Tooth decay remains one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States, but access to dental care is a challenge for many. Dental caries disproportionately affects poor, young, minority populations and children with special health care needs.
Good oral health is a necessary part of overall health, and poor oral health adversely impacts multiple chronic conditions. Failure to prevent caries has significant health, educational and financial consequences for individuals and society.
Simple prevention measures in the home and primary care settings can save health care dollars.
Pediatricians frequently see young children and provide guidance on nutrition and oral hygiene. Thus, they are uniquely positioned to participate in the primary prevention of dental caries.
An updated AAP clinical report from the Section on Oral Health aims to assist pediatricians in maximizing the use of fluoride for caries prevention while minimizing the risk of enamel fluorosis. It also clarifies the advice pediatricians should give regarding fluoride use in the home.