February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is encouraging parents and caregivers to use protective measures and care for healthy teeth. Pediatric dentists say parents should make an appointment with the dentist before the child’s first tooth appears. In fact, 90% of dental decay can be prevented.

Studies indicate dental costs for children who have their first dental visit within 12 months of birth are 40% lower in the first 5 years than for those who do not see a dentist before to their first birthday.

Dr. Alan C. Sherrill, who has an office in Russellville comments:

“Prevention is the essential key. Brush and floss daily and have two check-ups a year so you won’t have to have a root canal. It hurts me to see people let their mouths go. Take time to floss once a day and brush twice.”

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the authority on children’s oral health, also announced this month the creation of their Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center.

The goal of the Center is to inform and advance research and policy analysis that will promote optimal oral health care for children. Through the AAPD, the Center will conduct research studies and policy analysis to further the understanding of practices which will improve oral health for all children. Upcoming work will focus on areas such as successful Medicaid dental reforms, effective oral health literacy efforts; the benefits of establishing a dental home by age one and the efficacy of expanded function dental assistant laws. The Center will assist federal and state policymakers in determining the best policies to positively improve the oral health status of children.

AAPD President Dr. John R. Liu states:

“Our Center will allow the AAPD to produce timely and high quality research and policy analysis on critical issues impacting children’s oral health. Too often, policymakers are presented with simplistic ‘solutions’ to children’s oral health that don’t hold up to rigorous scrutiny. The AAPD’s Center will serve as the resource for children’s oral health policy and research.”

Pediatric Dentistry places special importance in preventing tooth decay. Studies show that poor oral health care in children can lead to impaired school performance and poor social relationships. Therefore, Pediatric Dentists give advice on how to make teeth strong the importance of developing healthy eating habits and other ways to prevent disease from occurring.

Additionally, Pediatric Dentists work toward the maintenance of primary teeth (baby teeth) until they are naturally lost. This is due to the importance they serve in permitting children to chew properly and therefore maintain good nutrition, their role in speech development, and the maintenance of space for the eventual eruption of the permanent teeth.

The role of the Pediatric Dentist changes as children enter adolescence. Recognizing the growing importance of appearance and self-image in their patients, Pediatric Dentists work to ensure that adolescents’ dental needs are met. Preventative dental health care is emphasized and when necessary information is provided to adolescents about subjects such as wisdom teeth, tobacco use, sealants and oral piercing.

Source: American Association of Pediatric Dentistry

Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.