HPA Magazine 16
Despite improvement observed in recent decades, the prevalence of childhood dental caries in the Portuguese population remains a matter of concern. In fact, this is the most prevalent chronic childhood disease. Contributing to this fact is a cariogenic diet (rich in carbohydrates, especially sugars), a deficit in oral health care or insufficient exposure to fluoride. Myths such as " baby teeth will fall out, they don't need great care", or "a visit to the Dentist is very traumatic for a child" or even "one sweet every day won't hurt" are, unfortunately, still very frequent among parents.
Prevention is the key word when it comes to oral health in general, but is especially true during childhood. Preventive dental treatment that includes fluoride and sealants, as well as correct oral hygiene (brushing, flossing), are effective and must be respected in all life cycles, including the prenatal period.
Aware of all this reality, the HPA Group has been strengthening Paediatric Dentistry in its units. This specialty of Dentistry dedicated to the oral health of babies, children and teenagers, combines both curative and preventive aspects.
With this in mind we have created the HPA Health Group Oral Health Leaflet, which aims to help parents to monitor the oral health of their children over time. This Leaflet should be used as a complement to the child’s Health Card, as part of the child's health monitoring routine.
It is issued ideally, during the future mother’s pre-natal appointment. Advice not only on how to maintain oral health during pregnancy, but also care of the new-born infant´s oral health as soon after birth as possible, such as cleaning of the oral mucosa and gums with gauze soaked in warm water, after breastfeeding.
The information that follows is a record of dental appointments for children aged 0-12 years, divided into 8 sections: 0-6 months, 6 months-1 year; 1 year - 1 ½ years; from 1 ½ - 2 years; 3-5 years, 5-9 years, 9-12 years. All sections include information on the various stages of the child's tooth eruption, as well as advice on nutrition and oral hygiene appropriate for each age.
In case the child needs dental treatment, the Oral Health Leaflet will allow the Dentist to outline a correct treatment plan, facilitating the explanation of the treatment to the parent, according to priority and also the associated costs.
After each dental treatment, the Dentist will record which teeth were treated, type of treatment and how many teeth were treated.
The Oral Health Leaflet is a reminder and control of regular visits to the dentist which in addition to permitting an early diagnosis of dental problems, regular visits also demystify fears and anxiety often associated with going to the dentist.
However, in situations where regular visits are insufficient to allay fears and to reassure the child, our units are equipped with Conscious Sedation equipment. This consists of inhaling a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen (Livopan) that has the effect of calming and relaxing, while maintaining the child awake.
The Oral Health Leaflet is fundamentally an educational and motivational document for families, which will make prevention and behaviour change the key to a better oral health in children.
We believe that this Leaflet will make a difference in children health who are monitored by the HPA Health Group and we dare to say that, within a decade, the dental treatment needed in this age group will be substantially reduced and less invasive.
As a Dentist, I feel great satisfaction and enthusiasm in joining this project of the HPA Health Group. We will also rely on your collaboration for the success of the Oral Health Leaflet.