The mouth matters!

By the CDHP team

Speak Now For Kids, recently asked me to write a blog post for its website, and the article I wrote is below. Speak Now for Kids in an online child advocacy network that raises awareness of the challenges that children and families face in our changing health care system. Check out their website. Speak Now for Kids even has a story bank where people can share their personal stories about children's health through photos, text, audio or video content.

“Families are surprised to learn that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, and that it’s preventable,” says pediatrician Rani Gereige, MD, MPH, FAAP, director of medical education at Miami Children’s Hospital. “They may have difficulty accessing a dentist. So I teach our residents to examine a child’s mouth. Without that, we can’t know if a child is fully healthy.”

But what should pediatricians be looking for? The AAP Section on Oral Health has a simple risk assessment tool for primary care providers. Through the Affordable Care Act, providers can offer several services at no cost to parents, including oral health risk assessments, the application of cavity-preventing fluoride varnish on children's teeth (ages 0-5) and fluoride supplements for young children at high risk in unfluoridated areas.

There are a lot of incentives for children’s hospitals to help families prevent oral health problems.

When dental problems go unnoticed, children may end up in hospital emergency rooms, where costly procedures rarely address the underlying disease that causes cavities, not to mention missed school days, inability to learn or eat and grow due to pain.

“There are a lot of incentives for children’s hospitals to help families prevent oral health problems,” notes Dr. Gereige. “Pediatric departments are well positioned to provide basic services, to help link families to pediatric dentists and to train a new generation of providers who treat the mouth as part of the body.”

“There are many serious child health issues that we cannot prevent,” Dr. Gereige adds. “Tooth decay is not one of them.”

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Did you know?

44% }
of U.S. children will have at least one cavity by kindergarten.
More on the state of dental health ›