It’s not well known, but February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDH), a month dedicated to promoting and raising awareness about oral health for children. The effects of early childhood dental health have been shown to decrease the risk of disease in later years of life. Poor dental habits exhibited in early childhood often continue into adulthood, with potential to affect speech, nutrition, economic productivity, and even the overall quality of life. Therefore, good oral health must start in the early years of our youngster’s lives. This action is easier said than done, with access to oral health care facilities becoming an increasingly difficult problem for many lower-income families throughout the country; people who do not have dental insurance are suffering from the repercussion.
The main cause of this problem is the lack of options, for example: look at all the places you have to access medical care compared to dental care. Unlike medical care, dental care is generally provided with only one or two dentists with limited capacity. This limited capacity means dentist can’t compensate for low medicaid fees or missed appointments. With nearly 93% of the nation’s dentists in private practice, and 70% in solo practice, poor access to oral health care has been a persistent problem that state regulation has failed to address for decades.
According to a study conducted by an American Dental Association, the four most common dental procedures rendered for children were: periodic oral evaluation, bitewing radiographs, prophylaxis, and fluoride treatments. These types of basic oral care services are typically available in pediatricians’ and family physicians’ offices, along with anticipatory guidance from your caregiver. By seeking out dental care through this other option it’s an opportunity for all families to improve overall oral health, prevent dental disease, increase awareness, and support preventative future services for young children.
With millions of children affected by dental disease because of lack of oral health care, education services are needed in our society to teach families how to attain dental care for their families. The consequences of poor oral hygiene for young children could lead to chronic pain, missed school days, poor nutrition, and poor self-esteem throughout life. By providing awareness with an oral health promotion program we can significantly reduce the amount of children with unhealthy dental hygiene throughout America.