Oral health is essential to general health and well-being, and it’s never too early to start! Did you know…
Tooth decay can develop as soon as the first tooth comes in, and cavities (resources also available in Spanish and Tagalog) are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States.
A child’s chance of getting cavities can be higher if they eat and drink a lot of sugary foods and drinks, like soda, especially between meals.
The American Dental Association recommends drinking plenty of water and eating a variety of foods, including:
- Whole grains*
- Fruits and vegetables*
- Lean protein sources, such as lean beef, skinless poultry, and fish (including canned*),
- Dry beans, peas, and other legumes*
- Low-fat and fat-free dairy products*
(*foods in the WIC food packages!)
What’s more, oral health can be considered an important part of prenatal care, given that poor oral health during pregnancy can lead to poor health outcomes for the mother and baby.
To help your participants maintain good oral health, you can take advantage of National Dental Hygiene Month, celebrated in October, to emphasize the importance of good dental hygiene.
Through their Oral Health Initiative, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides a number of free resources to help educate expectant mothers and parents of young children in their Outreach Tool Library, also available in Spanish, such as:
- See a Dentist While You're Pregnant tear pads
- Good Dental Habits for Children Under Age 3 available as a poster and flyer (both available in Spanish)
- Digital tools, such as social media messages and images and web banners, buttons, email signatures, and widgets for those with a digital presence
- Dental Care for Children with Special Needs fact sheets
Digital videos (some in Spanish) and information about customizing print materials with your WIC program’s contact information are available in the Social Media Messages section on their Improving Oral Health page.
The Oral Health section on the American Academy of Pediatrics' website, available in Spanish, provides resources on a number of topics, such as:
- The causes and prevention of baby bottle tooth decay
- Causes, signs, and prevention of Bottlemouth Syndrome
- Healthy Teeth and Your Child's Diet
- Practical suggestions to help make brushing more fun and a matter of routine
- Why Regular Dental Visits Are Important
- …and much more!
You can help refer participants in need of dental services using:
- A Dentist Locator from CMS
- A Dental Clinic Locator from the Indian Health Services
Find more resources related to oral health on the WIC Works Resource System, such as the collection page Oral Health in Infants, Children and Pregnant Women, a link to free NIH publications, and Open Wide: Oral Health Training for Professionals.