Health unit gives kids tips on keeping a bright smile

The Ontario Association of Public Health Dentistry (OAPHD), along with public health units across Ontario, has launched an awareness campaign for Oral Health Month.

According to Leeanne Pepper, a registered dental hygienist with the Public Health Unit in Chatham-Kent, the “Brush Up on the Facts: Keep Kids’ Teeth Healthy” campaign is geared to parents, and focuses on the impact dental health has on kids’ healthy growth and development and the free dental programs and services that are available for eligible kids 0-17.

Pepper and a team from the PHU have been visiting Grade 2 classes across the municipality this month, with the goal of making kids aware of the importance of brushing your teeth morning and night, flossing, drinking water instead of sugary drinks, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis.

She said good oral health is important for a child’s self-esteem, sense of well-being and overall health. Cavities can be painful, impact a child’s ability to chew foods properly, and may affect their ability to pay attention at school or enjoy activities.

“When kids have dental pain, it is more than just having a cavity,” Pepper explained. “Children need to keep their teeth healthy for their overall health. That’s why we want everyone to Brush Up on the Facts to help keep kids teeth healthy.”

In a presentation to a Grade 2 class at St. Ursula School in Chatham, Pepper showed the students how plaque can build up on teeth, mixing with sugar to create acid, which in turn, leads to cavities. She had lots of pointers for the kids, like drinking chocolate milk after exercise instead of Gatorade or juice, and showed the proper way to brush and floss.

The each student was also given a water bottle, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss picks and a card to remind them to visit the dentist.

She added it is important for children to visit a dental professional regularly (at least annually) to prevent issues from starting. Get dental issues checked immediately, regardless if they have “baby teeth” or “adult teeth.”

Small steps can be taken today to help children avoid dental issues such as limiting sugary snacks and drinks, helping them brush and floss properly, and contacting Chatham-Kent Public Health for more information.

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