Pediatricians’ offices helping kids care for their teeth

Dental hygiene, preventing tooth decay and connecting to a dentist are now a part of annual checkups

Pediatricians are now helping kids in Louisville and Southern Indiana get the dental care they need by teaching them about good dental hygiene and connecting them to dentists.

“Most parents understand that not taking care of their child’s teeth can lead to cavities, but many may not realize just how common early childhood cavities are,” said Angie Garman, dental hygienist with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness, funded through the Children’s Hospital Foundation. “In fact, it’s the most common chronic disease in childhood.”

Even though Kentucky children have more access to dental providers and dental insurance, the number of children with tooth decay has risen, according to Angie.

Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness is working with Norton Children’s Medical Group offices throughout Louisville and Southern Indiana to include oral treatments during annual wellness visits. Patients under age 6 will receive a fluoride treatment as a preventive measure against cavities. They’ll also receive toothbrushes and toothpaste, as well as education about brushing and flossing at home.

The goal is to improve dental health by teaching kids how to care for their teeth.

Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness has taken the lead in the United for Kids’ Smiles initiative with a grant from Delta Dental of Kentucky to offer the program.

Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness

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Preventing tooth decay and connecting with a dentist

“By improving preventive care and establishing a dental home for routine care early on, we expect for children to go through less dental pain and decay over their lifetime,” Angie said. “Kids will have the tools and knowledge they need to maintain their oral health as an important part of overall health.”

Norton Children’s Medical Group is launching a new system to connect patients with local dentists.

“When we see a patient who doesn’t have a dentist, we can help them find one, establish communication and help set up the first appointment,” Angie said.

Three pilot pediatric offices have already implemented the program, and remaining offices are expected to launch in early 2019. Angie said she is excited about the impact it’ll have on the overall health of the community.

“Teaching families how everyday decisions, such as brushing their child’s teeth twice a day or choosing tap water over sugary drinks, will bring about positive changes in their child’s oral health — and overall health,” she said. “This is something that is extremely exciting and worth smiling about.”