Drinking warm milk before hitting the hay is a bedtime ritual for many children. The beverage known to induce sleep, however, is a menace to dental health, since its natural sugars cling to teeth, causing them to decay.
Milk’s ability to create cavities is just one of many facts doctors at the People’s Health Clinic plan on sharing during the next 28 days, since Park City Mayor Jack Thomas declared February Children’s Dental Health Month for the town.
Part of a national month-long observance, Dental Health Month, headed by the People’s Health Clinic, will include an all-day clinic at the nonprofit and workshops for second-graders at Park City’s elementary schools.
“We wanted to bring awareness to the importance of dental health for all of our Park City children,” said Aimee Armer, development director for the People’s Health Clinic.
The all-day dental clinic will be from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the People’s Health Clinic, located at 650 Round Valley Drive.
Two doctors will be there to provide dental exams and to offer dental education.
“You don’t have to make an appointment,” Armer said. “You can show up at any point during the clinic.”
Armer said employees and volunteers at the People’s Health Clinic will also hand out goodie bags to children who participate. Each bag will include a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash.
The People’s Health Clinic also teamed up with the Park City School District for the month.
One of its doctors will head to all of Park City’s elementary schools to hold workshops for the second-grade classes.
Armer said the workshops will include facts on how to properly brush teeth and advice on what beverages to stay away from.
“She will have an interactive exchange with the kids,” Armer said. “She will also give an explanation on how to brush teeth and a talk about what drinks have the most sugar.”
Students will also receive goodie bags.
Eric Esquivel, Latino community relations specialist for the school district who helped plan the workshops, said it’s important for the district to be involved in preventative health care, because it helps keep kids in the classroom during designated school hours.
“It isn’t good when students aren’t feeling well, especially with a toothache, which could be very excruciating if it goes untreated.” Esquivel said. “The prevention is crucial. If we have students who are sick or don’t feel well, they’re not focusing on school or they’re missing school.”
The proclamation the city council approved on Friday to declare Children’s Dental Health Month includes that dental-related illnesses cause children in the U.S. to miss 51 million hours of school each year.
Armer said it’s important to educate people about such facts, even in Park City.
“People sometimes think that everybody in Park City is well taken care of, but there is a big chunk of people in Park City that don’t have the education or access,” she said.
Armer said Park City does have a population of people who don’t have dental insurance or access to dental care. Part of the nonprofit’s mission is to provide health services to people who, otherwise, don’t have easy access to health care, she added.
“We want to make sure our kids of all ethnicities and nationalities understand the importance of brushing your teeth,” Armer said.
Parents who can’t take their children to the all-day clinic, or who have kids who are not second-graders, can also participate in the month by visiting the clinic’s website to learn dental care tips.
Armer offered other solutions as well.
“Outside of February, we will always offer dental health to adults and children,” Armer said. “Parents and children can always come here for help even if they can’t get here on the 21st of the month.”