Dental caries (cavities) is the most common chronic childhood disease – five times more common than asthma. Half of Sonoma County children have cavities. Poor oral health leads to difficulty in chewing food resulting in poor nutrition and pain that affects a child’s ability to grow, learn and attend school. Left untreated, dental caries can also lead to serious infections and even threaten lives.
Dental disease is easily preventable. The most effective prevention measures begin early in life. They include:
- Baby teeth are important
- First dental visit by age 1 or when the first tooth appears
- Fluoride prevents cavities. Help your child brush with fluoride toothpaste 2 times per day
- Germs causes cavities. Don’t share things you have put in your mouth (toothbrush, spoon, cup, etc.)
- Brush more – Snack less. Avoid soda, juice, candy, and other sweet foods
- Do not put your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup of milk or juice, only water
WIC is a federal supplemental nutrition program that supports pregnant women and children up to age five. Dental Days at WIC, a Community Action Partnership program, began in February of 2010 and has provided 10,000+ preventive dental visits to families in Sonoma County. An important feature of this preventive program is that the dental providers come to WIC, a familiar setting to families, which builds on the existing trust families with small children have already developed with their WIC program. Dental Days provides services to parents and children in conjunction with their regularly scheduled WIC appointments. During the visit, parents receive classroom education and one-on-one individual instruction on how to care for their children’s teeth. Children receive an oral assessment by a Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP), fluoride varnish application, and referrals to dentists for needed treatment.