What price are you willing to place on your children’s teeth?
We invest in our kids. There are the usual things: clothes, food, and school. We equip them with all kinds of technology which includes cell phones and computers, but investing in their teeth seems to be another story. I was surprised to read an article that highlighted an issue that our children are not receiving preventive care for their teeth. I was flabbergasted at the number of children missing out on care which could prevent bigger problems for them in the future.
Let me throw out some numbers for you to process, by way of a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC:
Approximately 23% of children aged 2-11 years have at least one primary tooth with untreated decay and 20% of adolescents aged 12-19 year have at least one permanent tooth with untreated decay.*
Untreated decay=cavity. When we use the word cavity, people seem to feel that it is not a big deal. “Oh it’s JUST a cavity. It’s not hurting.” But cavities left untreated will continue to get bigger and bigger until the decayed portion eats away at tooth structure, can cause pain, broken teeth, and worse, infection.
A systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that dental sealants reduce decay in permanent molars by 81% approximately 2 years after placement and continue to be effective up to 4.5 years after placement. *
81% reduction in decay/cavities by placing a sealant on the chewing surface of the tooth! Prevention is what we believe, teach, and preach here at the office. It is so important to protect tooth structure. Yet for some reason parents are not taking advantage of this simple procedure. How can parents leave without scheduling an appointment to place sealants on their kiddo’s teeth? The main reason I hear repeatedly is THE COST. A study by the CDC addressed several issues which could help explain the lack of preventative care for children. Let’s see if you agree that these could be obstacles to healthcare:
- Lack of dental insurance,
- If dental insurance is available, the out-of-pocket costs compared to medical expenses were more expensive.
And this is what the study found,
In 2009, the total dental expenses for U.S. children aged 5-7 years were approximately $20 billion (5), accounting for 17.7% of all health-care expenses among this age group (6). Approximately 40% of dental costs were paid out of pocket (5), compared with 17% for medical care (6). Approximately one fourth of U.S. children do not have dental insurance (private or public) (7). The types of services covered by dental insurance vary widely by plan, but typically have higher copayments and lower annual limits than services covered by medical insurance (8). *
In relation to cost, preventive care is usually less costly than restorative treatment. Or another way to put that is, fluoride varnish and sealants placed on teeth will be less expensive than a filling, root canal, or crown. An added bonus to not having to pay for the more expensive restorative procedures is that tooth structure was saved! Plus, another child did not have to have to have an injection or feel anxious about having “work” done on them. There is also less time spent away from school and school activities. Those are all good things to keep in mind when “preventive care” is presented at the recall appointment.
I have used a number of statistics from the CDC study, and I encourage you to visit the site for EVEN MORE information about the health of our children. Go to *http://www.cdc.gov/childpreventiveservices/ and click on the * FULL REPORT http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/other/su6302.pdf. The information is very informative about medical and dental issues concerning our kids.
If you have children and have questions about preventive care such as sealants, fluoride varnish, or rinses, call our office or your dental provider and get as much information as possible about those important services.
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KEEP BRUSHING AND KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!