May 2020 Volume LV Number 3


President's Message

March 2020 Volume LV Number 2

Establishment of a Dental Home
One of the honors of representing the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) as President is the opportunity to be interviewed by the media. This includes radio broadcasts, television broadcasts, interviews for newspaper articles, interviews for professional journals and interviews for magazines that typically focus on health and/or parenting.
The excellent media training from AAPD Director of the Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center Dr. Robin Wright and wonderful professional advice from AAPD Public Relations Director Ms. Erika Hoeft, related to me that frequently at the conclusion of an interview, you are offered the opportunity to answer the question, "Is there anything else you would like to add?" What I have found is that every interview I have had up to this point has concluded with, "Do you have anything else that you would like to add?"
What a great opportunity to address the importance of estab- lishing a Dental Home for every child, preferably no later than their first birthday! It is amazing that discussing the importance of estab- lishing a Dental Home can easily accompany any interview topic. When discussing sedation, ending an interview with establishing a Dental Home so that dental caries, a preventable chronic infectious disease that can be avoided, is perfect. A wonderful opportunity is presented to explain prevention, ongoing comprehensive oral health care and anticipatory guidance. Interviewers clearly see that preventive dentistry reduces the need for sedation. Many interviews focus on health, frequently concerning what children should eat  and drink at mealtimes, for snacks and during holidays. Again, the establishment of  a Dental Home naturally goes with healthy eating and drinking. Appropriate foods and beverages and the frequency of exposure to the oral cavity are critical to oral health mainte- nance. The establishment of a Dental Home will emphasize these facts during the anticipatory guidance presented during a visit to the Dental Home. The use of a smear of fluoridated toothpaste upon the eruption of the first tooth, which advances to a pea size of fluoridated toothpaste for toddlers, frequency of snacks, types of snacks and appropriate types and amounts of beverages are also discussed during the Dental Home visit.
So, the point I am making is how easy it is to incorporate estab- lishing a Dental Home into almost any conversation. Why? We are aware of the fact that almost three out of four children do not see  a dentist by their first birthday. We also know that three out of four children experience at least one caries lesion by their seventeenth birthday. Any opportunity we have to encourage establishing a Dental Home for all children is an important message for us to share whenever we can!
Pediatricians understand the Medical Home and can easily un- derstand the importance of the Dental Home. Immunization pre- vention is critical the first two years of life and is provided through the Medical Home, similarly to the prevention discussion, including daily home care by parents, fluoride and anticipatory guidance, that we provide through the Dental Home. Since dentistry is such  a small part of mediacal education, pediatric dentists can speak with pediatricians to encourage their participation in making parents aware of the Dental Home for all children, emphasizing the age one dental visit.
Many of you are active with your state chapter societies or acad- emies of pediatric dentistry. Your responsibility includes working with the State Department of Health and Human Services to edu- cate them in children’s oral health. The Department of Health and Human Services is the conduit to the state legislature that deter- mines the budget for the State Department of Health. Every dollar distributed to Dental Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a dollar that can be used to help underserved/ uninsured children become a part of a Dental Home.
Pediatric dentists on school boards or local dental societies can speak with school leaders to positively influence dental care and appropriate lunch diets. Likewise, contact with local community clinics, including Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Clinics, can influence children to establish a Dental Home through a commu- nity clinic, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that offers dental care, or through private dental practices that provide a Den- tal Home for ongoing preventive and restorative dental care.
Finally, any group of pediatric dentists or an individual pediatric dentist can emphasize the importance of establishing a Dental Home. February, National Children’s Dental Health Month, or August, prior to schools starting the fall semester, media can be con- tacted to emphasize the importance of Dental Homes.
The media is always interested in reporting on seasonal events that provide the opportunity to think about health prevention for children.
Please accept my best wishes as you all do your best, using the avenues available, to see that every child can establish a Dental Home to achieve optimal oral health.

Click here for a PDF version of this article.