A Maryland State Department of Education Resource


February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!

This year's theme is "Brush, Floss, Smile."

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!
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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!

2023 National Children's Dental Health Month Poster

Join the Maryland State Department of Education, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Dental Association, Maryland’s Dental Action Coalition, and schools and programs nationwide to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM)!

In February, dental care professionals, health care providers, educators and families come together annually to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. This year’s theme is “Brush, Floss, Smile.”

Healthy smiles build confidence in children and later in adulthood. That’s why it’s critical that healthy oral habits start early. For example, experts recommend that families gently clean infant gums with a wet cloth to get them used to the brushing sensation. Families should schedule their little ones’ first dental visit by the first birthday. By age 12,  brushing and flossing their adult teeth twice daily should be the routine to prevent any painful and costly issues. 

DYK:  Children up to age 19 can get x-rays, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, fillings and more with free or low-cost coverage from Medicaid and CHIP. Find dental coverage or a dentist.

According to the AAPD, cavities are four times more common than childhood asthma and three times more likely than childhood obesity. The AAPD recently released its State of Little Teeth Report, which examines the epidemic of tooth decay among children and found:

  • Tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease affecting children in the United States and is on the rise, but it is largely preventable.
  • By age 5, about 60% of children will be affected by tooth decay.
  • Children with oral health problems are three times more likely to miss school due to dental pain than those without oral health problems.
  • Delaying dental care to age 2 or 3 can have a negative impact on children’s oral health. 
  • Among the parents and caregivers surveyed, 40% said they would wait to schedule their children’s first visit until after 2 years old.

DYK: Untreated tooth decay can negatively affect a child’s physical and social development, and school performance.

For National Children’s Dental Health Month, educators and families can help spread the word about the benefits of a healthy smile. During this month-long national observance, celebrate by hosting various events and educational activities at school and programs promoting children’s healthy oral habits.

An Oral Health Lesson at School or Program

Teach children the importance of a healthy smile. Partner with dental care organizations, professionals or students who can answer common questions, such as preventing tooth decay or protecting children’s teeth during sporting events. (The bonus: many pediatric or family dentists will bring free toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss for demonstrations.) Other NCDHM recommended activities include:

  • Host dental screenings at the school or program.
  • Create an oral health bulletin board.
  • Watch videos that teach children how to brush and floss.
  • Read books about oral health.
  • Download the free 2023 NCDHM flier or poster to display in the classroom (available in English and Spanish).
  • Print and share fun activity sheets (available in English and Spanish).

Oral Health Fun at Home

Make dental health fun at home for children.

  • Watch videos that teach children how to brush and floss.
  • Read books about oral health.
  • Purchase toothbrushes with popular characters.
  • Practice brushing techniques.
  • Start a family brushing routine.
  • Schedule a dental visit.

Visit ada.org for the 2023 NCDHM recommended activities and planning guide.

2023 NCDHM Poster

The 2023 NCDHM poster is brought to you by the American Dental Association. Download the “official” National Children’s Dental Health Month Poster.

“On a personal level, I love to smile with my teeth [and] I think smiling with your teeth is beautiful,” Nicole Lesny, the Columbia College student who designed the 2023 NCDHM poster, said in a press release. “Everyone has a right to get access to clean and healthy teeth, empowering them with their smile.”

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