Tooth decay, one of the most prevalent chronic diseases affecting children in the United States, can cause pain and infections that can lead to problems eating, speaking and learning.
The Lincoln Trail District Health Department is striving to reduce the number of children in our area who have untreated tooth decay with a mobile dental unit program called Smile Travelers. Our team of licensed hygienists, dental assistants and health educators use this portable equipment to provide a variety of dental services. Services are provided at schools, preschools, childcare facilities and other places in Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington counties.
Services include cleanings, fluoride treatments and dental sealants for eligible students. Education on oral hygiene and nutrition also is provided. Staff will also send a treatment report home with each child served, refer students to dentists, help families find a dental home and more.
Smile Travelers is an efficient and effective way to overcome barriers and reach children and families who do not have a regular dental care provider. Some of those barriers include lack of awareness about the importance of dental health, lack of dental insurance or means to pay for services, lack of transportation or uncompensated time off work for parents.
For more information about Smile Travelers, contact your health department.
You can help fight tooth decay, too.
Here’s a look at what parents and caregivers can do to encourage good oral health for children.
- Encourage your children to eat regular nutritious meals and avoid frequent between-meal snacking.
- Protect your child’s teeth with fluoride.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste. If your child is younger than 7, use only a pea-sized drop of toothpaste.
- If your drinking water does not contain fluoride, talk to a dentist or physician about the best way to protect your child’s teeth.
- Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants, which can protect teeth from decay.
- If you are pregnant, get prenatal care, a dental exam and eat a healthy diet including folic acid to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord and possibly cleft lip/palate.
- Children should brush their teeth at least 2 times each day for 2 minutes. Younger children will need an adult’s help.
- Flossing between the teeth should be done every day as soon as your child has two teeth that touch. Children younger than 10 years old will need an adult’s help.
- Limit sugary drinks such as sodas, sports drinks and juice. Water is best because it does not contain sugar.
- For more information visit the American Dental Association’s website at www.mouthhealthy.org