From age 1, kids need a dental home
To the editor:
Thank you for the April 2 article "Docs learn how to prevent tooth decay at presentation" which described southern Vermont primary care physicians and pediatricians learning about the prevalence of dental decay in their youngest patients and how it can be prevented.
Early Childhood Caries (tooth decay) is the most common chronic, infectious disease in children under age 5. As it said in the article, "When kids have cavities their teeth hurt, they don't sleep as well. they don't learn as well. They don't grow as well because they don't eat as well." The good news is with early assessment, intervention, and parental education, Early Childhood Caries is totally preventable.
That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (the governing body of Pediatricians), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, the American Dental Association, and all government health associations recommend that all children visit a dentist by age 1.
Though it is important that physicians are aware of the problem and recommend preventive strategies such as fluoride supplements and varnish it is even more important that, again according to the AAP guidelines, the physician should "Refer a child for an oral health examination by a dentist who provides care for infants and young children by 12 months of age, establishing the child's dental home."
As pediatric dentists serving southern Vermont, neighboring New York, northwest Connecticut, and all of Berkshire County, we have found that just as baby visits to the doctor are an integral part of patient care, the age 1 visit to the dentist is a game changer when it comes to preventing children's most common disease — tooth decay — and even more importantly, teaching the parents an easy daily routine that can lay the foundation for a lifetime of dental health. The feedback from parents following the age 1 visit has been enthusiastic, supportive, and appreciative.
So again, thank you for the article and congratulations to the Vermont doctors who attended the presentation. Our children are precious. It is essential to start early with primary care health professionals, including establishing a Dental Home by age 1.
Steven Yarmosky DDS, Louis Yarmosky DDS, Lauren Ballinger DDS, Pittsfield, Great Barrington The writers practice at Yarmosky Pediatric Dentistry in Pittsfield and Great Barrington.