February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Written by: Hunter Nelson
Date Posted: February 24, 2023

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.   

Hunter Nelson

About Hunter Nelson

Hunter works as a Policy Analyst at the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she supports the Children Campaign’s Vice President of Health Initiatives and other policy staff by assisting in the management of coalitions, maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, conducting relevant data collection and analysis, and coordinating policy advocacy strategies with other Children’s Campaign staff. Before coming to the Children’s Campaign, Hunter served as the Volunteer and Data Specialist for Child Advocates – Denver CASA, interned with the Bell Policy Center, and worked as a research assistant at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. She has also worked with multiple organizations serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness across Metro Denver. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from Arizona State University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver.