"Oral Health in Childhood and Adulthood" is a great example of a paper on dental health. Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease in the United States (Governor’ s Task Force on Children and Oral Health, 2009). Poor oral health has been found to cause pain and infection in children that can result in several issues like difficulty in eating, speaking, playing, or paying attention in school (The Healthy States Initiative, 2008). Research has revealed that children miss about 50 million school hours a year due to dental health issues (The Healthy States Initiative, 2008).
This issue is more pronounced in low-income children who, have been found to lose 12 times more school days due to dental illnesses than children from higher-income families (The Healthy States Initiative, 2008). Since childhood oral health is a strong predictor of adult oral health, there is an immense need to provide screening and preventive services to the underserved children of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Thomson et al. , 2004). Background Information Oral health issues are one of the most preventable, yet prevalent issues, in Oklahoma. Significant improvement can be achieved through fluoridation programs, dental education, tobacco-use prevention programs, dental sealant programs, and regular dental visits.
However, the role of parents in educating and ensuring proper oral health in their children is critical. Joy Rainey, the physical education teacher at Western Village Academy in Oklahoma City, states that “ about half the elementary school’ s students aren’ t taught by parents how to take care of their teeth and mouth” (Governor’ s Task Force on Children and Oral Health, 2009, p. 19). She points out that this is primarily because most of these children are from low-income families who are not able to afford much-needed dental care, or the parents themselves are uneducated about the importance of maintaining proper oral health. Oral health is an important component of the overall health of a child.
However, there is a tremendous disparity between the oral health of high-income and low-income children in the United States. According to a recent oral health assessment, nearly 69.4% of third-graders in Oklahoma have dental caries, which is the highest rate in the country (Oklahoma State Department of Health, 2003).
According to a report prepared by the Governor’ s Taskforce on Children and Oral Health, the rate of dental caries among third-grade children in Oklahoma has been slowly increasing and in 2008 was about 71.5% (2009). The assessment also revealed that the rate of active decay among this group of children is 40.2%, which is also the highest in the country (Oklahoma State Department of Health, 2003). Again, only 37.2% of these third-graders have at least one permanent molar tooth treated with sealants, which is low compared to other states (Oklahoma State Department of Health, 2003).
These statistics reveal the urgent need to address the oral health needs of children in Oklahoma. Based on the Healthy People 2010 initiative developed by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Oklahoma has measurable goals to pursue (Oklahoma State Department of Health, 2003, p. 10). They include: Reduce the proportion of children with dental caries experience in their primary and permanent teeth to 42%. Reduce the proportion of children with untreated dental decay in primary and permanent teeth to 21%. Increase the proportion of children receiving sealants on their molar teeth to 50%. Oklahoma is currently focusing on five major areas of care, which include prevention of dental diseases among children, oral health education programs for parents, improving access to dental care, state disaster response by dentistry, and children with special healthcare needs. Again, there are large regional differences in oral health needs in Oklahoma.
In the north-western region, the rate of dental caries among third-grade children is 43.8%, which is the lowest in the state, while the south-east region has a dental caries rate of 73.8%, the highest in the state (Oklahoma State Department of Health, 2003).
Again, only 16% of third-graders in Oklahoma County have protective sealants, with a 65.3% rate of dental caries (Oklahoma State Department of Health, 2003). Goals and Objectives for the Proposed Dental Program Goal 1: Reduce the current rate of dental caries among underserved children between the ages of 1 and 5 in Oklahoma City. Goals 2: Increase the proportion of children (between the ages of 6 and 10) receiving oral health screening and educational services in rural schools. Objectives for Goal 1: In 6 months, 90% of expectant mothers, who come to the hospital for their regular checkup will be educated about appropriate feeding practices and oral hygiene for newborns and infants. In 3 years, the rate of dental caries among children born to these mothers will be 40% lower than the current rate. Objectives for Goal 2: Within one year, 50% of rural schools in Oklahoma will have a school-based oral health screening and educational service. Within two years, the rate of dental caries among children (6 to 10 years) in these rural schools will be 40% lower than the current rate.
Governor’s Task Force on Children and Oral Health. (2009). Final report [PDF]. Oklahoma
Dental Association. Retrieved from http://www.dentist.state.ok.us/DentalReport2009.pdf
Oklahoma State Department of Health. (2003). Executive summary: Oklahoma oral health needs
Assessment [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.ok.gov/health/documents/Oklahoma %20Oral%20Health%20Needs%20Assessment.pdf
The Healthy States Initiative. (2008). Promoting improved oral health. U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.healthystates.csg.org/ NR/rdonlyres/7977906A-8420-4770-A5C7-5173952742CD/0/ OralHealthLPB _screen.pdf
Thomson, W. M., Poulton, R., Milne, B. J., Caspi, A., Broughton, J. R., & Ayers, K. S. (2004).
Socioeconomic inequalities in oral health in childhood and adulthood in a birth cohort. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 32, 345-353. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2004.00173.x