National Children’s Dental Health Month
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and making sure that your child has a healthy mouth, teeth and gums begins with good habits at home.
- Brushing and flossing at least twice a day
- Eating or drinking foods that are good for your teeth (milk, water, fruits and vegetables)
- Not sharing utensils or blowing on food to avoid spreading bacteria
- Visiting the dentist at least once a year
- Modeling these habits for your children
Sometimes, even when these healthy habits are followed, a child might still get a cavity. One of the best ways to keep your child’s teeth healthy is to have a sealant applied to them.
Sealants are plastic coatings put on the chewing surfaces of back teeth to prevent decay. Sealants should be placed as soon as possible after these teeth come through the gums, usually around age 6 for first molars and age 12 for second molars. Most sealants are placed by dentists in their office, but you can also get them at some school-based sealant programs or community clinics. Placing sealants takes just a couple of minutes and is completely painless.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that sealants can prevent 80% of cavities on back teeth, while school-aged children without sealants are three times more likely to have tooth decay on their first molars than those who get sealants.
A well-placed sealant can last up to 10 years, though it can chip or wear and may need to be repaired or replaced. Sealants on first and second permanent molars are covered by most insurances, including Delta Dental of Virginia.
Use National Children’s Dental Health Month as a reminder to talk with your dentist about dental sealants. If you need a dentist for your child and do not have one:
- Call your dental insurance provider.
- Ask the school nurse if they have a school sealant program at your child’s school (many do and most are free.)
- Call a free clinic or one of these clinics near you to see if they have dental services at no charge or at a low cost.
Michael D Weitzner, DMD, MS, Delta Dental of Virginia Dental Director
Polly Raible, Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation Executive Director