Did you know February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? All month long, the American Dental Association has worked with healthcare professionals and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers, and many others. Setting kids up for oral health success is that important.
Dr. Jeff Flannery and the staff at Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry are passionate about working with children from a very young age until they reach adulthood to ensure their mouths are well cared for. Caring for little teeth has a huge impact on overall health, so Dr. Jeff wants to make sure parents and caregivers are informed about the importance of beginning healthy habits early, what to expect at a child’s first dental appointment, and how to be a child’s dental health MVP at home.
Tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease affecting children in the United States and is on the rise, but is largely preventable.
Prevention is the key to success when it comes to oral health. Dr. Jeff is a huge advocate of getting kids in for regular exams early to prevent potentially painful work down the line.
The rate of tooth decay in baby teeth in children aged two to five years increased nearly 17% from 1988-1994 to 1999-2004.
This is hugely alarming! Baby teeth are important, and there is no reason they should experience decay if a strong dental health plan is in place. The goal of pediatric dentists is to ensure children’s parents and caregivers know how to keep those little teeth strong and healthy.
By age 5, about 60% of children will be affected by tooth decay.
Tooth decay: the decay of the outer surface of a tooth as the result of bacterial action. Children under five need the adults in their lives to take action and help care for those teeth. Tooth decay is a preventable disease!
Children with oral health problems are three times more likely to miss school due to dental pain than children with no oral health problems.
Dr. Jeff shared with us in an interview that working with children in an orphanage inspired him to pursue pediatric dentistry. He saw first-hand the impact that treatment for dental pain made in these kids’ personalities. He is deeply passionate about helping children understand that visiting the dentist is a good thing. He makes it fun, and the challenge of ensuring kids leave happy instead of scared is one of his favorite parts of his job.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends taking a child for his or her first dental visit by the age of one.
Healthy oral habits for life begin at a young age, so the AAPD strongly recommends children visit a pediatric dentist by the age of one or at the sign of the first tooth.
Delaying dental care to the age of two or three can have a negative impact on a child’s oral health. 40% of parents and caregivers are delaying their child’s first dental visit until after the age of two.
This is alarming because the official recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is to see a pediatric dentist either when the first tooth appears or by the age of one. While it’s common for a child not to see the dentist until age two or three, the statistics speak for themselves when it comes to the impact of early dental health visits on preventing tooth decay, getting a child used to caring for his teeth, and setting him up for long-term success.
A few extra notes:
One thing we appreciate about Dr. Jeff is that he is very careful not to scare parents or to come down hard on them about what should be done when it comes to kids’ dental health. As a father himself, he gets that it’s hard to stay on top of everything, but he also understands that children have no power to get themselves started on a dental care regimen. That’s the parents’ jobs.
There is a National Children’s Dental Health Month for a reason. For a full month each year, all of the experts who truly understand the positive impact of following the AAPD’s recommendations get to shout from the mountaintops! They get to do all they can to encourage parents in their roles as their children’s health advocates.
Worried about insurance? Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry has options to ensure your children can be seen. Call them at 205-980-1338 for more information.
The majority of this article’s information is directly from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. They have been wonderful to work with, allowing us to use Mouth Monsters on a previous post. Their goal is to encourage strong oral health in children, and they have a fabulous website for parents and caregivers to stay informed as well as grab some fun resources. Printable note from the Tooth Fairy, anyone?