For a short month, February packs a wallop. We commemorate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, black history and love. In leap years, women propose marriage and we elect our president. Groundhog shadows determine winter’s length. And, as nonprofit life has taught me, February includes recognition of dental care and teen dating violence.
You probably don’t think much about the connection between dental care and substance use and abuse with the obvious exceptions of yellowed smokers’ teeth and “meth mouth” characterized by numerous cavities, decay and missing teeth. But did you know that a study found that “exposure to secondhand smoke as an infant as young as 4 months is associated with increased risk of tooth decay at age 3, according to Medical News Today.” Tooth pain keeps many children home from school or distracted from learning. Research shows having an infection in your mouth could lead to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and pregnancy complications. There is a relationship between mental illnesses, diets and poor oral health, too. Anorexics and bulimics suffer enamel erosion. Children should see the dentist when they turn 1 so they can practice good oral hygiene throughout their lives. Happy mouth, happy life.
By Congressional Act, February is Teen Dating Violence (DV) Prevention & Awareness Month. Teen dating violence runs across race, gender and socioeconomic lines. Both males and females are victims, but boys and girls are abusive in different ways. Girls are more likely to yell, threaten to hurt themselves, pinch, slap, scratch, or kick. Boys injure girls more severely and frequently (National Center for Victims of Crime). Cellphones are used to control and monitor contact with other friends and family members. Abusers use drugs and alcohol to coerce bad behavior and absolve themselves of responsibility. Victims use them to accept blame and/or to cope. This simplistic overview to a complex problem is presented to start your family’s conversation about healthy dating relationships.
Your kids, and some of their pals, need your guidance. For help with their teeth or their personal lives, please visit our website’s Resource Guide, your school’s counselor, or GUSD’s Healthy Start Office.