Physicians can offer dental health tips


LEWISTON — The Central Maine Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program has launched a new dental health program for young children.

Created for children from 6 months to 6 years of age, the new service involves the application of fluoride varnish to areas where tooth decay may damage primary teeth. The residency program is offering the service with the assistance of a grant from the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Childhood cavities caused by tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Forty percent of children have cavities by the time they reach kindergarten, and many school hours are lost each year due to dental problems related to cavities.

It’s possible to prevent dental disease for a lifetime, especially if care begins at birth. With proper care, childhood cavities are almost 100 percent preventable.

The American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists both recommend that children have their first oral health assessment by age 1, yet most children don’t see a dentist until they are much older.

Primary care providers see children early and frequently, so they are ideally positioned to provide prevention and intervention in oral health.

The CMMC Family Residency Program took advantage of a training opportunity provided by the Kids Oral Health Partnership, a program that teaches health professionals who are not dentists to examine the mouths and teeth of very young children, assess the risk of disease, offer guidance to parents or other caregivers on how to keep their child’s mouth and teeth healthy and apply fluoride varnish that can help prevent cavities.

Parents, guardians and others interested in learning more about the Kids Oral Health Partnership and how to better protect the children they care for from tooth decay are urged to call 795-2800.