The American Dental Association has declared February National Children’s Dental Health Month. This year’s campaign includes posters reminding kids to brush and floss every day as well as a program planning guide for parents and teachers to promote kids’ oral health. Associated with National Children’s Dental Health Month is the Give Kids A Smile program, which so far this month has provided free oral health care for nearly 400,000 kids.
A recent survey from the Ohio Department of Health found that Ohio families of all income levels identify dental care as a top unmet health need for their children. Additionally, nearly 340,000 Ohio children have never visited a dentist and fifty percent of Ohio third graders have tooth decay. Poor dental health has been linked to adverse health outcomes such as respiratory infections, heart disease, obesity, preterm birth and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Schubert Center Faculty Associate and Professor in the School of Dental Medicine Dr. James Lalumandier works with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to improve oral health of local students. The Healthy Smiles Sealant Program, a joint initiative of the Saint Luke’s Foundation, Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, provides second, third, and sixth grade students with free, in-school dental examinations and sealants on key molars. Dental School students and local dentist volunteers examined 6,000 students during the 2009 to 2010 school year.