News Releases

News Releases

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

Feb. 2, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is helping parents brush up on their child’s oral hygiene routine to help build positive habits that lead to healthy smiles.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, an initiative led by the American Dental Association to raise 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.

The statewide 2017-18 Oral Health Needs Assessment showed that approximately 47% of the students who were assessed had experienced tooth decay and 20% had untreated decay. DHEC’s Division of Oral Health works to promote good oral health for all children, teens and adults in South Carolina. The Division of Oral Health provides: 

•    screening guidelines for school nurses
•    oral health curricula for K-4th grade students
•    data and resources for dentists and other health care providers
•    oral health trainings for community frontline workers
•    oral cancer prevention 
•    specialized materials on the importance of oral health during pregnancy and for patients with diabetes
•    information about fluoride in public water supplies

“Our hope is for parents to understand that good oral care begins as early as infancy, before a child’s first tooth even appears,” said Michael Tredway, director of DHEC’s Division of Oral Health. “Maintaining healthy mouth hygiene throughout childhood is essential, not just for preventing tooth decay and mouth disease, but to improve speech, build self-esteem, and instill good nutrition. A healthy mouth is a key part of a child’s overall wellness.”

DHEC encourages parents to implement mouth care routines while their children are babies. 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.

To learn more about oral health for children and teens, visit or visit the American Dental Association at



Media Relations