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Make Dentist Visits the Rule for Back-to-School


Delta Dental Stresses Importance of Getting Dental Check-Ups before School Starts

   

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OAK BROOK, Ill. (Aug 16, 2012) - Along with an annual physical, clothes and backpacks, Delta Dental suggests adding a visit to the dentist to your child's back-to-school list this fall.

Dental professionals recommend biannual visits for most children, and the end of summer is an ideal time because it follows a season in which kids have indulged in treats like soda, ice cream and cotton candy.

"The school day is no time for a child to be distracted by tooth pain," says Dr. Bill Kohn, Delta Dental's vice president for dental science and policy. "Timing a dental visit for just prior to going back to school helps ensure that a child won't be distracted by dental disease or pain in class. In addition, the dentist can provide age-appropriate wellness guidance and advice. It's also the perfect time to get a mouthguard made for those participating in fall sports."

A dental visit is important because a dentist can diagnose potential oral health problems such as tooth decay or gum disease and apply preventive measures as needed, including teeth cleaning, fluoride treatment, dental sealants, and instruction on good dental hygiene habits. Making sure children get a clean bill of oral health before the school year allows them to return to class flashing a happy and healthy smile. Conversely, untreated dental problems can be painful and embarrassing, and can harm a child's educational and social development. In 2007, for example, the State of California estimated that seven percent of their more than seven million schoolchildren (504,000) missed at least one day of school because of a dental problem.1

Unfortunately, access to sufficient dental care is not nearly what it needs to be for children from poor and uninsured families. A study from the Pew Center on the States found that two-thirds of states in the U.S. do not have adequate policies in place to ensure access to proper preventive dentistry, particularly for those children that lack appropriate access to care.2 Instead, programs like mobile dental units that visit schools and school-based dental sealant programs are playing a critical part in improving the oral health and quality of life of low-income, American children.

Regardless, good oral health for children starts at home with proper dental hygiene and diet. The daily one-two punch of brushing twice with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once is still the foundation for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Very young children (ages 1 to 5) are particularly prone to tooth decay and parents should supervise (or actually brush) to make sure they do a good job. A diet light on sugary snacks and drinks and rich in fruits and vegetables goes a long way toward maintaining good oral and overall health.

About Delta Dental Plans Association
The not-for-profit Delta Dental Plans Association (www.deltadental.com), based in Oak Brook, IL, is the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. It provides dental benefits programs to more than 59 million Americans in more than 95,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more oral health news and information from Dr. Kohn and DDPA, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter.

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1(Source: 2007 California Health Interview Survey) UCLA Health Policy Research Brief - Unaffordable Dental Care Is Linked to Frequent School Absences, 2009 Pourat N and Nicholson G.
http://www.healthpolicy.ucla.edu/pubs/files/Unaffordable_Dental_Care_PB_1109.pdf

2The Cost of Delay: State Dental Policies Fail One in Five Children. Pew Center on the States.
http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/Cost_of_Delay_web.pdf