The health and well-being of children is one of the few issues a majority of Americans readily support without much argument.
However, studies show that one crucial area where we are failing our children remains the dental health care.
Minor as it may sound in the grand scheme, poor oral health care among children is a growing epidemic that not only affects their teeth, but also their intellectual and social development, and overall health. According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), tooth decay in young children can lead to malnutrition, life-threatening infections, poor school performance, and reluctance to speak, smile and play !!!!
By the age of five, about 60 percent of U.S. children will have tooth decay. Despite the AAPD’s recommendation that all children have their first dental exam no later than their first birthday, the reality is that only one in four parents surveyed actually took their children for a dental visit in the first year.
The reasons behind this void in important children’s health care are varied. Lack of education certainly plays a role. Research indicates that parents — particularly in low-income families — fail to understand the importance of oral health in children and how diet and brushing contributes to it. Lack of insurance coverage for children’s dental care is also notable.
This month, National Children’s Dental Health Month, provides a timely opportunity to reflect on where we can continue to make improvements for the sake of all our children:
1. Provide affordable options to parents who recognize that oral health is a vital component of a child’s overall health.
2. Provide care to children with little insurance, who might otherwise not have access to dental care.
3. Welcome children and families in need of dental care
4. Partner with communities and educators to increase awareness about health dental habits and maintaining good oral health care for life.
Our nation’s long-standing commitment to the health of our children is an ongoing effort, and one that must never fade from our attention. I hope that this month – and year round – dental providers, policymakers, parents and the public can encourage and support improvements that ensure our children’s healthy, happy smiles for generations to come.
Thank you Paul O. Walker, DDS, for this great information.
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