Collaboration between dentists and doctors in pediatric oral health: A view from a medical magazine and the AAPD

October 14, 2013

Find out about the disconnect between general pediatric care and dental care, and why it's important to collaborate with physicians to improve the overall health of your pediatric patients.

Find out about the disconnect between general pediatric care and dental care, and why it's important to collaborate with physicians to improve the overall health of your pediatric patients.

Contemporary Pediatrics is a sister publication of Dental Products Report within the Advanstar magazine family and is sent out to pediatricians throughout the United States.

The October edition of the magazine contains an article titled, “Children’s Oral Health.” Within the article, there are some very surprising statistics, including the fact that 89 percent of children saw their primary care provider but only 1.5 percent saw a dentist.

Perhaps even more eye-opening to the dental community is the wording in the article’s subhead, “Alarming rates of pediatric dental caries and spotty access to dental professionals are driving basic dental care into the pediatrician’s domain.”

After reading the article, I forwarded it to Dr. Warren Brill, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) to get his thoughts on the article and the state of the relationship between the dental and medical community in terms of pediatric dental care.

Here's what he had to say:

Henry: How does the AAPD see dentists and doctors working together when it comes to pediatric oral health?

Dr. Brill: Both pediatric dentists and pediatricians want our children to reach their maximum potential. This can be very difficult when a child is in pain due to dental disease, i.e., dental caries and abscesses.

It is important that pediatricians understand the importance of normal oral growth and development, proper home care techniques, dietary considerations, and, most importantly, the establishment of a dental home by age 1 or the eruption of the first tooth, whichever comes first.

Henry: The article mentions "high-risk kids" quite often. What is the AAPD doing to reach to help pediatric dentists reach this target audience?

Dr. Brill: The AAPD has formulated a caries risk assessment protocol that helps all clinicians determine which children need extra attention and treatment plans that take this into account. Treatment planning by risk assessment is taught to all predoctoral dental students, as well as pediatric dental residents.

The AAPD sponsors continuing education courses targeting both sets of dentists, not to mention articles in the scientific and clinical literature that promote this concept. Additionally, at the state and local level, constituent societies and individual members give seminars to medical and dental study clubs on this topic.

Henry: What effect does the AAPD see on children's oral health with the Affordable Care Act?

Dr. Brill: The Affordable Care Act has the potential of bringing oral health care to as many as 3 million presently underserved children. In addition, through the various insurance exchanges, families purchasing private insurance will have access to pediatric dental coverage not presently available.

The net effect will be healthier and happier children who will be able to learn and grow without the pain and suffering many presently endure.

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