Nicole Hahn, a hygenist of 21 years, said! “Dental Health Month has arrived!  I have seen a lot of good and bad changes in our dental health.  The one thing I know for sure, as I now serve as a public health hygienist in our school systems, the kids I see are learning so much more about just brushing their teeth.  I get to teach them about the mouth body connection, what we drink, eat and even how we breath affects our overall health.”

The most common condition among children is largely preventable! According to the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry), dental caries/cavities are four times more common than childhood asthma and three times more likely than childhood obesity. “As a dental hygienist, NCDHM is a great opportunity to spread the word about how poor oral health and caries impact our kids’ health and quality of life,” Hahn said.

AAPD recently released their State of Little Teeth Report in 2021, which examines the epidemic of tooth decay children. 

The following are key stats from the Report:

• Tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease affecting children in the United States and is on the rise, but it is largely preventable.

• The rate of tooth decay in baby teeth of children aged 2 to 5 years increased nearly 17 percent from 1988-1994 to 1999-2004.

• By age 5 about 60 percent of children will be affected by tooth decay.

• Children with oral health problems are THREE TIMES more likely to miss school due to dental pain than children with no oral health problems.

• APD recommends taking a child for their first dental visit by the age of 1.5

• Delaying dental care to age 2 or 3 can have a negative impact on a child’s oral health. 40 percent of parents and caregivers surveyed are delaying their child’s first visit until after age 2.6

“I hear often from parents and caregivers that they are just baby teeth, but did you know that the disease process will affect the teeth coming into the mouth along with the inflammation that comes with the disease is affecting how our kids eat, sleep and function during the day,” Hahn said.

Adults should know the rule of 2;  brush twice daily for 2 min. floss or WaterPik twice daily. “We really don’t care if it is floss!  Floss picks and toothpicks are great, and see the dental hygienist/dentist twice a year! Dentists screen for so much more than most people know.  Full medical histories are reviewed along with medications, and they can help find interactions and refer further for consult. Blood pressure checks as well as blood sugars are taken at many offices, including head and neck cancer screenings. 

These basic steps can prevent many different cancers, diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, nutrition disorders as well as bad breath, tooth loss, jawbone loss and cavities (literal holes in the teeth).

To those in the dental prefession, our mouth is the ‘window to the body’. I encourage to you start this year with good overall health and that starts with good dental health,” Hahn said.

Nicole S. Hahn RDH, BS