This past Wednesday, I was invited by Gennette Robinson, MSDH/Oral Health Division, to a learning lunch hosted by the Tombigbee Regional Chapter of MOHCA, the Mississippi Oral Health Community Alliance. Their mission is:
- offer a comprehensive approach to improve the oral health status for Mississippians by serving as an advocate for optimal oral health
- mobilize community partnerships between and among policy makers, state agencies, professionals, organizations, the public and other groups that are interested in improving oral health
- develop plans and policies that improve oral health through a collaborative process; and
- establish an oral health services infrastructure that assures the protection, promotion and provision of oral health care for all Mississippians.
The guest speaker at the lunch was Dr. Mary Huxford, a Pediatric Dentist. I really enjoyed hearing her speak and I learned a lot about children’s oral hygiene.
For example, in Body Walk, we teach children they should brush twice a day and floss. Our age group is K-5th grade. I learned that if our younger visitors, Kindergarten for example, are not able to tie their shoes yet, then their parents should still be helping them brush their teeth. This reason for this is shoe-tying is a fine motor skill. If a child has not mastered this skill, than he or she does not have the fine motor control to properly brush their teeth.
I also learned many reasons why young children might develop cavities. They are drinking to many sugar sweetened drinks, or too much juice. Even 100% fruit juice has fruit sugars in it. The recommenced daily amount for children who are still taking a bottle or sippy cup is 4 oz. Young children don’t brush and floss enough or properly. Parents should start wiping children’s teeth as soon as they have teeth. A finger wrapped in a washcloth can be used to wipe out a child’s mouth. Another reason very young children might have cavities that become big problems is children don’t see the dentist early enough. Children as young as one should see a dentist.
MOCHA is promoting a Healthy Smile Campaign. 2×2=A Healthy Smile. They want everyone to brush two times a day for two minutes each time. This is a great message and one that fits in well with the lessons in the mouth station of the Body Walk. The script for Body Walk has children practice tooth brushing by using giant toothbrushes to brush teeth stools. They practice flossing by flossing between the teeth stools. The volunteer reading the script guides them in those activities and tells the children how often to brush and how to brush. The mouth station also has a prop called Mr. Gross Mouth so the children can see what happens when they never brush their teeth. Our goal is to get children to start (or continue) the healthy habit of brushing and flossing.
Going to the meeting was very educational. I am happy to work with others to expand our message and create healthier lives for Mississippi’s children.
Next up, A BIGGER SURPRISE.