Adolescent oral health care to be addressed

Sept. 19, 2007
Topic will be American Dental Hygienists' Association's focus for 2007 National Dental Hygiene Month.

CHICAGO--The American Dental Hygienists' Association has announced that the celebration of National Dental Hygiene Month 2007 will focus upon the importance of adolescent oral health care.

The second topic of the four-year theme "A Healthy Smile Lasts a Lifetime," which closely examines the various oral afflictions relevant to specific age groups throughout an individual's lifespan.

Adolescence is an important time in the development of an individual's mouth that can have a lasting effect in ensuring that a healthy smile does indeed last a lifetime.

Current research suggests that the overall cavities rate is declining, yet remains highest during adolescence. Many factors influence the oral health status of adolescents including piercings, smoking, eating disorders, consumption of sugary sodas, use of mouthguards, proper nutrition, and even hormonal changes associated with puberty.

While all of these factors present the potential for serious oral health problems, those problems can be prevented by educating parents and their children about these topics before a problem occurs.

"A number of unique factors influence the oral health of adolescents," said Jean Connor, RDH, ADHA president. "It is important for dental hygienists, as prevention specialists, to educate both adolescents and their parents on these topics before any potential problem arises. Many symptoms of problems arising from eating disorders, piercings, and poor nutrition are difficult to detect, leaving patients unaware of the damage they are causing to their mouths and bodies. Education is an effective form of prevention, and prevention is more cost and time-effective than restoration."

ADHA is encouraging dental hygienists across the country to get involved in NDHM this October to increase public awareness of the importance of educating both adolescents and their parents on the unique situations which impact their oral health.

For more information about ADHA, dental hygiene or the link between oral health and general health, visit ADHA at American Dental Hygienists' Association.