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Does Your Back-to-School Checklist Include Dental Health?

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014   

JACKSON, Ohio - Along with pencils and pens, experts say good dental care should also be a part of the back-to-school checklist.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates more than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to students' dental-related problems. RSVP of the Ohio Valley provides health and nutrition services for area residents, and director Susan Rogers says children need preventive care to avoid more challenging dental issues down the road.

"They need to have fluoride treatments, good brushing habits, all those things," says Rogers. "If we get ahead of it now they're not going to have to get root canals, fillings, implants, partials and dentures as they go through their lives."

Rogers says some Ohio communities have a shortage of dental providers, leaving families on long waiting lists. She adds access could be expanded through the use of mid-level providers, who work under the supervision of a dentist, providing preventive dental services, fillings and routine extractions. It's estimated almost 340,000 Ohio children have never been to a dentist.

During the course of their summer meals program, Rogers says she saw many children with dental problems. She met one young boy with caps on some of his teeth and unable to eat an ear of corn.

"His mom said he really needs to get caps on all the rest of his teeth, but they just haven't been able to make that happen," says Rogers. "It just broke my heart that this little guy couldn't enjoy corn on the cob because he already has issues with his little mouth."

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, tooth decay is the most preventable disease in children, yet more than half of Ohio's children experience dental decay by third grade. Rogers says they are working to educate the community on the importance of oral health.

"To be part of a healthier lifestyle we want to be sure we don't forget dental needs," says Rogers. "Taking care of the body and all of those great prevention things always includes dental health, as well as physical and emotional health."

There are current efforts to update the state's dental practice laws to include mid-level dental providers.


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