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Posts tagged “Children’s dental health”

Not All Children are Equal when it comes to Dental Insurance

There is a famous literary quote namely, ‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.’

This quote seems apt today when applied to children living in the State of New Jersey, according to researchers. The latter found that in 2009 one in 20 children (aged 3 – 18) living in the State received no dental treatment whatsoever. While this statistic is an improvement on previous research in 2001, which found one-third of children had no dental treatment, nevertheless it does raise questions as to what the authorities are doing to improve access.

Seemingly, it is children who have no insurance cover or are born outside of the US who are at the most risk of dental problems.

Although the American Dental Association recommends regular trips to the dentist for either check ups or treatment, the cost can be prohibitive for many families. As such, they tend to forego these visits, spending money on other things instead.

Yet, as is now known, ensuring teeth are checked regularly can in fact help prevent more serious problems from developing later in life.

Speaking with reporters, José Nova, research project coordinator and lead author of the study said: “Tooth decay remains one of the most preventable common chronic diseases among children.”

It seems in the USA generally, tooth decay affects over a quarter of children aged 2 to 5 and a massive 50% of children aged 12 to 15.

Many dentists are trying to address this massive problem by offering free surgeries every now and again. But it is still clear that dental health in the USA has a long way to go before it improves.

US dental practice reaches milestone and has a party to celebrate

A practice based in Tuckahoe recently held a party involving its patients and others to mark being in business for 18 months. The celebration was held in honour of its customers rather than the practice itself.

The atmosphere was about having fun, with many of the children attending having paint daubed on their faces.

One of the owners of the practice, Erica Pichardo told reporters: “I absolutely love my job. It’s a pleasure to be here, and to dish up a cup of happiness to these patients.”

The party also had a Hawaiian theme which everyone attending thought a great idea. Many of the staff even went as far as adorning Hawaiian clothing; children played with Hawaiian toys.

One of those attending the party was the office manager, Lynda Lederle-Natale. She said: “The month of August celebrates our 18-month anniversary here in Tuckahoe.

“In the Jewish religion, the number 18 means long life and happiness. It’s a good number, so we decide to have a patient appreciation day. Without our wonderful patients we wouldn’t exist.”

Referring to the fun the children were having at the party, another attendee added: “Painting the children here is a lot of fun for me. It brings me much joy to see their little faces change into whatever they want it to be.

“I’ve been here for eight different days throughout the month hanging out with all the kids and it’s really a great opportunity for them because coming to the dentist can be pretty scary.  They do a great job here calming the kids.”

The party attracted a large number of the practice’s patients. One first time younger patient, Alyssa Gallo who is only 8 years old said: “The dentist was really nice. I was really good so they let me pick out three prizes. I can’t wait to come again, the office is really cool.”

Children of Fiji Charity Send 400 boxes of Aid

400 boxes of aid have begun their 40-day trip to Fiji, after an immense contribution from the residents of Derby. Computer equipment, thousands of books and toothbrushes were collection by the Children of Fiji Charity to help improve the education and dental health of hundreds of children living on the remote Pacific islands.

Margaret and Peter Long, former Derby residents, created the charity after visiting the country in 1999. During this trip they were struck by the low standards of education and oral health and so formed the charity in the hope that they could make a change.

Margaret and Peter are to visit Fiji on the 12th of September to help with the distribution of the aid and outlined the main problem areas in Fiji they wished to address; “The biggest problem in Fiji is that they don’t know the importance of dental hygiene, which is why we are sending out toothbrushes and toothpaste.”

Over 400 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpastes were contributed by Oral-B, to help with the oral hygiene problems and computers, scanners and printers were donated by the Chaddesden Park and Alban’s primary schools, to help bring technology to the classrooms of Fiji. Margaret also discussed the importance of technology in terms of education: “Not many schools in Fiji have computers because they don’t have electricity. We want to show how important computers are to education, using the computers sent out on this aid trip.”

The couple and residents of Derby have high hopes for the trip and are keen to expand upon the reach of the charity in the near future: “After this trip, we will continue to fund-raise for big projects and promote the importance of school and education.”

Dispute in Iceland Causing Problems for Children

Iceland is not a country that many people would associate with being troublesome, but recent financial events have brought this nation to the forefront.

Today’s financial troubles have brought damaging consequences to many countries and are now having a worrying effect upon the dental health of Iceland’s children.

Financial pressures still appear to be having an effect, not least among dentists. It seems that negotiations between Icelandic health authorities and dentists have stalled, making a major impact on the health of the nation’s children.

The negotiations are over the instigation of a new State contract, something that hasn’t happened for 12 years. As such, dentists have been forced to ask for a rise of between 110-115 per cent on refunds from the national insurance fund. Unfortunately, for the dentists, the health authorities are refusing to accept this.

This has also forced Sigurdur Benediktsson, chairman of the Icelandic Dentists’ Association to attack the State authorities for not doing something about providing cheap and good quality dental health care for the youngest and most vulnerable in Icelandic society.

He said that there is currently a financial surplus that could be used in part to fund a proper dental health service for children and those least able to afford dental care. This is borne out by a recent survey which appeared to show that 42% of 0 – 17 year olds have not visited a dentist in the past 12 months.

This dispute is for many people very worrying, as in the main Iceland’s health system has been praised as being very affordable. However, dental health not included.

Calling for a New Dental Regime

In order to keep in check with the oral health of a health conscious community, the private communications company ‘Asiacell’ (based in Iraq) has recently started a ‘Dental Health Awareness Campaign’, which has announced that it would work alongside the ‘Shahid Sardar Dental Centre’.

The campaign is due to last three months, with an ultimate goal of raising awareness about the best oral health routines for children. In order to spread this message to as many people as possible ‘Asiacell’ will distribute packages to children who visit the ‘Shahid Sardar Dental Centre’. This package includes two books on dental health awareness, as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste.

The CEO of ‘Asiacell’ is Dr. Diar Ahmed who commented that this response demonstrated by Asiacell is ideal for its social responsibility and shows the dedication to support Iraq’s dynamic sectors. Dr. Ahmed said: “It is imperative for private companies to support national efforts in catering to the growing healthcare needs of all community members, particularly children, who are considered the foundation to building a brighter future. By the end of this campaign, we hope to have reached out to approximately 10,000 children, which in turn will decrease the risk of oral diseases. We look forward to future opportunities for cooperation with both public and private healthcare organizations across the various provinces of our country, in order to provide healthcare services to all members of the Iraqi community.”

Present Signs of Future Decay

A recent dental research study has suggested that mothers who have poor oral health are more than likely to pass their dental traits down to their own children. The research was run over the course of 27 years and the results make for interesting reading.

First started in 1972 in New Zealand, the study took into consideration the births of 1,000 children and it was discovered that the children of mothers with poor oral health are more than likely to experience the same dental problems as shown by their parent. The research also found that the probable outcome of whatever dental problem their child has depends on several factors, which include environmental and genetic indicators.

In order to gain an unbiased opinion, the children were questioned at the age of 5 in 1978 and then when they were 32 years old. This was then put against the same readings measured by the mother in 1978. It was discovered that over the course of this 27 year period, nearly half of the children (45.1%) whose mothers rated their oral health as ‘very poor’ suffered from severe tooth decay and it was reported that 39.6% of children polled suffered from tooth loss during their adult years.

So what are these environmental risk factors that can affect a child’s level of oral health?  Reasons given included the knowledge passed down from mother to child as well the person’s social economic status (SES).

Dr. Nigel Carter, who is the Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, commented on this study: “These findings represent important confirmation of a trend that has long been recognised…Work by Per Axelsson in Sweden in the 1970s clearly demonstrated that a child’s likelihood of decay was determined by the amount of bacteria in the mother’s mouth and that this was passed from mother to child…If further findings into oral health risks transmitting from one generation to the next can be substantiated, then we must target parents to educate their children in the hope they can better their own oral health and pass the message on to future generations.”

Although it has been reported that the dental health of many children has improved in recent years, one in three 5 year olds are still showing obvious dental decay, with more than two thirds of those polled at age 12 were found to be free of visible dental decay.

Spreading a Positive Message about Dental Health

For some dentists, informing their patients about keeping a great level of dental health could involve using horrifying photographs of poor oral hygiene, to disgust them into action. However, for one dental professional a different, gentler approach seems to work just as well.

At Augusta Paediatric Dentistry in Maine, you will find all the usual dental tools and instruments normally associated with a dental practice, but you will also see arcade games, teddy bears, hobby horses and televisions. According to Jonathan Shenkin, the reason for this is simple: “We create an environment that is friendly and hospitable to kids and not as clinical.”

According to the May 2011 report “The State of Children’s Dental Health: Making Coverage Matter”, there is room for improvement, especially when it is claimed that tooth decay is the most common disease in children, which is five times more widespread than asthma. Dr. Shenkin noticed that the children who were passing through his doors were more prone to suffering from tooth decay, so he decided to make a conscious decision about this and, in particular, looked to his own childhood memories when his father took him to a dentist.

“It didn’t go well. There was a lot of kicking and screaming on my part,” said Dr. Shenkin. However, after visiting a paediatrician who was a great deal more caring, he got over his fears and the experience went on to forge his current ideas. He cites tobacco use as a common cause of tooth decay, as well as consuming excessive levels of sugary drinks. He urges parents not to give their children high-in-sugar drinks, as it is this exposure that wears down teeth at this early age.

Understanding the best methods for maintaining your children’s oral health means a better future for their teeth and overall wellbeing.

Future mothers given words of advice

For any potential mother, the prospect of having a child is an exciting one. Whether it is your first, second or even third child this momentous time is a blessing and is cherished by all. Once the baby arrives, the caring never stops. You wipe their mouths, clean their behinds, clothe them and bathe them.

Then there comes the worrying. When should I wean my child off breastfeeding and onto bottles? Is it time for my baby to sleep in their own bed yet or should they stay in their crib? For any parent, the list of concerns is endless but one in particular has become ever so prominent and recently answers were provided for one mother in particular.

A question was posed on the CNN Health website which asked “When should my baby see a dentist?” The responses given by Dr. Jennifer Shu were completely frank but entirely helpful.

In her reply, Dr. Shu said that a child should visit a dentist by their first birthday. According to the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, Dr. Shu states that a child should visit a dentist when they are aged between six months and one year old.

According to Dr. Shu’s response, the importance of a young baby visiting a dentist should not be underestimated. As with our own teeth, by a child visiting their dentist during this age range will enable for any potential problem which is emerging to be stopped in its tracks and the necessary dental treatment can then be prescribed.

Dr. Shu further says that the dentist will be able to advise the parent on what the best possible diet is for their baby and their dental health. Parents might simply not know about the problems that could arise from the diet they are providing for their children. A professional opinion is better than none at all.

For parents in the UK, dental treatment is provided for by the National Health Service (NHS) but in the USA (which is where Dr. Shu is from) it is recommended for parents living in this area to fully explore the avenues which their current dental insurance could offer or maybe take up an insurance plan that could provide a better dental service.

Bieber Goes Dental

In an effort to make tooth brushing fun, Justin Bieber, the iconic American pop star, has plans to release a collection of toothbrushes for kids, teens and adults.

According to a press release, the Bieber tooth brushes are meant to encourage children and teens to brush their teeth properly while listening to their favorite music. Each track on the tooth brushes lasts for two minutes, the suggested amount of time that children should brush their teeth.

The Bieber brushes are dentist-approved and are slated to be made available to the general public in America from 1 July. Other oral health products bearing the Bieber name include dental floss and flossers.

Songs included on the toothbrushes are four Bieber’s hits, “Baby,” “U Smile,” “Somebody to Love,” and “Love Me.”

New Zealand Survey Shows Pupils Avoid Dentist

Although dental care is free for children up to the age of 18 in New Zealand, recent statistics in Christchurch show that a number of children are in need of dental care. In fact, one-third of pupils at a local college tested all required dental treatment, researchers report.

The project’s leader, Alan Parris, called it “shocking” since New Zealand’s dental health care programme is free up to the age of 18. The project saw pupils being taken to the dentist via mini buses since they were not showing up for their check-ups, even after being informed that the service was free.

Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand president Patrick Walsh said: “Bad oral hygiene was a huge issue in schools, particularly in areas that did not have fluoridated water, an issue that affects the children.”

Walsh said that he had known children as young as 10 years old who were having root canals. “It impacts adversely on their ability to learn and their self-esteem,” he said.

The survey conducted also revealed that a vast number of children were also going hungry. One-third of the students did not have breakfast on the day of the research and 21 percent eat no lunch on the day.

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