Improving Oral Health Care During Children's Dental Health Month According To American Dental Hygienists' Association

Feb 11, 2000, 00:00 ET from American Dental Hygienists' Association

    CHICAGO, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- More than half of all children ages 6-8
 and two-thirds of all adolescents age 15 have dental decay, according to the
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
     February is National Children's Dental Health Month, a great time to focus
 on improving oral health care for the nation's children who suffer from
 serious oral health diseases, says Lisa B. Potter, RDH, president of the
 American Dental Hygienists' Association.  "I encourage all consumers to
 support the many dental hygienist-sponsored activities planned throughout the
 country during the month."
     Dental hygienists strive daily to educate the public about the importance
 of preventive oral care; however, in February, a special emphasis is made to
 get this information directly to school-age children and their parents.  Past
 dental hygienist activities aimed at increasing awareness in America's
 children have included oral health presentations at schools, toothbrush
 distributions and sealant applications -- placement of a plastic coating on
 permanent back teeth to prevent bacteria from collecting in small crevices.
     Potter points to federal data that affirm that while the percentage of
 children who experience tooth decay has remained fairly consistent, the
 percentage of children with decay who receive treatment has dropped.  She adds
 that it is estimated that 5-10 percent of young children have baby bottle
 tooth decay, a severe form of tooth decay, and this percentage triples for
 children of "low income" families.
     Potter cites government statistics that indicates for every child in
 America who does not have medical insurance there are 2.6 children who do not
 have dental insurance.  According to the National Health Interview Survey
 (1995), 36 percent of U.S. children -- about 27 million -- have no dental
     "The good news is that this year, the U.S. Surgeon General will release a
 special report on the state of America's oral health and that new federal
 funds for children's health insurance has been directed to dental programs,"
 says Potter.  In addition, the Surgeon General's Conference on Children and
 Oral Health will be held June 12-13, 2000, in Washington, DC, to bring
 attention to the impact oral health has on children's overall health and well
 being, and to discuss promoting actions to eliminate disparities in children's
 oral health.  Potter agrees with the U.S. Surgeon General that disparity in
 children's oral health is everyone's problem.
     ADHA is the largest national organization representing the professional
 interests of the more than 100,000 licensed dental hygienists across the
     Dental hygienists are preventive oral health professionals, licensed in
 dental hygiene, who provide educational, clinical and therapeutic services
 that support total health through the promotion of optimal oral health.
     If you would like additional oral health information and National
 Children's Dental Health Month activities in your community, visit the ADHA
 Web site at or call the organization toll free at 1-800-847-6718.

SOURCE American Dental Hygienists' Association