In February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month. Throughout this month, the ADA emphasizes the importance of developing good habits at an early age. The organization aims to promote and spread the awareness of the benefits in maintaining good oral health.
Good habits can include scheduling regular visits, forming good brushing routines, and getting a good start at an early age on striving for healthy teeth and gums. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) remind us that a nutritional regimen, like adding calcium to a diet, is also an essential part of healthy teeth and bones. Healthy Children recommends that parents also work with their pediatrician to establish good oral health, as a healthy mouth is an important piece of a child’s wellness.
Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases in children, as stated by the CDC. Untreated, the pain and infections from tooth decay may later lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning.
Therapists at PTP can help a children improve these skills that may have been comprised from tooth decay. Therapy not only accelerates development, but it can also compliment or create healthy habits. Occupational therapists work to improve a child’s physical development, social and emotional development, cognition, and fine motor skills. They assist the child in all undertakings of daily living. Occupational therapists can help the child with brushing and oral care routines. Therapists then work with the families to help carry out these habits at home so the child progresses towards completing the task on their own.
Alyssa, an occupational therapist at PTP, explains, “Occupational therapy can work on decreasing oral defensiveness to help kids tolerate the toothbrush and toothpaste in their mouths to increase their self-care skills and independence.”
Each year, health care providers and other professionals continually work together to promote the importance of good oral health to children and families.
American Dental Association (ADA): http://www.ada.org/5578.aspx
Healthy Children: http://www.healthychildren.org/english/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/default.aspx