Southern Children, High Risk of Dental Problems
If you just read this and wiped your brow in relief that you are not a Native American, you should reconsider your position especially if you live in Mississippi or Louisiana. A recent Gallup poll indicated that Southerners are less likely to visit the dentist at all, putting Southern children at risk for developing dental problems. The findings from this organization indicated that only 50 percent of Louisiana and Mississippi residents got their teeth cleaned in the last 12 months (according to a study released in September, 2011).
What is Causing Trend
Poor dental health does not simply happen overnight. The process involves a mix of bad oral hygiene, lack of dental care education, eating an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. Sadly, those issues are exasperated by the poverty levels of all study participants and a shortage of dental care providers in the specific communities that were analyzed.
For decades, having dental insurance was a sure indicator of dental health. Sadly, the number of people opting into that coverage has sharply declined: prior to the recession, 100 million Americans skipped dental insurance and the numbers keep growing. The decline in dental coverage is linked to two factors, individuals are opting to skip paying for the coverage to save money and those who do have dental coverage are dismayed to find out that their policy tends to max out at a ceiling of around $1,500 (marking the potential death of dental insurance). The numbers of Native Americans and Southerners living in poverty is large, making the ability to afford dental care a moot point.
Instead, those individuals must rely on the kindness of strangers (who volunteer at free dental clinics) or on government initiatives (like water fluoridation) to boost the dental health of their offspring. The demand far outweighs the supply.
Fortunately, while Native American and Southern children are at the greatest risk of dental problems, caregivers can implement some affordable strategies to help reverse the trend. Practicing oral hygiene is a must; that includes a daily regime of brushing teeth two times for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once a day to remove excess dental plaque (the culprit known for causing tooth decay) build-up. Water should be the main drink of choice for both parents and children, and eating less processed foods can also help.
Individuals lucky enough not to be born directly into any demographic known for having poor teeth and lackluster dental care are still at risk for developing dental problems. Not only should oral hygiene, eating nutritious foods and drinking water been on top of their lists, but those with the extra cash are wise to invest that money towards getting preventative dentistry in the form of annual exams. Seeing a dentist twice a year will allow for professional cleanings and examinations to catch any potential dental problems before the evolve into full-blown disasters. Individuals who need to find a dentist simply need to call 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to be matched with a great dentist up to the task.