The social-economic disparity in a community is an ordinary occurrence, which affects the quality and accessibility of oral healthcare. Oral health in children is one of the most widespread healthcare issues in a community. Community-oriented care providers study children’s oral health as they map these health concerns with social factors like income, education, etc. Researches support that children from underprivileged families are prone to oral health problems compared to those from rich families, because of lack of access issues. In addition, families whose members have attained low levels of education, often fail to observe oral health. Consequently, children from such families are prone to dental diseases.
This group has special needs because they cannot make informed decisions for themselves and need parental guidance. They need close monitoring and supervision from the adults when taking care of their teeth (Bonito, 2002). Regarding attendance, parents or caretakers need to take children to a health facility for dental examination on a regular basis. Children tend to have poor oral hygiene than adults, as more reports from dental facilities indicate a high prevalence of the dental condition among children below age 6. For this reason, children need special oral care beyond the routine brushing of teeth (Locker, 2002). Thus, dental care attendance becomes very crucial.
Common Oral Health Problems
The most common dental diseases in children, particularly those below six years old, are dental caries and periodontal disease. Dental caries is a condition of teeth decay, which affects the enamel and dentine. Microorganisms found in plaque and fermentable carbohydrates like sugars are the main causal agents. Periodontal affects softer tissues in the mouth and manifests as a lesion on the tissues that support teeth. Dental care experts classify the periodontal disease into gingivitis and periodontitis. It is caused by bacterial plaque. The diseases are easily preventable by dental/oral hygiene (Locker, 2002).
Oral health is a health care concern affecting children and their families. Consequently, oral care is as important as any other health care concern affecting a community. Care of primary dentations needs to be protected by preventing pain and sepsis; thereby, helping to maintain favorable welfare of children (Locker, 2002).
A wide spectrum of oral conditions affects young children. This group often indicates minor cysts of oral mucosa at birth and trouble in teething. Bluish swelling precedes teeth eruption and rarely needs treatment. The preschoolers suffer trauma to primary teeth from play resulting in injury to hard tissues or luxation of the teeth. Poor hygiene is also rife in preschoolers, while it is less in school-goers (Locker, 2002). Often, parents tend to let preschoolers do their cleaning, which they often do not do appropriately.
Children need to attend community health facilities for routine dental check-ups. Dental attendance though very important is faced with grim challenges. Differences in education, income, and family structure posed barriers to attendance (Bonito, 2002). Noteworthy, attendance is high in preschoolers, because of the high likelihood to accompany parents to a health facility.
To improve attendance, the government has to allocate equitable resources to communities to allow free check-ups, at least once a year (Donaldson et al., 2008). This would encourage attendance. Personnel of community centers must include a varied mix of professionals ranging from therapists to hygienists in order to facilitate holistic care. Stakeholders must impart favorable dental health behavior in communities implement high standards of cleanliness. Parents or caregivers could develop habitual attendance and register with a dentist for consultations (Donaldson et al., 2008). Community-oriented Professionals can educate parents on basic tenets of dental health care. These professionals, such as social workers, nurses, and physicians should take a proactive stance with regard to promoting good oral health standards in the community.
The interview with community health professionals has provided some level of knowledge about oral health. As such, it is easy to identify two approaches that can be highly efficient in increasing dental attendance and promoting general oral health in children. The stakeholder of oral health can have a mobile dental unit to reach out to the community and schools or create special dental access units in community health facilities.
Bonito, A. J., (2002). Executive Summary: Dental Care Considerations for Vulnerable Populations. Spec Care Dentist, 22, 5s-10s.
Donaldson, A. N., et al., (2008). The Effects of Social Class and Dental Attendance on Oral Health. Journal of Dental Research, 87, 60-64.
Locker, D. (2002). Deprivation and Oral Health: A Review. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol, 28, 161-9.