Oral disease is the most severely unmet health care need among children and adolescents and a cause of unnecessary pain and suffering.
Tooth decay is the single most common chronic disease of childhood. Prevention and regular dental care can make a significant impact on the reduction of dental disease, along with fluoridated water and nutritious food, dental insurance benefits, and an adequate supply of dentists that accept public and private insurance. For many children and families, difficulty accessing care remains one of the most significant barriers to good oral health. Many children live in areas with an inadequate dental network or obstacles such as transportation, language barriers, or lack of dental insurance. For many children covered by Medicaid, community dental providers may not accept their insurance.
Pain and infection from dental problems can result in impaired nutrition and growth and can contribute to increased school absenteeism. School-based oral health programs help reduce absenteeism and improve the overall health of children, with a particular focus on low-income children, to diminish decades of dental health inequities based on race and ethnicity.
Below are resources to share with parents, educators, or health care professionals to emphasize why good oral health care is essential to overcoming the silent epidemic of dental disease and achieving overall health and lifelong health.
- https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2019/05/10/research-update-a-spotlight-on-childrens-oral-health: This Spotlight on Children’s Oral Health features several studies that identify the link between poor oral health and academic performance for school-aged children, as well as the impact of adult Medicaid dental coverage on oral health utilization in children.
- https://www.mchoralhealth.org/PDFs/issues.pdf The article addresses the prevalence of caries, access to care, children and adolescents with special health care needs, dental sealants, fluoride, nutrition, injury and violence, and tobacco issues related to oral health.
- https://www.mchoralhealth.org/PDFs/learningfactsheet: Oral Health and Learning addresses the impact of poor oral health on learning and school attendance, and recognizes types of programs and policies that positively impact oral health.
- https://frameworksinstitute.org/toolkits/dentaquest: Reframing Oral Health is a Communications Toolkit to help frame why oral health is essential to overall health and wellbeing
- https://www.cthealth.org/publication/dental-sealants: This Connecticut Health Foundation brief highlights why greater dental access reduces health inequities and boosts sealant use among children in the Medicaid program.
- http://frameworksinstitute.org/toolkits/dentaquest/assets/pdf/oral_health_infographics2.pdf This infographic from the Frameworks Institute and Oral Health 2020 illustrates the mouth-body connection. The infographic describes how the health of the mouth impacts other aspects of the mind and body.
- https://www.chawisconsin.org/initiatives/oral-health/wisconsin-oral-health-coalition/ The impact of poor oral health on poor overall health is illustrated in this fact sheet from the Wisconsin Oral Health Coalition.
- https://www.cda.org/Portals/0/pdfs/fact_sheets/oral_health_english.pdf The Fact Sheet from the California Dental Association highlights the connection between oral health and general health.
- https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475 Oral Health: a window to your overall health.
- https://mypenndentist.org/2017/04/05/oral-health-and-mental-health/ Mental-Dental: What’s the Connection Between Oral Health and Mental Health? A cyclical relationship exists between oral health and mental health. Good oral health can enhance mental and overall health, while poor oral health can exacerbate mental issues–and mental conditions can likewise cause oral health issues.
- https://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/championing-oral-health-in-schools The American Dental Association’s Championing Oral Health in Schools guide provides resources to demonstrate the benefits of school-based oral health service and how to champion the issues in the school and community.
- http://americanfluoridationsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/347EC3A6-1155-408F-9B22-5C3B268CD28A.jpeg The American Fluoridation Society produced this infographic to celebrate 75 years of community water fluoridation and explain the oral health benefits of fluoridated water.