Carolinas Childrens Dentistry: A History
Carolinas childrens dentistry is a proud history.
The state’s oldest dental school is in the state’s capital, Charlotte, with students graduating in the mid-1990s.
As recently as 2010, more than 80 percent of all children were receiving oral health services.
But the state has not fully recovered from a devastating recession and the state is struggling to address its aging population.
The Center for the Study of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill estimated that nearly 9 percent of children under the age of 18 in the Carolinas had a condition that could be considered a primary diagnosis.
And in 2011, a federal judge ruled that the state had failed to adequately inform children that oral health care was not optional.
The ruling prompted a change in the way state officials communicate to children about oral health, which could lead to an uptick in the number of children receiving dental care.
“What is the impact of the oral health community’s perception of oral health?” says Dr. Lisa K. Miller, a pediatric dentist who works with the Center for Primary Prevention at UNC Charlotte.
Miller says that during her 10 years at the dental school, she has seen a dramatic change in attitudes toward oral health.
“There’s a lot of frustration,” she says.
“They have to understand that you don’t have to have a cancerous tooth or a bad gingiva.”
The public health implications of this shift have been well documented, with researchers finding that oral disease rates have increased in many communities.
In 2013, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in the U.S., children under age 18 had the highest rates of oral disease among children.
But Miller says the effects of oral cancer are much more dramatic.
“Children with cancer have more risk factors for developing oral disease,” she explains.
“And so it is critical that we do our part to help these children.”
A growing number of people, including dentists, are advocating for dental care as a way to improve oral health in the community.
In 2015, the American Dental Association (ADA) created the Center to Reduce Cancer Risk in Dentistry to advocate for dental health in underserved communities.
But other groups are trying to change the conversation, including the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which has worked for decades to improve dental health.
The AAFP is now working to bring the dental community in line with the ADA and promote oral health for all.
“We are moving to a point where we can be part of this, and I think the dental profession is starting to see this,” says AAFPA president Dr. Jeffrey P. Wysocki.
He notes that the ADA is committed to the goal of eliminating the need for oral surgery.
“The goal is to reduce the burden of disease,” he says.
The ADA and other dental groups have been working to educate the public about the oral cancer risk and the benefits of dental care, including oral health screenings, preventive dental care and dental hygiene.
While the dental workforce is growing, the population of children who have access to oral health education is shrinking.
“I think we’re seeing the erosion of the dental industry as a whole,” says Miller.
“So I think that is a concern.”
What to Do About Cancer Dentistry in the US According to Miller, there are many different ways to address oral health problems.
“Some of them are very simple.
If your toothbrush doesn’t get clean, and it doesn’t go in, you can change that.
If you don, you have to replace it,” she points out.
The dentist who is doing the cleaning can use a brush or toothbrush that has been cleaned and is clean, she says, adding that it’s important to wash your teeth regularly.
If it’s a problem that requires surgery, like cavities, then the dentist can also change the material of the toothbrush.
“If you don-t have cavities on your teeth, you could have a different way of doing it,” Miller says.
Miller is also advocating for people to ask their dentist if they can fill their mouth with fluoride, which is used to prevent cavities.
But many dentists won’t give fluoride to children.
“Most dentists are not willing to do it,” says Dr, Michael K. McDaniel, MD, an associate professor of pediatric denture at the Baylor College of Dentistry and a former director of dental services at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“A lot of dentists have a negative attitude about it,” McDaniel says.
And there’s a growing push to ban the use of fluoridated toothpastes in dentistry.
“It’s time to have teeth checked for cancer, and we’ve been waiting for that for a long time,” Miller tells Shots.