March 2021 Volume LVI Number 2

 
 
 
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President's Message

March 2021 Volume LVI Number 2

Getting Back to Basics: Starting with a Dental Home
 
February was National Children’s Dental Health Month. Like in years past, many of us opened our doors to provide some care for children in need or spent time reaching out to community health centers, schools and even virtually. But unlike years past, we did this in midst of a pandemic. Give Kids a Smile Day is just not a day or a month for pediatric dentists, it is a way of life. It’s a mission! The past year has presented its challenges and so many of us had to modify our practices, but one thing still holds true – every child deserves a Dental Home!
 
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry policy states, "The AAPD recognizes a dental home should provide comprehensive, continuous, accessible, family-centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally-effective care for children."
 
The AAPD and the AAPD Foundation has worked tireless to ensure every child has a Dental Home – even in the midst of the pandemic, we ensured that private practice pediatric dentists had access to personal protection equipment (PPE) so that you could safely open. We believe a Dental Home begins in every neighborhood.
 
Access to dental care begins locally, so our goal was to get the practices running. Through the AAPD Founda- tion, community programs have been cultivated with community partners to help underserved children.
 
Over that last year, pediatric dentists from all over have witnessed that dental caries in children remains a huge challenge. The pandemic just shed light on something we all knew. Dental caries is a preventable disease that leads to pain and suffering if left untreated. We currently recommend that all children have their initial dental visit during the first year of life. For prevention to be effective, it must start early. Early dental visits for infants and their families offer an opportunity to educate and inform parents about their children’s oral health. In den- tal anticipatory guidance, providers counsel caregivers in infant oral hygiene, home and office-based fluoride therapies, dietary practices and caries-risk assessment.
 
Dental caries remains the most common chronic disease of childhood, more than four times more prevalent than asthma. National surveys report that more than 50 percent of children still experience caries in their pri- mary teeth. Untreated dental disease in children can lead to significant pain, difficult emergency department visits, and millions of school and caregiver work hours lost each year, with uninsured children having more absences. Dental Homes can prevent suffering, reduce dollars spent on future surgical and emergency dental services, and maximize the chances for children to grow up with healthy, happy smiles.
 
As life seems to have gotten so complicated, we just need to get back to the basics! Every child deserves a Den- tal Home. We need to be incorporating these messages back into our conversations. Many of us are asked to talk to local groups. Whether that be to local parenting groups, community pediatricians, school boards, state boards, state district dental societies, we are all presented with opportunities to discuss the importance of a Dental Home and getting back to the pediatric dentists!
 

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