National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) turns 60 this year. NCDHM began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio on Feb. 3, 1941. The American Dental Association (ADA) held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on Feb. 8, 1949. This single day observance became a week-long event in 1955. In 1981, the program was extended to a month-long celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month.
Each February, since 1949, the ADA has sponsored the month to raise awareness among families and policymakers about the importance to children of good oral health habits. During this month, dental professionals across the country will focus on the preventive oral care of this nation's children.
The Michigan Dental Association and its 26 local dental societies take great pride in celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month. Dentists throughout the state conduct oral health screenings and provide educational programs in schools and for community organizations.
In Michigan, it is expected that more than 15,000 children throughout the state will receive free oral health screenings or dental treatment, and an additional 9,000 children will receive oral health education as part of the Give Kids a Smile campaign. More than 400 members of the Michigan Dental Association, along with 1,200 hygienists, assistants and volunteers will participate in Give Kids a Smile day this year.
“Oral health is such an important part of a child’s overall good health, and yet it can be overlooked in young children, said Michigan Dental Association President Joanne Dawley, D.D.S. “Good oral health habits should begin with an introductory dental visit before a child’s first birthday. Children’s teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and with proper care, a healthy diet and regular dental visits, children can have a lifetime of health smiles.”
In San Jose, California, Dr. Kim Loos will be leading the effort with educational and fun presentations to kindergarteners and first graders. One of the topics Dr. Loos will discuss is the first visit to the dentist.