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Dentists, Pediatricians in Wisconsin Launch Collaboration to Improve Children’s Oral Health

February 23, 2015 

Dentists and pediatricians in Wisconsin this month launched a new collaborative effort to reduce tooth decay among children, particularly those in low-income families.

The Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA) and the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (WIAAP) are encouraging their members to regularly conduct oral health assessments of infants and other young patients, apply fluoride varnish as needed during medical checkups and educate parents about the importance of good nutrition and good dental health, according to Dr. Paul Levine, president of the state dental association. Pediatricians are also encouraged to refer patient families to WDA-member dentists for comprehensive dental care.

“Pediatricians are often the first line of defense against early childhood cavities and can help guide children as young as one year to a dental home, ensuring they have a lifetime of healthy, pain-free smiles,” said Dr. Levine.

The collaboration is timely because each February, the ADA and state dental societies sponsor National Children's Dental Health Month, a national health observance that brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, other healthcare providers and educators to promote the benefits of good dental health habits to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.

Nationally, nearly one in four children under the age of five already has cavities, and tooth decay, which is almost entirely preventable, is five times more common than asthma in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Dental Association recommends that when a child’s first tooth appears, parents talk to their dentist about scheduling the first dental visit.

Results from a survey conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services during the 2012-13 school year indicate that 53 percent of third-grade children have had cavities, while more than 18 percent had untreated dental decay, according to the state dental association.

“This collaboration is essential to advancing WIAAP’s mission to help all Wisconsin children and their families have optimal health and well-being, while providing support and education to our members,” said WIAAP President Dr. Jeffrey Britton.