For many, oral health is the one facet we tend to overlook. You’ve heard countless times in your life to brush twice daily, floss once daily, and avoid sugary drinks for fear of cavities. However this problem continues to escalate, especially in Missouri. Missouri is ranked 42nd nationally in terms of residents who regularly visit a dentist yearly, and another 11% of Missourians have never even seen a dentist (Carroll, 2014, 1). While there are several problems involved with poor oral health the outlook for assistance is promising.
There is a consistent lack of effort when it comes to oral health. Missouri itself has been placed in the lower half of prevention. For instance,
“The Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States issued a report card that graded all 50 states based on eight benchmarks that they consider important steps to improve and expand access to dental health. While 27 states merited grades of B or above, the state of Missouri received a grade of C, having met or exceeded only half of those benchmarks.” (Frosh, 2012, 5).
According to Dr. Rosie Roldan, “Prevention is key…We want to see them early, teach about properly brushing teeth and give fluoride supplementation to get fluoride incorporated into the teeth, if needed.” (Cordle, 2014, 2). All of the above tips can help sustain enamel and ensure that the person’s oral health is well maintained. Furthermore, “tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease affecting more than 1 in 4 children ages 2-5 and 1 in 2 adolescents ages 12-15.” (Carroll, 2014, 1). It’s imperative that this problem be dealt with otherwise the already alarming amount of dental problems will only increase. Dental visits are not only crucial for children but for adults as well. In fact recent research has found a link between periodontal (gum) disease and/or poor oral health and a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke in addition to Alzheimer’s disease (Cordle, 2014, 2). Therefore keeping good oral health habits will help to better you in other areas of health as you get older.
"Just as the barriers to improved oral health status differ from population to population and community to community, so must the solutions we design to overcome these barriers. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to addressing the issues that impede individuals from achieving optimal oral health."(Frosh, 2012, 3).
Though oral health is a concern it can be easily preventable. If children can be taught properly how to floss and how long to brush then positive oral health habits will carry on into adulthood. To add to this, oral problems, like toothaches and gum infections, result in kids missing a total of 51 million school hours, and their parents losing 25 million work hours a year (Katz, 2014, 2). Helping kids prevent oral health problems will keep them in school as well as saving several dollars on treatments like cavities and root canals. It has also been cited by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, “the importance of brushing, flossing and visiting a dentist regularly, starts in infancy.” (Cordle, 2014, 2). Giving mothers and soon-to-be mothers the information to help them better their children is also highly beneficial to their oral health in the future.
Limited access and increased awareness: these are the biggest barriers facing oral health practices today. With allocating funds towards dentistry as well as educating those most vulnerable for dental disparities (children and soon-to-be mothers) we can hope to reduce the problem and create a more sound awareness towards oral health practices.
Carroll, A. (2014). Introducing ToothText. Kirksville, MO. NEMO Missouri Health Council.
Cordle, I. P. (2014, February 4). Brushing up on Oral care.http://www.thespec.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014, from http://www.thespec.com/living-story/4348886-brushing-up-on-oral-care/
Frosh, W. (2012). Missouri's Oral Health: Understanding and Overcoming Barriers to Oral Health Access. http://hcfgkc.org. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://hcfgkc.org/sites/default/files/documen
Aldridge, Alison (2012). What is Gingivitis - Causes, Symptoms, Treatments. http://www.findmydentist.com/articles/what-is-gingivitis--causes-symptoms-treatments.html
Katz, H. (2014, February 3). February is National Children's Dental Health Month. http://www.therabreath.com. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.therabreath.com/articles/news/oral-care-industry-news/february-is-national-childrens-dental-health-month-32811.asp