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Current Concepts in Preventive Dentistry

Course Number: 334

Introduction

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend children be seen by a dentist in their first year of age. We know that evidence-based prevention, early detection and management of oral conditions greatly benefit children. Delayed care can exacerbate oral conditions, leading to the potential for future oral pain and costly dental care. A 2018 national survey conducted on behalf of the AAPD revealed 74% of parents do not take their children to the dentist by their first birthday. Even though 96% of parents surveyed indicated oral health is important, 3 in 10 parents considered toothaches a less serious ailment than earaches, tummy aches, and sore throats. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates oral cancer kills one American every hour of every day and only 50% of those diagnosed with oral cancer will survive more than 5 years. As dental providers, we know early detection of oral cancer is critical. However, NCI indicates only 1/3 of oral cancer is found in the early stages, with 1/3 of oral cancer occurring in patients younger than 55 years of age. Recent studies by John Hopkins indicates 1 in 7 people diagnosed with oral cancer were younger than 40 years of age, with 25% of these patients not having the traditional risk factors for oral cancer. About 2/3 of oral cancer occurs in the floor of the mouth and tongue and 1/3 of cases are diagnosed as oropharyngeal cancer. We know that tobacco use places our patients at high-risk for cancer. Current statistics indicate people who use tobacco are six times more likely to develop oral cancer, where 8 in 10 patients diagnosed with oral cancer have smoked. This course includes current data for dental clinicians as they determine patient treatment.