From Central Michigan District Health Department

REED CITY — Central Michigan District Health Department, in conjunction with My Community Dental Centers and local dentists, reminds residents to give children a smile that lasts a lifetime.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which brings an increased focus on the importance of regular dental check-ups and a balanced diet. The theme of this year’s campaign “Choose Water for a Sparkling Smile” urges children to choose water, when possible, to quench their thirst and avoid drinks with added sugar like soda and sweetened juices. Officials urge brushing, flossing, rinsing and eating healthy snacks helps maintain good oral health.

“Children’s teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and a healthy smile is important to a child’s self-esteem,” said Steve Hall, CMDHD health officer. “Good health habits should begin with an introductory visit to the dentist after their first tooth erupts or before your child’s first birthday. This will help to make sure your child has a sparkling smile. A balanced diet, limited snacks, daily brushing and flossing and regular check-ups are the keys to healthy teeth and gums.”

Officials add bottles and pacifiers also impact a child’s oral health.

Here are some tips from the American Dental Association to keep a young child’s mouth healthy:

  • Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
  • Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed.
  • If a child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean — don’t dip it in sugar or honey, or put it in your mouth before giving it to the child.
  • Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday and discourage frequent or prolonged use of sippy cups.
  • Serve nutritious snacks and limit sweets to mealtimes.

Older children should follow the same rules of regular brushing, flossing, dental visits, eating a balanced diet and choosing water instead of surgery beverages like juice and soft drinks. Sugars and starches encourage the production of plaque which can attack tooth enamel. Also, it’s not just the sugar in soft drinks that decays teeth; it’s the acid too, making this double trouble.

My Community Dental Centers serves people enrolled in Medicaid, including Healthy Kids and MiChild, the Healthy Michigan Plan, low-income uninsured and also persons with private insurance.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (877) 313-6232. Visit mydental. org/find-mcdc-locations/ to find a MCDC location near you.

My Community Dental Centers in the central Michigan service area are located in Big Rapids, Harrison, Mount Pleasant and Roscommon. The Big Rapids location is 14435 Northland Drive, Big Rapids.