Dental Home is a concept, not a brick and mortar house. “The dental home is the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient…” and dentists add, it is “inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way.”
Often in a practice dedicated to being your dental home, we find that we must address issues of the day. Additionally, we also answer questions on matters other than teeth for parents and caregivers. Likewise, we also find answers for inquisitive and precocious children. Many medical practices and indeed, many companies at this time are re-evaluating their vision for the future.
Providing a Dental Home of Inclusion, Safety and Advocacy
We have learned that nothing is taboo in a dental office. Families talk about everything. And likewise, people worry about the issues of the day. Certainly, even children worry and wonder with their big eyes and their innocent souls wide open.
That must be why we received a “Message from the Presidents of the AAPD and AAPD Foundation” last month. (So, please note that much of this visionary information is from a special message. It was written by Jessica Y. Lee, D.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry)
The message speaks for all pediatric dentists. Certainly, this helps us formulate a clear vision of policy for our commitments and our missions of advocacy in every dental home.
A Troubling Time
Anyone who saw the news surrounding George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis had to relate to it with shock and heartbreak. In the aftermath, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry made this statement. “The AAPD and the AAPD Foundation denounce acts of racism and violence that have and continue to occur across our nation.”
Then, pediatric dentists proclaimed, “The AAPD’s vision is optimal oral health for all children.” And we backed it up by saying, “The AAPD Foundation is focused on providing a dental home for every child who currently lacks one.”
This Dental Home Stands for Certain Inalienable Rights and Beliefs
We are the first to agree that “While “America has come a long way in becoming a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society…”
Again, we hope you won’t think it is taboo to blog about such matters. However, we think it is important that here at Dentistry for Children,
1. We appreciate differences.
2. None of our staff fears differences.
3. This is only fair: We treat all children regardless of race, religion, or family income.
We know you will be surprised to know that the AAPD Foundation has provided more than $6.2 million “in recent years. We at Dentistry for Children are pleased to be a small part in “helping community-based clinics provide dental homes to a diverse array of 550,000 under-served children.”
Pediatric Dentists: Always Advocates for Children’s Rights
Whereas teeth are the purview of pediatric dentists, we also look at the big picture in the world. We are aware that your dental home is only a small part of your world. However, as a family, we believe our children and yours, “deserve to grow up in a just and fair society.”
- To that concept, we of the AAPD have focused our advocacy “on programs that provide dental insurance for low-income families.”
- We know programs like Medicaid are absolutely imperfect. However, within our advocacy group, we continuously strive to improve and reform them.
To put it briefly, we believe pediatric dentists are a broad and diverse community. And did you know our pediatric dental residents are well trained, bright, talented, and compassionate? Residents and doctors alike seek to create safe dental homes of emotional warmth, safety and health for all children. And so do our office personnel, hygienists and assistants. Did you know our profession is a world leader in gender equality?
More about Our Vision Vs. Reality
In the future, the world we would like to see would feature educational opportunities that are equal for all. We see the reality around us, and “we,” as pediatric dentists, constantly advocate ways to help change it for the better.
For example, in many areas, children are held back due to a wide variety of challenges:
- The little ones face inadequate schools…
- Children often deal with a lack of family support in their little endeavors…
- Sometimes this means they do not get healthy nutrition…
- Likewise, we are aware that many of our young ones deal daily with a “lack of safe neighborhoods, racism, and sadly, in some cases, dangerous encounters with the police.”
Your Dental Home: Part of Your Child’s Voice
Pediatric dentists have always been advocates for children’s health. “As child advocates, we must be their voice. Our mission for well over a generation has been to remove dental disease from the list of inequalities that prevent children from becoming all they can be.”
And those are fine words, because a little thing like a decayed tooth can lead to facial infection, brain infection, and even death.
That might seem like a small goal, but only a few years ago, in 2017, tooth decay, (caries) was an epidemic by itself.
A Few Fearsome Dental Facts
In 2017, Dr. Paul Reggiardo, DDS, made this statement. Dental decay “is the most untreated and the most common problem that affects kids’ health.” Likewise, “According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a 2011 survey found that more than 15 percent of American children aged 5-19 had untreated cavities.”
It became known that “Tooth decay is four times more common in adolescents than asthma…” (These are the facts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).)
Dental Homes All Over the US: Accomplishing Challenging Goals
Bit by bit, one child at a time, we are changing these statistics. We sincerely believe that a healthy mouth means a healthy child. And good dental habits can last a lifetime.
“These are not easy challenges, but we all must work together to overcome them.”
What Pediatric Dentists are Doing
Pediatric dentists are establishing dental homes all over the US–and more:
- But in addition to their business, some dentists even “Mentor or tutor children in need, especially those of different racial and ethnic backgrounds…” Others volunteer at schools in and outside of their own communities.
- Many are involved either directly or indirectly in advocating “for water fluoridation.”
- Likewise we all delight in talking to our young patients about careers in this field.
Each dental home, each pediatric dentist “follows their own path. However, they are united in opposing racism and promoting a just and fair society.” For more about the Dental Home and when you should establish it with a visit to your pediatric dentist, see this helpful online resource.
Thank you for reading our blog. Please return and help us fight the battle to keep our children’s teeth and body strong and healthy.