Today's guest blogger is Warren Brill, D.M.D., M.S., a pediatric dentist in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry president and a national spokesperson of the AAPD, as well as an advocate for the dental health and overall well-being of children.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recently launched the Monster-Free Mouths Movement to underscore the vital importance of early oral care, and given February is National Children's Dental Health Month, it's a great time to join the Movement!
AAPD's Monster-Free Mouths Movement aims to arm parents and caregivers with important tools and information to help fight the Mouth Monsters (tooth decay). And there is no doubt that help is needed: by age 5 nearly 60 percent of kids have had tooth decay. The rate of tooth decay in tots is alarming not only because it is on the rise, but it becomes harder to treat once it sets in, especially if at an early age. The good news is that this top chronic infectious disease among our nation's children is nearly completely preventable. While most parents and caregivers are aware of the importance of brushing and flossing, it's only part of the puzzle in preventing tooth decay.
Ensuring healthy little teeth starts with setting up regular visits to the pediatric dentist to establish a "Dental Home." The "Dental Home" enhances the dental professional's ability to provide optimal oral health care for successful preventive care and treatment as part of an overall oral health care foundation for life. The AAPD recommends the first dental visit by age 1, but it's never too late! Parents and caregivers are very busy and it can be hard to keep up with all of the "must dos," but just as children have well visits with a pediatrician, regular pediatric dental visits are important for a child's overall health and well-being.
Parents and caregivers may wonder why it's important to select a pediatric dentist. In fact, they are not alone: according to a recent AAPD survey more than half of parents and caregivers surveyed thought that pediatric dentists receive the same or less training than a general dentist. However, pediatric dentists actually receive an additional two to three years of specialized study beyond dental school.
This extra study places an emphasis on child psychology, growth and development, and special health care needs – all areas that give pediatric dentists the unique expertise to cater to the specific needs of kids. Not surprisingly, when parents and caregivers learned about this additional training, they were nearly unanimous in stating they would likely seek out a pediatric dentist for their child.
The AAPD created the Mouth Monster Defense Kit, available on mychildrensteeth.org, with fun tools to help talk to kids about good habits to keep healthy teeth, a tip sheet for parents and caregivers in addition to a pediatric dentist finder. Join the Monster-Free Mouths Movement today to protect children's teeth, banish the Mouth Monsters and build the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth!
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