September and Dental Health

By Catherine M. Fascilla, D.D.S.

September is such a wonderful month filled with beautiful blue skies, low humidity and perfect temperatures. For others it’s a new beginning as it marks the start of a new school year.

In an effort to produce an article this month that relates September with dental health, I decided to surf the web to see what I could find. I know that February is National Children’s Dental Health month but what month is September? The following are a few of the discoveries that I found interesting.

One blog sponsored by the American Dental Society stated that September is National Gum Care Month, a time for all of us to focus on oral health and gum disease. With 42 causes listed in September on the calendar of Health Awareness months, Gum Care was not one of them. I didn’t realize myself that such a thing existed. Perhaps it exists on a more comprehensive list.

I did find a study published by the American Journal of Public Health in September of 2012 on the Impact of Oral Health on the Academic Performance of Disadvantaged Children. The study involved almost 1500 elementary and high school students in the Los Angeles area with low household incomes (under $35,000) and those that lacked access to dental care related to the lack of dental insurance. The finding was that these children were four times more likely to have a low grade point average. These children had significantly higher absences from school and their parents took more time off from work.

It makes sense that a child distracted by the pain of a toothache would not do as well in school. It reminded me of the times I’ve seen patients suffering from severe toothaches that needed to take days off from work or school and thinking that, if these patients were seen every six months or even every year, they would not be experiencing the severe pain that they are in now or the higher cost of emergency treatment and the cost of lost income.

Fortunately for us, Carle Place is not a community of disadvantaged children. With a median household income of over $100,000 compared to $61,000 for the state of N.Y. and $57,000 for our nation, and a high median home value of $491,000 compared to $294,000 for N.Y., many of our local children have prepared for back to school with dental visits during the summer months.

Lastly, on web surfing, I discovered from various veterinary sights, that September is Dental Health Awareness Month for Animals and that studies have shown that healthy teeth and gums in your pet can add two years to their lives. Dental visits for pets are surprisingly similar to the treatment we receive in that they include a thorough exam which can include x-rays, ultrasonic scaling of teeth and under gums to remove plaque, tartar and debris, a polishing, application of a fluoride gel, extractions and tooth repair if necessary and a six month follow-up. Two extra years in the life of a pet is very significant. I wonder how many extra years humans can gain from regular dental visits?

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