National Children’s Dental Health Month observances began with a one-day event in Cleveland and a one-week celebration in Akron, Ohio, in February 1941.
Since then, the concept has snowballed into a nationwide program, bringing together thousands of dedicated professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.
The theme this year is “Healthy Habits for Healthy Smiles!”
The ADA held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on Feb. 8, 1949. The one-day event became a weeklong event in 1955, and in 1981 the program was extended to a monthlong celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month.
“I am passionate about increasing access and advocating for improving the oral health of all Americans, and I believe there's no better or easier place to start than with improving the oral health for our nation's children,” said Elizabeth Simpson, D.M.D., chair of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention. “When we can get all children to the dentist, create positive experiences at the dental office for them and start then early with prevention and oral health education, it's fair to hope that those patterns started in childhood can last a lifetime. I hope that people will find a way in whatever practice modality they practice to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month.”
The NCDHM Program Planning Guide provides program coordinators, dental societies, teachers and parents with resources to promote the benefits of good oral health to children. The guide includes easy-to-do activities, program planning timetable tips, a sample NCDHM proclamation and more.
The planning guide is an accompaniment to the annual postcard and poster program run by the ADA. This year, the Association received orders for 151,010 posters and postcards, which exceeds last year’s total amount of 115,000.
“Whether you hold a Give Kids A Smile event or volunteer in an elementary school and teach children about the dental profession and oral health, no action is too small, and all actions are needed as pieces of the puzzle to improve oral health outcomes for our children,” Dr. Simpson said.
Give Kids A Smile, which traditionally kick offs each February, is the signature access-to-care program of the ADA Foundation. Each year, about 65,500 dentists and 20,000 dental team members volunteer at local Give Kids A Smile events across the country to provide free oral health education, screenings, preventive, and restorative treatment to about 300,000 children.More than 7 million underserved children have received free oral health services since its inception more than two decades ago.
To learn more about Give Kids A Smile visit adafoundation.org/GKAS.