Dental clinic focuses on young smiles



by Rebekah Martin
Air University Public Affairs


2/4/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Every February, the American Dental Association sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness and inform the public about the importance of children's dental health.

To promote clean teeth and a healthy smile among military families, the Maxwell dental clinic actively participates in the themed month every year.

"Major Molar" and his trusty friends from the dental clinic will tour area elementary schools this month to help spread the word about oral health. The representatives will visit approximately 500 students from kindergarten to the 6th grade, including Maxwell Elementary School next week. The group will also make appearances at both Maxwell and Gunter's child development centers to visit pre-kindergarten students.

Children who meet Major Molar and his friends will learn how to brush and floss their pearly whites the right way and will receive a goody bag with necessary tools, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as a fun activity booklet.

Oral health and hygiene is extremely important for people of all ages, but even more so for children in their formative years, when teeth and gums are still developing. From birth to age 5, children are more susceptible to a variety of dental diseases.

According to pewtrusts.com, "Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, affecting nearly 60 percent of children." Making an effort to teach children and inform parents about good dental health habits at an early age can help dramatically lessen that percentage.

Captain (Dr.) Dana Burke, a dentist at Maxwell's clinic, believes teaching children early in life about the extreme importance of taking care of their smiles will help them in the future. She also heavily warns about the effects of neglecting oral hygiene.

"If baby teeth are not taken care of and cleaned properly, cavities can form and spread to the adult tooth buds still developing underneath the gums," she said.

Ensuring that children form good oral health habits sooner rather than later will improve the overall health of their beautiful smiles.