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Children's dental health should start early

Celebrate children's dental health during February.

February is National Children's Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Dental Association, Wisconsin Dental Association and Northwest District Dental Society with support from Crest and Oral B. The month-long observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral hygiene to children, their caregivers, teachers and the public.

This year's slogan is, "Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile." Parents, caregivers, teachers and dental team members are invited to download fun, educational materials from the and websites.

This month is the perfect time to celebrate the importance of teaching children how to practice good oral hygiene, because as soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur.

Help children remember their twos: Visit the dentist two times a year, and brush and floss two minutes two times a day. Remember to supervise and assist young children with brushing and flossing.

National Children's Dental Health Month first began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, on Feb. 3, 1941. The ADA held its first national Children's Dental Health Day on Feb. 8, 1949. It became a weeklong event in 1955 and was extended to a month-long observance in 1981. Since then, dental health month has grown from a two-city event into a nationwide program. Each year, children's dental health messages and materials reach millions of people in communities across the country.

The annual event helps focus our attention on the importance of oral health, especially in the young. Developing good oral hygiene habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits gives children a strong start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Even if the dentist only looks at the child's teeth for the first few visits, it's important to get them accustomed to a dental office. It is especially important that the first dental visit occur around a child's first birthday, because baby teeth do matter.

The article was submitted for Dr. Jon Nelson of Superior on behalf of the Northwest District Dental Society.