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NEWS | Feb. 21, 2012

Children's Dental Health Month is all smiles at JB Charleston

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint base Charleston Public Affairs

As February comes to a close, it also marks the conclusion of the month-long, Children's Dental Health Month, the American Dental Association's yearly observance created to raise awareness of children's oral health.

"Children's Dental Health Month may be coming to an end but healthy dental habits are something everyone should practice all year," said Senior Ariman Kristin Bruce, 628th Medical Group, dental assistant.

Although Bruce wears the rank of Senior Airman, she was recently given a different nickname by the children at the Joint Base Charleston - Air Base Child Development Center.

The children call her, "the tooth lady."

Bruce lived up to her nickname Feb. 9 and 10 when she and Gaye Adams, 628th Medical Group, chief of preventative dentistry, visited the CDC to show children first-hand the importance of healthy teeth.

"The children were very excited to learn about dental health," said Bruce. "We used cartoons, games, displays and toys to educate them. The more laughter and fun the children had, the more successful we were."

Tooth decay, however, is nothing to laugh about.

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 percent of children ages two to four have tooth decay and nearly one out of six have untreated tooth decay. By age 17, more than seven percent of children have lost at least one permanent tooth due to decay.

"It's vital to start healthy dental habits while children are young," said Bruce. "Children need the help and support of their parents to ensure they have good oral health care habits."

According to Bruce, parents should encourage and teach their children proper brushing and flossing techniques, proper nutrition and take them to the dentist for routine check-ups. These habits will make a difference in establishing successful dental health habits.

"Children's Dental Health Month was very successful," said Bruce. "I don't mind being remembered as the tooth lady at the CDC, as long as the children remember how important thier dental health is."