February is National Children’s Dental Health Month
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Oral health is an important component of a child’s overall health and well-being: Children with poor oral health are more likely to suffer from chronic pain and infections, have trouble eating and speaking, miss more school, and receive lower grades.
Prenatal oral health also has important implications for the health of pregnant people and their babies. During pregnancy, changes to a woman’s hormone levels and diet increase their risk for several oral health conditions, including caries, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease in pregnant women and people has been correlated to adverse birth outcomes, including preterm birth and low newborn birth weight. High levels of cariogenic bacteria in pregnant people can lead to increased dental caries in infants.
Early childhood caries are the most common chronic disease of early childhood, despite being preventable through the application of fluoride varnish. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that preventive fluoride be applied to the primary teeth of all infants and children starting at the age of primary tooth eruption to prevent caries.
HB19-1038, Dental Services for Pregnant Women on Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), added a dental insurance benefit for pregnant women and people on CHP+. The Children’s Campaign strongly supported the passage of this bill, and was also one of the leading organizations on HB22-1289, Health Benefits for Colorado Children and Pregnant Persons (Cover All Coloradans), which expands Medicaid and CHP+ coverage, including associated dental benefits, to undocumented pregnant and postpartum people and children.
Learn more about child dental health at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s website. The American Dental Association also is providing free posters, flyers, postcards and fun activities for children in promotion of National Children’s Dental Health month.