Dental cavities and tooth decay are one of the most common medical conditions experienced by Americans and the single most common disease of childhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 19 percent of children have untreated cavities and approximately 41 percent of children have decay in their “baby teeth.” This is a health statistic that has not improved since the 1970s and recent studies are indicating a new rise in cavities in children.
In order to help children learn the importance of taking care of their teeth and make it a fun and easy experience, United Way of Southern Nevada hosts “Brush At Lunch” programs in partnership with Future Smiles at its partner child care centers.
This interactive workshop for preschool children takes place inside preschool classrooms, with two dental hygienists. Teachers and children discuss the importance of taking care of their teeth, healthy versus unhealthy food, and how going to the dentist can be fun.
Many of these children have never had a dental check-up so their first visit can be a painful or uncomfortable experience. The sooner a child is familiar with a dentist or hygienist, the better.
Children should brush their teeth at least twice a day, so United Way provides dental supplies for each classroom to assist them in brushing properly after meals. Each preschool age child also receives a take home kit that includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, timer and educational materials, as well as information on how to contact Future Smiles for services.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) provided over 2,000 easy to read publications to families at our partner preschool centers. The topics include the definition of tooth decay and prevention, the importance of dental sealants, and critical the role that caregivers play at home in maintaining good oral health.
Upon completion of this fiscal year, 14 child development centers will have received the Brush At Lunch program. Over 250 children have received oral health education and supplies this year, and that number continues to rise as we move forward.