You Should Know: Mouth Monsters by Chelsea Knorr, Editor, Dentaltown Magazine

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by Chelsea Knorr, Editor, Dentaltown Magazine

Dentaltown Magazine spoke with Dr. Warren A. Brill, past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), to learn more about the Monster-Free Mouths Movement, a new educational campaign that addresses the nationwide threat to children's oral health. Here we meet Tartar the Terrible, Tooth D.K. and Ginger Bite-Us.

What are the Mouth Monsters?
Brill: In late January, the AAPD announced its first-ever "State of Little Teeth Report," which underscored the significant threat that tooth decay has to the health, welfare and future of children in the U.S. And while studies show that delaying the first dental exam until the age of two or three can have an adverse impact on a child's oral health. The "State of Little Teeth Report" reveals that 40 percent of parents and caregivers surveyed wait to take their child to the dentist until after age two. To address this nation-wide threat to children's health, the AAPD launched the Monster-Free Mouths Movement, an educational campaign to arm parents and caregivers with important tools and information to help fight tooth decay, also known as the Mouth Monsters.

How do these monsters tie into AAPD and to MyChildrensTeeth.org?
Brill: Parents and caregivers can go to MyChild rensTeeth.org to find tips and tools to teach their children about their teeth in a fun way, including the whimsical Mouth Monsters characters—Tartar the Terrible, Tooth D.K. and Ginger Bite-Us. The site also provides educational resources and guidance geared to help parents and caregivers better understand the importance of children's oral health, as well as a pediatric dentist finder tool to locate a nearby primary dental care provider for their child.

Where did this idea come from?
Brill: This idea resonated from Weber Shandwick, our new public relations firm. In collaboration with them, we announced an exciting new rebranding campaign that accentuates the importance of pediatric dentistry and distinguishes our members as the experts on children's oral health. The new brand identity was the start of a consumer-focused effort to include a broad awareness campaign that kicked off on January 28, 2014.

You are in an elevator. A man asks what your organization does. You have 15 seconds before the door opens. What do you say?
Brill: The AAPD is a not-for-profit professional membership association of 9,300 representing the specialty of pediatric dentistry. Our members provide primary care and comprehensive dental specialty treatments for infants, children, adolescents and individuals with special health-care needs. We educate and inform policymakers, parents and guardians, and other health-care professionals, and provide continuing professional education for pediatric dentists and general dentists who treat children.

What is the philosophy surrounding MyChildrensTeeth.org?
Brill: A comprehensive resource for parents and caregivers, MyChildrensTeeth.org gathers together all of the AAPD's articles and information that are useful to the general public in one convenient place. The AAPD launched the new site in order to meet the growing need for high quality, evidence-based dental information that gives the most up-to-date information on children's oral health directly to consumers. This site informs parents and caregivers and empowers them to start making informed choices for their children as soon as possible, all driven by the best dental science and practices available.

How can a practice integrate Mouth Monsters or tell their patients about them?
Brill: With the help of the AAPD, your practice and the lay public can join the Monster-Free Mouths Movement and keep your child's mouth free of creatures like Ginger Bite-Us, Tartar the Terrible and Tooth D.K. Tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease among children in the U.S., so learn more about this terrifying trio and find out how to banish your child's mouth monsters for good at www.mychildrensteeth.org/mouth_monsters/. Help your kids keep the monsters out of their mouths with our handy posters, fact sheets and other fun stuff. To download the complete Mouth Monster Defense Kit, please visit: www.mychildrensteeth.org/assets/2/7/AAPDMouthMonstersCompleteKit.pdf.

What is your advice to parents dealing with uncooperative children when it comes to tooth brushing?
Brill: Parents should make tooth brushing and flossing a routine part of their day, helping their children in the morning and evening. For those children who may not be as cooperative as they would like, devise games and reward systems that the children will enjoy. Also, if they have a favorite television or cartoon character, use a toothbrush with that character on the handle and tell the children that the character is helping get their teeth clean and healthy.

Image courtesy of the The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

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