Dental Care Education
Dental Health IQ and How it Affects Your Children
August 17, 2018 by Sandra Holifield, Oral Health Outreach Manager
Having been in the dental field providing screenings and care for over 13 years, I have been able to see the trend of a caregiver’s (parent or grandparent, etc) dental health IQ and dental decay. Here are some of the findings:
While these points may be known to some parents, they are not known to all. I have heard several excuses for children having health problems, anything from “He will cry if I don’t give it to him” referring to candy or a bottle at night, to “well, it didn’t hurt me as a child”. These thought processes can be very damaging to your children.
So what can you do? Stand up and make a change. Your children are important to you; make the necessary changes in their lives, if not your own, that will provide them with the education and environment that will cause change.
The numbers don’t lie. Over the past year, I have personally been working with several school districts providing dental screenings and collecting data. The average rate of dental needs (one or more areas of possible cavities) hovers around 30-35%. This is alarming! Every third child that was screened has suspected dental decay or other dental related problems!
Why is this an issue? Primary teeth, or baby teeth, have several very important jobs. They do fall out and are replaced by adult teeth, so why even bother fixing them or putting the effort in to preserve them? The simple fact is, children need their baby teeth!
These teeth hold the place for adult teeth to erupt; they help guide the adult tooth into the proper place. They have nerves and can cause life threatening abscesses just like adult teeth. Children with dental issues can run fevers, suffer from infections, and lose attention in school due to pain.
Even today, the value placed on body health far outweighs the value of dental health. The stigma that you can live without teeth is rampant. The mouth is most definitely part of your body! There have been several links discovered with oral health and medical issues such as:
Arteriosclerosis-- Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 2003; 23:1245
Heart Disease--Journal of Periodontology, Dec. 2007; 78(12)2289-302
Preterm labor in pregnant women
Preeclampsia in pregnant women
You obviously want to protect your children from these health issues, and it could be as simple as taking them to a dentist on a regular basis and maintaining their dental health at home through routine home care. Children should see a dentist before the age of one…many general dentists will not see a child until the age of three or four, but this does NOT mean that they should not be seen by a dental professional. If this dentist does not see infants, then find a dentist that will. I have personally discovered two-year-olds and younger with rampant decay and abscessed teeth!
Here are some helpful hints to helping your child maintain their dental health, and help protect their overall health in the future.
As more and more research is conducted, the evidence points to the link between dental and overall health. If you become proactive in your child’s dental care, you may be saving them the heartache of major medical issues in the future. You love your children, no doubt about that. Sometimes it is hard to know or follow through with the right care. Fight the fight and pick your battles with your children, but do not let the important things fall through the cracks! Dental health care is definitely one of these important battles.
As a registered dental hygienist, I perform dental screenings for the WIC program in the St. Genevieve Health Department on Mondays, and can provide free dental screenings to your children. We also have other dental hygienists available at the Hillsboro WIC office in Jefferson County. Please call COMTREA at 636-232-2334, for more information.