It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month (#NCDHM) and Traverse Health Clinic is celebrating in a fun way. On February 22, 2014, the Michigan Health Center serving Grand Traverse, Benzie, and Leelanau counties is hosting Matinee Dental Day at the State Theatre in Traverse City. Dental assistants from Northwestern Michigan College will perform a dental-themed skit to teach kids about the importance of dental health, to be followed by a showing of “Rise of the Guardians” and the distribution of free dental care kits. Kids get all this for the admission price of just 25 cents, the same price the State Theatre charged when it opened in 1916 and which Rene Louchart, RDH, dental health coordinator at Traverse Health Clinic says some children pay in pennies.
“We have hosted Matinee Dental Days for several years, both in February for National Children’s Dental Health Month and in October for National Dental Hygiene Month,” said Louchart. “It’s always a fun time, and great way to teach children and parents how to prevent cavities, maintain healthy gums, and build good dental habits to last a lifetime.”
The annual observance of children’s dental health began as a one-day event in 1941, and the American Dental Association (ADA) held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day in 1949. The ADA extended the one-day event to a week-long celebration in 1955, and then to a month of awareness events known as today’s National Children’s Dental Health Month.
Statistics show that increasing awareness of healthy habits—including visiting a dentist by the age of 1—continues to be critical. According to the Children’s Dental Health Project, 44% of U.S. children will have at least one cavity by kindergarten, and kids with cavities in baby teeth are three times more likely to develop cavities in their adult teeth. What’s more, millions of kids are eligible for dental coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but are not enrolled. Events like Traverse Health Clinic’s Matinee Dental Days are helping to increase awareness and connect kids to care and coverage.
Individuals and families that don’t have a regular dentist can find a Michigan Health Center near them by using the Find a Health Center look-up at www.mpca.net. Michigan Health Centers provide comprehensive, quality, affordable primary and preventive care regardless of insurance status and fees are based on household income, and they are located in 230 different sites across the state.