Every February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month with a goal to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. The ADA, in collaboration with dental professionals, health care providers, and oral heath advocates, has worked consistently to spread the message of the importance of children’s oral health to communities across the country. Kentucky’s State Legislature also took part in recognizing the importance of children’s oral health. House Resolution 61, sponsored by Representative Tom Burch, was adopted on February 4th, declaring February 2015 to be Oral Health Awareness Month. On Febraury 5th, Senator Ralph Alvarado introduced a companion resolution in the Senate.
Cultivating good oral health habits and promoting regularly scheduled dental visits can give kids the head start that they need to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Research shows that healthy teeth and gums can translate into a decrease in missed school days due to oral pain and dental visits and a decrease in emergency room utilization, which will ultimately lead to an increase in promising job prospects, and better overall health and well-being.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Tooth decay is the number one most common chronic disease in children–more common than asthma, early-childhood obesity, and diabetes.
- 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental related issues.1
- Research shows that if a child’s tooth decay goes untreated, it can lead to tooth loss, speech problems and even low self-esteem.
- 43 percent of Kentucky’s children have severe early childhood dental decay before reaching the age of five and approximately 39 percent of these children have never visited a dentist.2
- Tooth decay affects 20 percent of preschoolers, 50 percent of second graders, and nearly 75 percent of 15-year-olds in Kentucky.2
- 13 percent of Kentucky adults experience toothlessness, compared to the national average of six percent.2
- Untreated dental disease is linked to adverse health outcomes associated with diabetes, stroke, heart disease, bacterial pneumonia, preterm and low birth weight deliveries, and in some instances, death.
The ADA shares free online tools and resources for oral health advocates to present on the benefits of good oral hygiene to children, parents, and various professionals. No matter if you’re a dentist, hygienist, concerned parent, social worker, or teacher, advocating for good children’s oral health is an easy way to work towards Kentucky Oral Health Coalition’s overall vision for all people of Kentucky to enjoy optimal oral health.
1 National Children’s Oral Health Foundation. (2015). Facts about tooth decay. Resources. Retrieved from http://www.ncohf.org/resources/tooth-decay-facts
2 Dawkins et al. (2013). Dental caries among children visiting a mobile dental clinic in South Central Kentucky: A pooled cross-sectional study. BMC Oral Health, 13(19). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3653808/#B9