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Aside from their convenience, the Benefits Of Online Learning: 1 – Virtual School Does Not Require A Student To Be Physically Present 1/20/2016
(June, 2016) According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Dental disease is the number one health problem in children under age five. It includes cavities, hemorrhoids, dental caries, periodontal disease, and as the most common cause of preventable dental disease in children ages 5-17, tooth decay.” Sadly, although overall 1 in 3 children will develop a cavity by age 18, the incidence of tooth decay remains steady,
Currently, at least 80% of children develop cavities by the age of 3-4 years,
Approximately 1-in-3 children between 5 and 7 years old will need treatment at some point,
Approximately two-thirds of adults have tooth decay and tooth loss.
As we see with many problems, dental health is often intertwined with behavioral health as well as socio-economic factors. Early on, for example, these issues are not treated as top priorities and can develop into serious dental issues.
It is important to recognize that reading the above descriptions of dental issues can raise concerns about the “why” of it. Are “some” children more susceptible to certain health issues than others? Are adults more likely to exhibit particular health symptoms? It is important to understand not just the why of problems but what can be done to prevent them.
Regardless of the risk factors and the cause, however, without proper access to proper dental care, dental health becomes less favorable. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that children under 18 years of age and adults 65 years and older receive high-quality dental care for their own and their child’s oral health.
Although all minors do have access to good public dental health, access to dental care varies dramatically between states, cities, and community partners. Public dental providers like schools and institutions in communities have done a great job in providing these services. For most American children, though, access to such an element of preventive health is generally limited.
In contrast, there are other options for children to receive a better first step in getting dental care. One method is private non-medical schools in which students are chosen for their academic ability and training. These schools offer flexible classes that focus on the prevention and treatment of oral health issues. Furthermore, they include dental staff in their program that can provide a comprehensive understanding of issues as well as lead the students through a series of fun, interactive clinics.
One company that is well versed in this area, CaseScript, describes the missions of these schools:
“Parents and students are encouraged to participate in school-based dental health education programs including classroom education, family sessions, media advocacy, and social media outreach. Community leaders and service providers collaborate with students and parents to increase public awareness, cut infection rates, and combat tooth decay. Participating families take home brochures, which offer additional information on preventive measures to be taken at home, at work, and at play. A curriculum of fresh oral health facts is presented weekly that focuses on healthy eating habits, maintaining adequate personal oral hygiene, and healthy skin. Early exposure to novel oral health information benefits the development of lifelong habits and immunizations. Practice is extended to help students achieve and maintain fluency in oral communication. The curriculum also incorporates Web 3 learning to develop and maintain visual literacy, learning computer and logical reasoning skills, and communication skills as well as technical vocabulary. Students who enjoy learning are encouraged to take advantage of the class’ curriculum. For students who develop academic skill, participating in class provides a peer support mechanism with another student who is interested in the same things. Because lessons are offered in English and Spanish, students benefit from increased access to oral health information in the English-language. Finally, as oral health is a life health issue, available classes address topics such as the importance of brushing and flossing, the “dirty” toothbrush problem, and general dental health.”
While all of this is helpful, it does not solve the problem by itself. The facts above show that a comprehensive approach to all areas of oral health is needed. However, learning about not just a school’s services for children, but how all of our efforts to prevent preventable dental problems works together, is the key to making dentistry more accessible to children and adults.