Candy is the undeniable star of Halloween, but don’t let it be a scary one. This Halloween, keep in mind that prevention and regular dental care is key to good oral health, which plays an important role in the health of the whole body.
Many health conditions have been linked to poor oral health, including heart disease; stroke and blood clots; respiratory disease; and diabetes. This is especially true for children. Three out of five children, or 60 percent, have tooth decay. This affects more children than diabetes, obesity, asthma, autism or cancer.
Prevention is the name of the game at all ages, but it is especially important for children ages 6 to 12, when baby teeth give way to permanent teeth. Help children avoid painful dental problems by teaching habits and routines that will be practiced no matter the special holiday or occasion.
Here are five tips for a healthy smile:
- Brush at least twice per day, and floss daily.
- Make dental visits part of your child’s regular health routine.
- Talk to your dentist about dental sealants for your child’s teeth. A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. The sealant can protect teeth from cavities. Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth. Sealants protect these areas by “sealing out” food, plaque and bacteria from invading teeth and causing further damage. Staywell, WellCare’s Medicaid plan in my home state of Florida, covers dental sealants. To learn about WellCare’s pediatric dental coverage in your state visit WellCare.com.
- Fluoride varnish is another protective measure that parents can take. Fluoride varnish is a liquid that is painted on teeth. This is also covered by Staywell. Fluoride is a mineral that can make teeth strong. It can prevent decay, or keep decay from getting worse. Fluoride varnish should be put on a child’s tooth because cavities can begin as soon as each tooth comes in. Fluoride varnish is applied to the tops and sides of each tooth with a small brush. This procedure is painless and takes only a few minutes.
- Establish a dental home. A dental home is a dental office where families can get regular and continuous dental care. Children who have a dental home are more likely to get the care they need because patients get to know the dentist and dental hygienists, and early and regular preventive care and services are promoted.
Dr. Richard Goren, is senior vice president and chief dental officer for LIBERTY Dental Plan. With a vast majority of its membership enrolled in government-sponsored programs, LIBERTY is recognized as a specialist in administering dental care for Medicaid, SCHIP and Medicare beneficiaries. It is committed to promoting high-quality standards for key components of wellness, disease, case management, and care coordination programs as well as support services and materials.