Sheri's Solutions: What are you doing for Children's Dental Health Month?

2015 03 31 16 23 41 686 Doniger Sheri 2015 200

"Are you doing anything for Children's Dental Health Month?"

Absolutely! How better to market the need for healthy teeth and the oral-systemic connection than talking to kids about keeping their teeth healthy for a lifetime?

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.

I have been an active participant in Children's Dental Health Month (CDHM) programs since my days as a dental hygiene student. My partner in crime, Andi, and I went into schools every year, with our bags of healthy snacks, talking about how "clean teeth taste good."

Over the years, I have participated in random school programs, and, currently, I visit my daughter's kindergarten class to talk teeth. We discuss what are the uses of teeth, and the kids come up with their ideas: eating, chewing, and biting into food.

At the end of their suggestions, I say, "What is the most important thing that teeth can do?" On that cue, my daughter puts on a big smile and I say, "They give us a great smile!" Since it is my daughter, we usually improvise it a little, and they get a big kick out of the discussion because it is relatable.

“It does not matter the topic, just the connection with students and their ability to interact with us in a 'nonoffice' is always great.”

I love the questions you get from little kids. Someone always had a loose tooth or had dental work. They love talking to us. It is a rare occasion when kids, especially the younger ones, have an opportunity to interact with dental professionals in an "out-of-office experience."

Going one step further, visiting upper grades and speaking about proper oral hygiene, the dangers of smokeless tobacco, and mentoring the youngsters about the profession are other ways to connect during CDHM. I have spoken to several health classes in high school about the connection between dental and general health, in addition to the business of dentistry. It does not matter the topic, just the connection with students and their ability to interact with us in a "nonoffice" is always great.

My village proclaimed February as Children's Dental Health Month, via a decree that I suggested to the mayor. He was very excited about presenting this proclamation, and we now have an officially signed and sealed copy in our office. This is an important task accomplished easily each year.

Helping kids understand the need for healthy teeth to last their lifetime is crucial. With all the options of unhealthy snacks, nontraditional meals, and periods of lack of personal oral hygiene, anything we are able to do to promote healthy teeth and oral health is a bonus!

What are you going to do this month?

To see the proclamation, visit Dr. Doniger's Facebook page.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She is the immediate past president of the American Association of Women Dentists and editor of the American Association of Women Dentists "Chronicle" newsletter. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. You can reach her at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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