February is National Children's Dental Health Month
Dr. Liliana Rozo Gaeth discusses the importance of oral health in children.
Ideally, oral health education related to children starts when parents are informed by their physicians about the importance of dental care for pregnant women. Regardless of internet access, messages in the media and visits to the doctor, many parents are still unaware that optimal maternal oral hygiene during pregnancy may decrease the amount of caries or cavity–producing oral bacteria that can be transmitted to their baby. Studies have shown that mothers with periodontal disease experience more incidences of delivering premature and low birth-weight babies. Mothers with cavities can transmit caries-producing oral bacteria to their babies when they clean pacifiers by sticking them in their own mouths or by sharing spoons. Poor oral health also contributes to a person’s low self-esteem and poor social interaction.
Dental caries, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease and often remains a chronic disease throughout the lives of many in the United States as well as around the world. The recommendations regarding how to prevent tooth decay, and create a lifetime of healthy habits for children includes establishing a dental home for your child and making regular visits for checkups with a pediatric dentist. It is very important that parents recognize the need to establish a dental home as soon as their baby’s first tooth erupts, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).
A dental home will help parents become familiar with their child's dental and oral health milestones, such as oral hygiene habits, normal tooth development, teething, nutritional counseling, healthy snacks and trauma prevention. During the first appointment, the pediatric dentist also will discuss with parents the importance of regular dental visits. Contemporary guidelines on the management of oral disease recommend more emphasis on prevention.
Oftentimes, parents do not make the connection between oral health and overall health, but they are related. The mouth is the open door for many microbial infections to enter the bloodstream. Poor oral health may be a risk factor for systemic disease. Oral health manifestations, such as bleeding or dry mouth can indicate the presence of a systemic disease or exacerbate the effects of an existing disease such as diabetes and heart disease.
The University of Louisville School of Dentistry has created an Oral Health Education program that welcomes children from ages one to 17. Both parents and children are educated in areas of oral hygiene techniques, adequate use of Fluoride products, importance of a non-cariogenic diet and the importance of primary dentition. Children and adolescents will be evaluated regarding their growth and development of healthy mouths, jaws, teeth and gums. We are specialists who provide expert care for all children, including those with special needs such as autism or other complex systemic diseases. Orthodontics is also an important aspect of our program for those who need it. We offer dental treatments under sedation or general anesthesia as well as emergency coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The University of Louisville, School of Dentistry Pediatric Clinic has two locations: UofL School of Dentistry, 501 S. Preston Street and UofL School of Dentistry at Kosair Charities, 982 Eastern Parkway. Call (502) 852-5642 to set up an appointment.
Dr. Liliana Rozo Gaeth is a faculty member in the Department of Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry and Special Care. She is a board certified pediatric dentist of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
UofL at Kosair Charities