Indian Health Service honoring National Children’s Dental Health Month

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The Indian Health Service is presenting a four-part series of messages focused on their younger patients’ oral heath in honor of the February observance of National Children’s Dental Health Month.

The first part of the series focuses on the dangers of tobacco use and e-cigarettes.

“We have heard many messages about the dangers of tobacco use,” said Dr. Timothy L. Ricks, deputy director of the Indian Health Service’s Division of Oral Health. “The good news is that tobacco use is down compared to the 1960s. However, in recent years e-cigarettes and vaping have grown in popularity, especially among teenagers. Since e-cigarettes emerged on the market, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified over 2,700 people in the U.S. that have been hospitalized or have died with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury.”

The Indian Health Service is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive health service delivery system for around 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The other three parts of the series focus on educating teens on the risks of opioid misuse, promoting HPV vaccinations and the dangers of oral piercings.

The brief presentations are designed to educate IHS patients, tribal communities and IHS colleagues about the importance of oral health. IHS dentists are encouraged to show the presentations in their waiting rooms, present them at community gatherings, develop fact sheets, print the slides and show them during one-on-one counseling with patients or use them along with other resources to develop newspaper articles or public service announcements.

The IHS website also contains information on tobacco prevention and the benefits of not smoking. Patients may also call the National Quit Hotline for support at 1-800-Quit-Now. The website also contains information on other health topics.

The ADA has developed resources to help celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month, available at