Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Good oral care requires lifetime commitment

Military health personnel, sitting in front of a group of children, showing them how to brush their teeth using a stuffed animal Dentists from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Navy Medicine Professional Development Center’s Naval Postgraduate Dental School at WRNMMC, visited the Child Development Center in February 2020 to observe of National Children’s Dental Health Month (Photo by: Bernard Little, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center).

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Total Force Fitness

“The Primary Care Dentistry department has remained open for business during the COVID-19 pandemic, serving the urgent and emergent dental treatment needs of all DoD beneficiaries during normal business hours while prioritizing our in-person scheduled appointments on the readiness-related needs of the active duty population assigned to Naval Support Activity Bethesda and throughout the National Capital Region Market,” stated Navy Capt. (Dr.) Rasha Welch, director of Dental Services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Good dental hygiene requires a lifetime commitment, and National Children's Dental Health Month, observed during February, highlights that dedication should begin before a child first picks up a toothbrush.

Oral health during pregnancy and infancy is especially important to set little ones up for a lifetime of good health," states the American Academy of Pediatrics. Expectant mothers should eat healthy, brush their teeth and visit their dentist. This advice is included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom" regarding dental health.

The CDC "P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom" are:

  • Protect tiny teeth by caring for your mouth when you're pregnant.
  • Ensure to wipe your baby's gums after each meal.
  • Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle.
  • Remember to brush your child's teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste. For children younger than 2 years, consult with your dentist or doctor about when to start using fluoride toothpaste./p>
  • Limit drinks and food with added sugar for children. Encourage your child to eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer fruit drinks, cookies and candies.
  • Schedule your child's first dental visit by his or her 1st birthday or after their first tooth appears.

In addition, the CDC recommends including foods that are good sources of calcium in children's diets. These foods, including yogurt, broccoli and milk, help build strong teeth.

"Teaching your child about healthy eating habits is one of the best practices for a lifetime of good health," the CDC states.

  • Eat fruits and vegetables for snacks rather than candies and cookies.
  • Brush your child's teeth twice daily.
  • Serve water at mealtime rather than juice or soda.
  • Brush your child's teeth twice daily

People are also encouraged not to use products that can harm teeth, gums and other parts of the body, such as tobacco, which can cause oral cancer and other adverse conditions and diseases.

Despite changes brought on by COVID-19, people still need to visit their dentist on a regular basis for cleanings and exams for possible caries and other dental concerns. Caries, also known as cavities or tooth decay, are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood and even in adults, but they are preventable with proper oral care.

Dental health can also impact the readiness of service members. The Department of Defense classifies service members in one of four categories based on their oral health:

  • Class 1 -- a current dental examination has been completed and no additional dental treatment is needed for 12 months
  • Class 2 -- a current dental examination has been completed, but the member requires non-urgent dental treatment or reevaluation.
  • Class 3 -- a current dental examination as well, but requires urgent or emergent dental treatment.
  • Class 4 -- indicates the member is overdue for an annual dental examination.

Classes 1 and 2 are groups that most service members should fall under, meaning that they are deployable and their oral health shouldn't cause any issues. DoD requires 95 percent dental readiness for all military personnel.

a young boy practices brushing teeth on a stuffed animal
In addition to conducting oral exams, dentists from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Navy Medicine Professional Development Center’s Naval Postgraduate Dental School at WRNMMC offered the youth tips for a lifetime of healthy oral care, including eating right, brushing twice a day for at least two minutes, flossing and regularly visiting a dentist (Photo by: Bernard Little, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center).

The Primary Care Dentistry department has remained open for business during the COVID-19 pandemic, serving the urgent and emergent dental treatment needs of all DoD beneficiaries during normal business hours while prioritizing our in-person scheduled appointments on the readiness-related needs of the active duty population assigned to Naval Support Activity Bethesda and throughout the National Capital Region Market,” stated Navy Capt. (Dr.) Rasha Welch, director of Dental Services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Welch added WRNMMC’s two specialty clinics, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery and Hospital Dentistry, have been providing 24/7 emergency care for inpatient and outpatient beneficiaries. “They have leveraged virtual academic capabilities for their residents while also actively engaged in supporting our readiness mission and maintaining the safety and wellness of our patients in active treatment,” she explained.

In response to COVID-19, Welch said all patients and staff members feeling ill should stay home and reschedule appointments.

In addition to the screening that occurs as everyone enters the facility, our dental staff will be administering written screening questionnaires and taking every patient’s temperature prior to any encounter,” Welch added.

Welch and Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Jared Geller, WRNMMC’s Primary Care Department chief, explained they have modified work practices and the layout of clinical spaces, including the reception area, to allow for adequate social distancing. All visitors are required to wear cloth facemasks in the reception area and hand sanitizer is readily available.

Our staff is taking heightened personal protective equipment measures above and beyond our normally strict adherence to standard precautions,” Welch continued. “This includes the utilization of N95 respirators and face shields by all dental staff members during any aerosol-generating procedure. Finally, additional time are resources are being devoted to the proper cleaning and disinfection of all treatment areas between patients to mitigate any remote possibility of cross-contamination.

For more information about children's oral health, visit the CDC website.

You also may be interested in...

Young cancer survivor rings bell signifying treatment end

Article
4/16/2021
Sailor Parker writing her name on a wall sticker

Seven year old girl wins her battle against Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health

Do sports / energy drinks enhance individual performance?

Article
4/12/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing food options

While there are many energy sports drinks are available, their overall value varies.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Be proactive in looking for early signs of testicular cancer

Article
4/9/2021
Military health personnel giving and examination

While the diagnosis of cancer can be frightening, testicular cancer can usually be cured.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | Holiday Observances | April Toolkit

Children’s well-being contributes immeasurably to force readiness

Article
4/6/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask in the back of a truck

The Defense Health Agency joins in celebrating military children during Month of the Military Child, observed in April, and always.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | April Toolkit | Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Coronavirus | Month of the Military Child | Month of the Military Child Image Library

Month of the Military Child 2021

Video
4/5/2021
DHA Seal

The Defense Health Agency supports military children from around the world during Month of the Military Child 2021.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Month of the Military Child | Children's Health

Defense Health Agency celebrating the mighty military child in April

Article
4/2/2021
This April, the DHA will celebrate the mighty military child

On April 1, the DHA launched the “Celebrating the Mighty” global campaign.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Month of the Military Child | Children's Health | Month of the Military Child Image Library

The difference between Celiac Disease & Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Article
3/26/2021
Close up picture of slices of bread

Celiac disease is not a food allergy; it's an autoimmune disease diagnosed through a blood test.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

When we “Break Bread," we build social bonds

Article
3/25/2021
Picture of military personnel sitting at a table eating food together

Eating socially has been shown to influence happiness and life satisfaction; specifically participating in evening meals with more people.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

TFFcogs Financial 1200x675

Infographic
3/23/2021
Total Force Fitness for Kids social media graphic showing an orange military kids logo, a multi-colored Total Force Fitness logo, and a blue circle with a star and a dollar sign emanating from the center

Total Force Fitness for Kids social media graphic showing an orange military kids log, a multi-colored Total Force Fitness logo, and a blue circle with a star and a dollar sign emanating from the center

Recommended Content:

April Toolkit | Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Total Force Fitness | Financial Fitness

TFFcogs Nutritional 1200x675

Infographic
3/23/2021
Total Force Fitness for Kids social media graphic showing an orange military kids logo, a multi-colored Total Force Fitness logo, and a blue circle with a star in the center

Total Force Fitness for Kids social media graphic showing an orange military kids logo, a multi-colored Total Force Fitness logo, and a blue circle with a star in the center and plate with a fork and a knife emanating from the center

Recommended Content:

April Toolkit | Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Army dietitian uses nutritional care to fight COVID-19

Article
3/23/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask standing in front of a Nutrition Clinic

Army dietician plays a critical role in COVID-19 patient recovery.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

Decide + Be Ready: supporting today’s modern service woman

Article
3/23/2021
Picture of three different women with the words "decide and be ready mobile app"

New women’s app ‘Decide + Be Ready’, helps today’s service woman make proactive decisions regarding their contraceptive decisions.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

METC trains dietician techs to build, support a Medically Ready Force

Article
3/18/2021
Military health personnel preparing food trays while wearing a face mask

Nutrition plays an important role in military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Women’s health emerging priorities series highlights mental health

Article
3/4/2021
A woman holding her hands near her face

Women’s mental health can be more affected by transitioning than men’s, speakers’ series attendees hear.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Total Force Fitness | Depression | Psychological Fitness

Proper nutrition impacts overall health & readiness

Article
3/4/2021
Man wearing a face mask restocking fruit at a store

Nutritional fitness implications for Total Force Fitness are far reaching.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | March Toolkit | Holiday Observances
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 9

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.