State Official Promotes Children’s Dental Health

STATE — February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is urging parents to ensure their children are polishing up on their tooth brushing skills, and maintaining good oral hygiene in order to have a lifelong healthy smile!

“Over 50 percent of children ages 5-9 have at least one cavity or filling,” said Dr. Poonam Alaigh, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. “We hope that by raising parental awareness of the importance of brushing we will reduce the incidences of cavities and improve oral health in children.”


Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases in children. It is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times as common as hay fever.

Here are some preventive measures:

  • Infants and young children can be especially vulnerable to tooth decay because tooth decay is an infectious disease. Avoid testing the temperature of your child’s bottle with the mouth, sharing utensils or cleaning a pacifier or bottle nipple with saliva.
  • Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle or prop the bottle up in the baby’s mouth. Hold your infant during feeding.
  • Clean your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth or piece of gauze wrapped around a finger and plain water after each feeding.
  • Parents are urged to take an active role in brushing their children’s teeth once the first tooth comes in usually when the child is between 6 and 10 months of age. Lift the lip to brush at the gum line and behind the teeth.
  • For children ages 2-6, parents should use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Parents should supervise their child’s tooth brushing until approximately ages 7-8.
  • Parents can talk to their dentist about specific needs the child may have and also speak to the dentist about applying dental sealants which are thin plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to prevent tooth decay.

“It’s never too early to instill in children the benefits of good oral hygiene. By building the proper foundation of dental care, parents can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles,” noted Alaigh.

The Department maintains a Children’s Oral Health Education program that provides oral health and hygiene education to school age children throughout the state. Working with school nurses and classroom teachers, the Department funds a voluntary school-based fluoride mouth rinse program and conducts a variety of age appropriate activities that emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene, healthy food choices, prevention of oral injury, tobacco cessation and oral cancer awareness.

“The Children’s Oral Health Program has a successful 30 year history of providing for the oral health and hygiene education needs of New Jersey’s school age children,” noted Alaigh.

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