Francisco Ramos-Gomez, DDS, MS, MPH
Francisco Ramos-Gomez, DDS, MS, MPH
In general, there is an increasing trend toward providing dental care to children before the age of three. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Association of Pediatrics currently recommend that children receive their first dental evaluation within the first year of life. This change in attitude allows for early dental intervention with pregnant women, infants and parents to determine a risk status based on parental information. Dentists are able to perform a screening risk assessment and examination of infants’ mouths. Early care provides an opportunity to educate and inform parents about their children’s oral health. Anticipatory guidance/counseling for children’s dental health is an important part of preventive care, and may be the most effective way to prevent problems that traditional infectious-disease surgical models have failed to address, such as early childhood caries (ECC). The use of anti-bacterials and other remineralizing treatments like fluoride varnish, when added to caregiver counseling (Anticipatory Guidance), has proven to be effective prevention strategies in reducing ECC incidence in young children. Fluoride Varnish efficacy in this age group provides additional rationale for an early dental visit, especially for children in high caries-risk groups.
The model of anticipatory care guidance is valuable for general dentists and dental auxiliaries because its emphasis is preventive rather than restorative care. A comprehensive perinatal and infant oral care program utilizes 1) risk assessments at regularly scheduled dental visits; 2) counseling sessions with parents during either regular dental visits or additional visits scheduled if a child is deemed at risk; 3) preventive treatment such as the application of fluoride varnish or sealants; and 4) outreach and incentives to reinforce attendance. Outreach to pregnant women through prenatal programs also effectively improves infant oral health. Facilitating access to early and regular dental care is a crucial part of any effective intervention strategy, and intervention techniques should be tailored to the community being served.
At the conclusion of the lecture, attendees will:
- Understand why pregnancy provides a unique opportunity to provide oral health interventions for women and their infants.
- Realize the impact of maternal oral health on the longer-term oral disease status in families.
- Know the background and clinical evidence in support of perinatal and infant oral care.
- Be able to perform a caries risk assessment through the use of the CAMBRA tool for 0-5 and clinical exam results in a private practice or in a community based clinical environment.
- Identify the dental products available for patient interventions and develop a treatment care path to manage dental caries for any patient based upon CAMBRA risk assessment protocols.
- Understand the benefits and challenges in creating buy-in from dental team members, and the influence of third party payers on patient acceptance.
- Learn to examine, diagnose, and treat very young children using an Infant Oral Care model
- Comprehend the barriers to access in care for lower income families,
- Deliver perinatal and infant/toddler oral health prevention and education, and
- Be able to offer dental practitioners information on a dental practice model in working with the youngest population of pediatric patients and to gain more in depth pediatric dental experience.