02012024- Say Cheese! Keeping Little Smiles Healthy!

Public Health News
Have you ever stopped to think about the role teeth play in a child’s health and development?

Tooth decay can start as soon as a baby’s first tooth appears. Untreated cavities/tooth decay can lead to other dental problems, including infection which can be very dangerous for your child. Cavities in baby teeth can also start to impact the underlying permanent teeth.

For school-aged children, 80-90% of tooth decay occurs on the chewing surfaces of the molar (back) teeth. Dental sealants and fluoride varnish can protect the teeth and prevent decay from starting. Placing dental sealants (thin protective coating) on the molar teeth greatly lowers the chance that those teeth will get tooth decay. Fluoride varnish strengthens the teeth, is safe for all ages, and can be easily applied 3-4 times per year. This saves time and money and saves the child from experiencing tooth pain.

Here are some guidelines for keeping little mouths healthy:

•  Children should see a dentist by age one.

•  Help children aged 7 and under brush their teeth. Use a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste for children under the age of 3, and a “pea” size

   amount for ages 3 and up.

•  Model tooth brushing twice a day.

• Choose snacks and drinks with low or no sugar.    

•  Everyone should get their teeth checked and cleaned every 6 months.

The I-Smile & I-Smile @School programs visit schools and other settings providing free dental screenings, fluoride, dental sealants, and oral health education for children infant through 6th grade. With consent from the parent or guardian, services are provided in the school or childcare setting to ease the barrier of transportation. If follow- up is needed, the I-Smile staff can help with finding dental care.

If cost is an issue for dental care, families can apply for Iowa Medicaid or the Hawki program. Hawki also offers a dental only option for families who have medical insurance, but no dental coverage.

Additionally, Black Hawk County Public Health is partnering with Kimball & Beecher Family Dentistry to offer Give Kids a Smile Day in the Cedar Valley. This event offers FREE preventive services and treatment for children ages 1-13 regardless of income or insurance. See the ad on this page for information on scheduling an appointment. For questions about the I-Smile Program go to or call (319) 292-2247.