February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds parents the key to a lifelong, healthy smile is early preventive care. Beginning regular dental visits by the age of 1 year, using fluoridated water and brushing twice a day can help prevent painful cavities from forming in a child’s mouth.
This year, IDPH’s theme for National Children’s Dental Health Month is “Show Off Your Smile.” A child with a healthy, show off-ready smile will have more confidence when speaking, eating and interacting with others. “Cavities can be painful for your child, making it hard to focus on learning new skills at school and at home. Kids with cavities may also have difficulty eating food, which helps their bodies to grow,” said IDPH oral health consultant Stephanie Chickering.
The IDPH I-Smile™ Dental Home Initiative is a program that helps Iowa's children connect with dental services. Using a team approach, dentists provide definitive evaluation and treatment when needed. Other health professionals, such as dental hygienists, physicians and nurses, are a part of a larger network and can provide oral screenings, education, anticipatory guidance and preventive services as needed.
There are 23 I-Smile™ coordinators around the state who are responsible for working with children and families; dentists and dental office staff; medical providers; school nurses, teachers, and administrators; businesses; civic organizations; and social service organizations. The coordinators work for county health departments or private, non-profit organizations to administer I-Smile™ in all 99 Iowa counties.
For more information about I-Smile™, visit https://ismile.idph.iowa.gov/.