teeth from decay.

A healthy mouth is an important part of a child’s overall wellbeing. To learn more about oral health care, visit



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