One in seven children ages 6-12 years suffered a toothache in the last six months. Tooth decay or cavities is a chronic condition for one in every five children in elementary school. At least 20% of elementary age students in the nation have at least one untreated cavity. The percentage of children ages 5–19 years from low-income families doubles at 25 percent as compared with children from higher-income households at 12 percent. If students’ teeth are aching, they are not focused on their academics.
Williams/Ledger Elementary addressed oral hygiene with its students in partnership with the Ace Dental Marketing Team. The toothy lesson addressed Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills requirement for students learning about community helpers and businesses.
Dressed up in tooth costumes, Ace employees danced around the room asking questions geared toward each student’s personal dental care regiment. “Have you ever been to a dentist before? Why do we need to go to the dentist?” were just a couple of the questions asked by Beatriz Serrano.
Students responded that they were not old enough to go to the dentist, it is too expensive or they were afraid. Other students who do have regular dental visits said dental care was important so their teeth did not fall out.
“At your age, you are starting to lose your baby teeth. You should go to a dentist at least two to three times a year,” Serrano told the students. “They will clean your teeth and check that your teeth are growing the way they should.”
Poor oral health can have a detrimental effect on children’s quality of life, their performance at school, and their success later in life. Tooth decay is preventable and ensuring students have the preventive oral health services they need in school is important in helping them stay healthy and ready to learn, Serrano said.
Demonstrations were shown to the students on to how to brush teeth, and how long and how many times a day to brush teeth. The students pretended to brush their own teeth “to make their teeth shine” and “so we don’t have bad breath” the students said.
“We should brush our teeth after every meal, or at least once in the morning and once before we go to bed, if we can’t brush after every meal,” Serrano said.
According to the American Dental Association, children older than age two years should be using a fluoride toothpaste. The ADA makes the following recommendations.
- Children’s teeth should be brushed twice daily, ideally upon waking up in the morning and before going to bed in the evening.
- Children should drink tap water that contains fluoride.
- Ask your child’s dentist to apply dental sealants when appropriate.
- If your child is younger than 6 years old, watch him brush. Make sure he uses a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and always spit it out rather than swallow.
- Help your child brush until he has good brushing skills.