By nature, dental hygienists are oral health prevention specialists. Care Harbor’s free-clinic environment offers a unique opportunity to reach out to entire families. The clinic provides education about oral and systemic health and how they are linked together.
At Care Harbor, pregnant women receive education about the importance of their oral health. Much needed dental care improves a mother’s overall health and the health of her developing fetus. This in turn affects the oral health of their children.
What Oral Health Studies Say
A 2014 study published in Journal of the American Dental Association emphasizes the impact of a lack of prevention. The study focused on emergency room visits nationwide due to untreated dental conditions from 2008 – 2010.
The statistics are stunning. There were over 4 million visits to the emergency room for untreated dental problems during that time. These visits averaged a cost of $760 per patient, a total cost of $2.7 billion! 101 patients in the years studied died as a direct result of untreated dental disease. Education is essential in preventing further disease and deaths due to poor oral health.
Education is Key
At a recent Care Harbor event, mothers learned important steps they can take to reduce the risk of cavities in their children:
- Wiping an infant’s gums or teeth, especially along the gum line, with a soft cloth after breast or bottle feeding. Order Rub-A-Dent’s Infant Brushes here!
- Not putting an infant to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing anything other than water.
- Brushing the child’s teeth using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, especially before bedtime. The last thing to touch the child’s teeth before bedtime should be the toothbrush.
- Helping a child to brush their teeth until they are about 7 years old.
- Avoid sharing saliva, such as kissing the baby on the mouth, sharing a spoon when tasting baby food, cleaning a dropped pacifier by mouth, or wiping the baby’s mouth with a cloth moistened with saliva. This includes older children sharing utensils and food with baby.
PJ Attebery, RDH, BSDH, Co-Director Dental Clinic at Care Harbor says,
“After Care Harbor adopted a program of the oral health Prevention & Education, patient response was immediate with tears and hugs of gratitude.
Parents and all participants realized, by practicing prevention, they were in control and could determine the course of their own, and their families’ future oral health and more importantly that reoccurring dental disease was not inevitable.”