Hawaii Dental Service says keiki dental check-ups a must ahead of back-to-school rush
It’s summer, and with many children out of school, it’s a good time to schedule a dental visit before the hectic back-to-school rush. A check-up helps parents and children identify tooth decay or other oral health conditions early, which helps to keep students in class during the school year.
Dr. Gavin Uchida is a pediatric dentist and administrator of the HDS Foundation and says a dental check-up is just as important as a physical. “Poor oral health can impact children in other areas of their development,” he explains. “There can be poor speech articulation, a reluctance to smile, and low-self esteem if tooth decay is left untreated.” The sooner a dentist can detect a problem and offer solutions, the better off children will be.
The role of a dentist is to serve as a coach for better health. A visit may involve a thorough check-up of a child’s teeth and gums, x-rays, cleaning or the application of sealants to help avoid tooth decay. If a dentist finds cavities, it’s important to take care of the problem and provide instruction on proper flossing and brushing to avoid cavities in the future.
Parents also play a critical role in shaping their children’s perceptions of a dentist. If mom or dad talks about a negative experience they may have had, this creates unnecessary anxiety and fear in a child. It’s also important that parents never use a dentist visit as a threat or punishment for a child who does not floss and brush regularly. Setting a positive tone for a dentist visit is the best way to help ensure children have a good experience.
As children get older, they become more vulnerable to a number of oral health problems. If teens participate in sports, they should wear protective mouth guards to protect their teeth. They should also understand the adverse impact of smoking and vaping, chewing tobacco, consuming sugary drinks, and other activities that can do great damage to teeth and gums.
If a child doesn’t have a dentist, the best way to find one in Hawaii is through word of mouth. Find out who other parents are comfortable with and consider making an appointment for your child with that dentist. The HDS website also allows you to find a dentist by geographical location, name, or specialty.
Teach keiki about good dental health during Tooth Fairy Fun Day
Get the family together and head to the 15th Annual Tooth Fairy Fun Day at the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center on Sunday, February 17, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the Hawaii Dental Service (HDS) holds this event so that families can have some fun while also teaching keiki how to better take care of their teeth.
Families can take part in games and educational activities themed around oral health. These include ways to teach kids that brushing and flossing aren’t just good for them, but they’re also fun too! And of course, kids will have the opportunity to meet the Tooth Fairy herself!
Dentists will also be at the event offering free dental screenings for children. The screenings help parents understand the importance of their children’s teeth and how to keep them clean and healthy. During a screening, dentists will take a quick look at their teeth and gums and share tips on maintaining good oral health.
Getting children excited to brush their teeth every day may seem daunting, but teaching keiki the importance of a healthy smile is crucial. Hawaii’s children still rank at the bottom of the nation when it comes to good oral health, and they have the highest prevalence of tooth decay. Tooth Fairy Fun Day is one of the ways HDS is trying to change this — with the goal of getting Hawaii’s children to associate good oral health with total body health.
Admission to Tooth Fairy Fun Day is free for the first 500 HDS members and 500 Medicaid members — just bring your Hawaii Dental Service (HDS) or Medicaid card. HDS is also offering all families discounted admission of $7.
About Hawaii Dental Service (HDS)
Hawaii Dental Service is the first and largest nonprofit dental service corporation in Hawaii providing dental benefit plans to more than a half million members. More than 95% of all licensed, practicing dentists in Hawaii participate with HDS, creating the largest network of dentists in the state.
Helping Hawaii teens rethink sugary drinks
Sugary drinks are the number one source of excess calories in our diets, according to the Hawaii Dept. of Health. Drinking them too often can lead to serious health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes along with oral health problems. Hawaii’s teens are consuming more sugary drinks than any other age group, averaging almost nine per week, which can cause up to 10 lbs. of weight gain in a year. One way you can take action now? Have a glass of water instead of that can of soda or sugary coffies and energy drinks!
More information: www.RethinkYourDrinkHI.com
Hate getting cavities filled? SDF is minimally invasive dentistry.
here’s a tool to help prevent cavities that’s getting more and more attention. It’s called Silver Diamine Fluoride or SDF and can be used on adults and kids who don’t like to have their teeth drilled and filled at the dentist. Here are some reasons why the treatment might be right for you.
To learn more, visit the Hawaii Dental Hygiene Association’s at HDHA.NET
Free non-emergency dental care available in Honolulu to people without insurance
If you find yourself in excruciating pain from a toothache, don’t go to the emergency room. Aloha Medical Mission provides non-emergency dental care for free to anyone.
For more information: alohamedicalmission.org,
Prenatal Dental Care for Kids
The Hawaii Dept. of Health stresses that taking care of your child’s teeth starts before they’re even born. The American Dental Association recommends children see a dentist before they reach their first birthday for preventive care and to detect any problem areas early. Dr. Gavin Uchida, dental director with the Hawaii Dept. of Health, and Dr. Emilie Sumida, a dentist who practices in Wailuku, Maui, give us insights about the importance of early care for children’s teeth.
Improving dental care for Native Hawaiians
Having healthy teeth and gums have a direct impact on your overall health. While some people don’t realize this, others merely can’t afford the high cost of dental care. Native Hawaiians experience the most disparities in oral health, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health. The agency is working with partners, like Papa Ola Lokahi, to take action in changing this.
For more information: papaolalokahi.org,
Department of Health Leads Statewide Oral Health Screening
Reported by Wayne Yoshioka, Oct 17, 2017
A statewide coalition of health professionals, educators, business and community representatives are teaming up to record oral health data in Hawai’i. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
Two years ago, the state Department of Health, Hawai’i Smiles Report, confirmed that 71 percent of 3rd graders had tooth decay, nearly one third were untreated and 7 percent were in need of urgent dental care. Today, a statewide oral health screening project is being launched to build on those findings. Dr. Gavin Uchida is the Health Department’s Dental Director.
“Over the next 4 months we’re gonna be screening every child who’s enrolled in a Head Start or an Early Head Start Center and we’re looking in their mouths and looking and seeing with our own eyes what their rates of pathology are related to dental cavities. And where areas in the state people are having treatment and kids are being seen and where they’re not being seen.”
Uchida says the data will used to educate lawmakers and help communities develop prevention strategies. A total of 3-thousand Early Head Start and Head Start students from birth to age 5 will be participating in oral screening statewide. The first location is The Towers at Kuhio Park with 100 students.
“Go Ahhh. Really big.”
Demi Pham, a first year pediatric dentistry resident is doing the screening. U-H School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene Assistant Professor, Deborah Mattheus, completes the diagnosis.
“This is Rea. She’s 3 years old. And the dental exam showed she didn’t have any untreated decay, no arrested decay and no treated decay. So the parents will get an information sheet that says that they had their screening today. So she actually had urgency was none for follow-up treatment.”
The Hawai’i Children’s Action Network is coordinating the statewide project. Deborah Zysman is the executive director.
“Teeth are life-long for your health. We know that children, if you have oral health issues, it’s difficult to eat, you have problems with nutrition and children have difficulty in school if they’re having issues with their teeth. Why we’re participating is, right now, we think that our children have really poor oral health but we don’t know much about it.”
Federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawai’i Dental Service Foundation will enable the coalition to complete the project. Shere Saneishi Kim is the Foundation director.
“Our mission is to improve oral health in Hawai’i. And so the foundation gave $137-thousand grant to the Hawai’i Children’s Action Network last year. This one was $43-thousand to do the Head Start and Early Head Start, statewide.”
Meanwhile, State Dental Director Uchida says the 4-month study will provide useful data on dental decay and oral hygiene but it will be limited in terms of offering broad-based solutions.
“While dental cavities are purely preventable and they’re related to simply too much sugar consumption and not enough brushing, the factors that contribute to that, are social complex factors and it takes more than just a simple recipe to try to solve what’s ultimately a social, cultural and a lifestyle problem.”
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.
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