February is National Children's Dental Health Month | Eastern North Carolina Now

Press Release:

    RALEIGH     February is National Children's Dental Health Month, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is emphasizing the importance of children's dental hygiene to overall health and well-being. Currently in North Carolina, nearly one in five kindergartners have untreated tooth decay, which can have long-term health impacts such as chronic disease.

    "Good oral health in childhood is a critical component to overall health and well-being," said Dr. Kelly Kimple, Senior Medical Director for Health Promotion, NCDHHS Division of Public Health. "By supporting proper dental care for our young ones, we can prevent lasting impacts to help them lead healthier lifestyles in the future."

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    Recent data shows there is an urgent need for attention to children's oral health in North Carolina, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The rate of untreated dental decay (cavities) among kindergartners is the highest observed in five years, indicating a concerning trend in oral health.
  • Disparities in oral health still exist, primarily affecting racially and ethnically marginalized populations.
  • Rates of treated decay and no decay experience are at their lowest, underscoring the need for proactive measures to reverse these trends.

    Dental decay, the most common chronic childhood disease, is largely preventable through routine dental care and healthy habits. However, access to care remains a primary barrier, particularly for low-income individuals and families.

    It is our responsibility to address these disparities and ensure all children have access to quality dental care, regardless of their background, said Dr. Susan Kansagra, NCDHHS Assistant Secretary for Public Health. "Our recent expansion of Medicaid has helped expand access to oral health care for thousands of our fellow North Carolinians across the state."

    Qualified individuals and families can find Safety Net Dental Clinics in most of North Carolina's 100 counties. Parents and caregivers can also find NC Medicaid enrolled dentists for their child online at www.insurekidsnow.gov.

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    NCDHHS also encourages parents and caregivers to take action to improve the oral health of our children by using the following tips:

  • Schedule regular dental check-ups for your child, starting at age one. Early detection and prevention are key to maintaining good oral health.
  • Brush your child's teeth twice a day with the correct amount of fluoride toothpaste. Floss your child's teeth as recommended by your child's dentist. Eat a balanced diet while limiting sugary snacks and beverages. Sugar is a significant contributor to dental decay.
  • Ask your child's health care team about the use of fluoride varnish and dental sealants to protect your child's teeth from decay.
  • Be a role model for your child's oral health by maintaining your own dental hygiene routines.

    For more information, visit the NCDHHS Division of Public Health, Oral Health webpage at www.dph.ncdhhs.gov/programs/oral-health. Find dental care providers near you and additional oral health resources at www.dph.ncdhhs.gov/programs/oral-health/services-individuals-and-families.


  • NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • 2001 Mail Service Center
  • Raleigh, NC 27699-2001
  • Ph: (919) 855-4840
  • news@dhhs.nc.gov

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