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Oral Health in Children: The Role of the Nurse in Community Settings

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Oral health has been largely forgotten since 2000, when the Surgeon General’s report, Oral Health in America, declared early childhood caries a silent epidemic, five times more common than asthma and the most common chronic disease of childhood. Although the Surgeon General called for pediatric preventive oral health practices to be integrated into well-child care, evidence from national databases reveals that the incidence and prevalence of dental caries continue to be high, especially in lower socioeconomic and minority group populations. 

Data from the 2009–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reveal that approximately one in four children (14 percent) aged 3 to 5 years living at the poverty level have untreated dental caries. The survey data further reveal that 19 percent of non-Hispanic Black children aged 3 to 5 years and 26 percent of Hispanic children aged 6 to 9 years had untreated dental caries, compared with non-Hispanic White children aged 3 to 5 years (11 percent) and 6 to 9 years (14 percent). Although national statistics show an improvement in access to oral health care for children 5 years and older, the data reveal significant disparities in access to care for children aged 2 to 4 years.

This teaching strategy focuses on developing oral health competencies to educate parents and children on the importance of oral health and hygiene, fluoride, and having a dental home. It also focuses on recognizing abnormal findings in the mouth.

Oral Health in Children: The Role of the Nurse in Community Settings

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