THE NEXTDDS Blog

3 Reasons Why Dental Caries are Prevalent in Pediatric Patients

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 @ 01:00 PM

caries-1.jpgAs reported by the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research, 42% of children between the ages of 2 and 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth, with that percentage increasing for multicultural children and those from low income families.1 Many circumstances beyond the child’s control predispose him or her to dental caries. In order to take preventive measures with your adolescent patients, it is important to know what you can do as a practitioner to identify at-risk patients. Just as important, understanding the etiology of dental cases should also be on the mind of every dentist.

With diagnostic technology advancing and preventive measures, such as fluoride, readily available, why do dental caries continue to be prevalent among children? Courtesy of educator and pediatric dentist Dr. Greg Psaltis, here are some reasons why dental caries continue to affect pediatric patients.

The Vulnerable Population

To start, it’s important to focus on how the vulnerable population (e.g., patients of low socioeconomic status) is different from the rest of the population. Children who are at a higher risk for dental caries often have oral health needs that are unmet and untreated.2 Those from minority groups3 or are of special needs4 have an even tougher time obtaining adequate treatment. Without consistent treatment, vulnerable communities have a lack of self-care instructions, have no “dental home,” and no overall oral health education.

Early_Childhood_Caries.jpgWith limited access to care, caries in pediatric patients don’t get properly diagnosed, which continues this trend of neglected treatment. As treatment for dental caries is delayed, the child's condition worsens and becomes more difficult, the cost of treatment increases, and the number of clinicians who can perform the more complicated procedures diminishes.5

Geographic Disparities

There’s a major disparity between the geographic distribution of dentists and where dental care is most needed. While many dental students show interest in practicing in urban and rural areas,6 there is still a lack of dentists presently in these areas. In rural Southern and Midwestern states, for example, patients have to travel far to see a dentist, particularly one that takes Medicaid insurance. The ADA’s Health Policy Institute recently introduced a detailed, interactive map that lays out the geographic access to dental care within each state in the U.S.

To counteract this unfortunate reality, many dental schools, educational grants, and organizations such as dental support organizations look to turn dental students towards the advantages of practicing in these areas, often through loan repayment programs. For many, the idea of being financially supported to work in an underserved community, while also possibly having more production than a more competitive state (e.g. California) is a compelling offer. With more dental schools opening to address these geographical shortages in dentists, students now are more aware of these disparities than ever before.

Federal Insurance Programs

While the number of children under Medicaid and similar insurance coverages has increased over the years, with more children insured now than ever before, it’s not always easy to find providers. Because of the low reimbursements options that are offered to dentists through these coverages, some dentists refuse to see patients that have this insurance. With dental caries rampant amongst pediatric patients and families that are of a low socioeconomic status,2,3 Medicaid is often the only affordable and appropriate coverage for these patients. This stalemate between low-income families and available Medicaid dentists continues to thwart the improvement of children in vulnerable communities.

 

Dental caries affects millions of pediatric patients. The question lies in how this disease can best be managed in young populations, with a heavier lens on those that have direct barriers to access. Without the combined efforts of both the knowledgeable dentist and the continued improvement to healthcare systems, children in these vulnerable communities and areas will continue to be at a high risk. When these parties come together to overcome these barriers to care, children will be better cared for and better educated on the importance of sustaining their oral health.

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References

1. Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Children (Age 2 to 11). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/DentalCaries/DentalCariesChildren2to11.htm. Published May 28, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2017.

2. Grant J, Peters A. Children's Dental Health Disparities. The Pew Charitable Trusts. http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/analysis/2016/02/16/childrens-dental-health-disparities. Published February 16, 2016. Accessed June 12, 2017.

3. Swann BJ. Impact of Racial Disparities. Perspectives on the Midlevel Practitioner. http://www.dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/ddhnoright.aspx?id=23960 Published October 2016. Accessed June 12, 2017.

4. Mitchell JM, Gaskin DJ. Dental Care Use and Access for Special Needs Children. Maternal and Child Health Research Program. https://mchb.hrsa.gov/research/documents/finalreports/mitchellR40mc04296FinalReport.pdf. Published March 2007. Accessed June 12, 2017.

5. Çolak H, Dülgergil ÇT, Dalli M, Hamidi MM. Early childhood caries update: A review of causes, diagnoses, and treatments. Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine. 2013;4(1):29-38. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.107257.

6. Sweeney SE, Groves RM. 2016. The changing dental career landscape: The impact of dental school graduates’ pathway into the profession. Mahwah, NJ: Next Media Group. Accessed November 23, 2016. Available at http://thenextmediagroup.com/shop/researches/

Tags: children's health, Early Childhood Caries, caries, dental caries, pediatric patients

HEALTH-O-WEEN, Keeping the Dentist & Doctor Away

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

candy-around-pumpkins.jpgHalloween is rearing its jack-o-lantern-shaped head and, of course, most kids couldn’t be any more excited. Partaking in costumes and trick-or-treating have become pastimes for American children. Despite the joy of the tradition, however, there is one aspect of the holiday that the adolescents love but their dentists may hate: sugar-based candy. With Halloween being ages old, maybe it’s time to start a new, healthy tradition for Halloween treats?

As future dentists, surely we all know the negative effects of sugar on the dentition—dental caries being the obvious result. Young children are largely affected by this disease. As report by Carifree.com, 52 million school hours are lost each year due to dental disease. Also, by age 11, 50% of kids experience tooth decay. According to the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research, 42% of children 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth and 23% of children 2 to 11 have untreated caries.

Indulging in Snickers, Skittles, Hershey bars, candy corn, etc. may not be too harmful to children if consumed in moderation. As future dental professionals, however, we still need to acknowledge and cater to adolescents who have cannot eat Halloween candy because of food allergies. According to Foodallergy.org, 1 in 13 children have allegoric reactions (some even life threatening) to certain foods. It doesn’t help that most popular candy bars contain common allergens like nuts, soy, eggs, wheat, and dairy.

tppprofilepicpublic.pngThe Teal Pumpkin Project was launched as a national campaign in 2014 by FARE—Food Allergy Research & Education. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about food allergies. This idea is the brainchild of Becky Basalone, Civil Servant and Founder/Director of the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee. She also the mother of a child with severe food allergies. At Halloween, she decided to hand out alternatives to candy, such as small toys and other non-edible fun treats and created a movement to enable her kids to partake in the holiday.

Teal is the color of choice for Basalone’s project because it is the national color for food allergy awareness. If you are trick-or-treating and see a teal-painted pumpkin on someone’s front yard, do not expect to receive candy. If you’re not sure what to hand out in lieu of sugary snacks, think about other things children enjoy. Crayons, bracelets, markers, necklaces, stickers, bubbles, noisemakers, action figures, and other toys are all good alternatives.

The Teal Pumpkin Project has significantly grown in popularity and is widely embraced by parents around the country. The campaign has reached 5.5 million people on Facebook and attracted national media attention.

This Halloween, let’s make healthy decisions for the children. They can still partake in the joy of the holiday without indulging in junk food. Let’s give them treats that do not negatively affect their oral health or trigger allergies. Breaking tradition in this case should be accepted because the health of our children is worth preserving.

 

Tags: children, dentistry, halloween, children's health

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