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Everyone is all smiles after a fluoride varnish treatment at the MCHD WIC clinic. Pictured from left: Annette Doren, MCHD Health Educator; Kali and Seth David of Gwinn, and Rebecca Maino, RDH, MCHD Health Educator. (Courtesy picture)

MARQUETTE — Did you know that the average person produces one liter of saliva a day? According to the Delta Dental Foundation, that’s 10,000 gallons of saliva over a lifetime.

Saliva is necessary for good oral health because it washes food from the teeth, neutralizes acids in the mouth, fights germs and prevents bad breath. However, people need more than saliva to keep their mouths healthy. Every day, your mouth is home to over 100,000,000 micro creatures that swim, feed, breed, and deposit waste in your mouth. If this makes you want to brush your teeth, read on.

National Children’s Dental Health Month February 2019 is brought to you by the American Dental Association. This month-long National Health Observance brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others. The slogan for this year’s NCDHM campaign is “Brush and clean in between to create a healthy smile.”

A healthy smile and good oral health rely on good prevention strategies. Early and regular dental care, the use of fluoride, and good daily dental habits, such as brushing and flossing, can maintain a healthy smile for life and cost much less than treating dental disease.

That’s why the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children begin seeing a dentist when the first tooth erupts and no later than 12 months of age. According to the AAPD, research shows that dental costs for children who have their first visit to the dentist at age one or younger are 40% lower in the first five years of life than those children who do not see a dentist until their first birthday.

Jerry Messana, health officer for the Marquette County Health Department, notes: “A child’s first visit to the dentist can and should be a pleasant adventure. Tell your child that the dentist is a friendly dentist who will help keep their teeth healthy. Speak to your child in an encouraging and positive way, as you would about any new experience. The better your attitude towards the dentist (even if you don’t like going to the dentist yourself), the better the first dental appointment will be.

Dental practices have changed and many are now working to ensure your child has a “Amusing” first visit at 1 year old. The dentist can get to know your child and introduce him to the dental chair, lamp, teeth counter, mouth mirror, “Mr. Thirsty Straw” and other dental instruments and equipment in a non-threatening manner. It’s a great way to start a lifelong preventive dentistry program.

Rebecca Maino, dental hygienist and health educator at MCHD, reminds parents that tooth decay is an infectious disease. “Most parents don’t realize that if they have a lot of tooth decay in their mouth, that means they also have a lot of germs living there. These germs or bacteria can be passed from a mother’s mouth ( or father) to her baby’s mouth when she shares a spoon to taste/test her baby’s food, licks pacifiers and drinks from the same cup. So one thing parents can do is to they want their children to have healthy teeth is to limit these practices and ensure that they take good care of their own teeth.

Starting dental visits at an early age helps prevent serious dental problems. And, with access to optimal fluoride through drinking water, fluoride supplements/varnishes/rinses, and toothpaste combined with good brushing and flossing, many children today may have little or no dental problems.

Taking care of your teeth and making oral health a priority in your home will teach your child to do the same. The MCHD reminds parents to schedule your children for early and regular dental appointments. If you are having trouble finding a dentist for your child or yourself, talk to your child’s doctor or call MCHD for help finding a dentist.

The UP Friendly Smile Fund is also available to Upper Peninsula adults without dental insurance and whose adjusted gross income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level for the patient’s family size.

Please call 1-877-313-6232 and mention the UP Friendly Smile Fund for financial assistance with initial exam, x-ray and treatment plan appointment. Visit or

— Marquette County Health Department

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