The Importance of the “First Dental Home” Program
We will address the issue related to the Dental Home Program established by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAPD) to move forward on the goal of achieving an optimal oral health and life quality of the population, ensuring dental services for every child up to three (3) years of age, including those with special needs and for those who are unattended, who require such care, regardless of their economic and social status. The reason for the existence of the Dental Home is because it has been statistically shown that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, reaching up to more than 60% of cases before the age of five. That is, sixty (60) of every hundred (100) children suffer from this disease in their primary teeth. It has also been noted the increase of tooth decay in older children, since according to statistics, in children from 11 to 17 years this present up to 90% of tooth decay in permanent teeth.
What is the Scope of Dental Home?
"Dental Home" is a personalized program that is based on an excellent and ongoing relationship between the patient, his / her family and the pediatric dentist, to provide preventive and therapeutic dental services to the child in order to assess the risk of tooth decay, take the necessary preventive or corrective measures and to provide him/her instructions related to hygiene and dental health diet. At the Dental Home preventive measures are taken with the purpose of improving the protective factors such as the application of fluoride, the dietary change and the dental hygiene. The necessary protective treatments such as sealants, therapeutic interventions, etc. are also conducted. In addition to these personalized services that are performed at the Dental Clinic, a dental education plan is established with the patient and his / her family in order to change their dental hygiene habits.
Here are some basic instructions and recommendations as a general illustration:
- The AAPD recommends that the first visit to your pediatric dentist must be between six (6) to twelve (12) months of age, even though the first tooth has not yet been noticed.
- Clean the gums on a daily basis, even if there are no teeth yet, with gauze moistened with water. Also clean the tongue and the palate. A special thimble can be found available on the pharmacies. The idea is to remove any milk deposits that have remained in the oral cavity and that can cause the growth of a fungus called candidiasis.
- When the little teeth appear, even if they are only two of them, they must be brushed or cleaned with toothpaste containing fluorine, but only a little bit of the same size as a single rice bean. When all the little teeth are out at two or three years, you can increase the dose of fluoride toothpaste to the size of a chickpea or a bean.
- As saliva is a very important factor for the conservation of teeth and its production decreases when sleeping at night, we must brush our teeth before going to bed.
- If you notice a white chalky spot, take note and go to the pediatric dental visit, because that is erosion and is the beginning of tooth decay. If it is attended on time, the tooth can be re-mineralized and saved. Otherwise, the black spots, sensitivity and pain characteristic of the unpleasant and dangerous tooth decay will appear.
- Reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and the sweet foods, carbohydrates and flours. They are a permanent source of food for bacteria that produce cavities.
- Follow the same recommendations for the case of children with special needs, with the care they require as the case may be. When parents ask for a pediatric dentist appointment, report that it is a child with special needs so that appropriate measures can be taken in the practice to make the dental treatment less traumatic.
In conclusion, parents should become aware of what Dental Home means and adopt it as a health habit for the whole family, beginning with the child's first visit to the pediatric dentist within his first twelve (12) months of age. To leave it for later can harm his health, his esteem and even his social life when they are older and teenagers.