paint a smile

As you may know, the Saskatoon Public Health Services Oral Health Program offers Paint-A-Smile fluoride varnish drop-in clinics to infants and preschoolers at no charge.  After a short downturn in services due to the ramped up H1N1 immunization schedule, the Paint-A-Smile program is up and running again.

According to the Health Region, a baby's teeth can start to decay from the first day they appear in the mouth.  As a parent, this was especially concerning to me because my son started sprouting teeth at four months and has added one or two each month since. (He currently has 13 teeth at 13 months, with two more starting to show!)

New teeth don't have strong enamel when they first come in, but fluoride can strengthen the enamel. The latest studies show that the use of fluoride varnish is the best way to prevent or stop tooth decay in infants and young children.

I took my son in for varnishing after his eighth tooth came in at around eight months (as you can see here on the right). I'm thinking it is time to go again to protect his five other new little teeth. I was told there is no limit to how many times a child gets the fluoride varnish, but you may want to consult a dental professional about how many times it needs to be painted on your child's teeth.

The varnishing process is quick and painless. You hold your baby as the oral health professional quickly paints the fluoride on with a little brush. It dries instantly, and you're sent on your way with a new toothbrush and some dental information, including a cute storybook about Charlie Chew and his friend Gary Gopher.

You may have heard concerns about ingesting fluoride because it can cause streaks in permanent teeth. (That's why it is not advised to use fluoride toothpaste with infants who can't spit it out.) You don't have to worry about that with the fluoride varnish because it dries as soon as it is painted on.

Of course, fluoride varnishing does not take the place of daily brushing, twice a day. Plaque, which grows on the teeth and gums every day, uses sugar in food to make the acids that cause cavities and weaken the gums. So, it is important to clean those little pearly whites from day one, no matter how much they fuss. (And, yes, my little guy puts up a huge fuss twice a day, every day!)

Following are the locations, days and times for fluoride varnishing drop-in clinics around the city. You may want to call the Public Health Services Oral Health Program at 655-4462 to confirm before you go.

Mayfair Child Health Clinic:
every Monday
1 pm. - 3:15 p.m.
Mayfair United Church
902-33rd Street West, Saskatoon

North Health Centre:
2nd Tuesday of each month
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
100-227 Primrose Drive North, Saskatoon

Pleasant Hill Health Clinic:
every Monday
1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
216 Avenue S South, Saskatoon

Riversdale Child Health Clinic:
every Wednesday
1 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Basement of St. Thomas Wesley United Church
20th Street & Avenue H, Saskatoon

South East Health Centre:
3rd Tuesday of each month
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
3006 Taylor Street East, Saskatoon

West Winds Primary Health Centre:
1st Wednesday of each month
9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
3311 Fairlight Drive West, Saskatoon

W.P. Bate Child Health Clinic:
2nd and 3rd Thursday of each month
1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
2515 - 18th Street West, Saskatoon

Humboldt Public Health Office:
1st Friday of each month
9:30 a.m. - noon
231 Main Street, Humboldt




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