Dr. Rush: The impact of a healthy smile on a positive school-year start - East Valley Tribune: Back To School

Back to School Dr. Rush: The impact of a healthy smile on a positive school-year start

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Dr. Rashmi (Rush) Bhatnagar, DMD, MPH, can be contacted at (480) 598-5900, or for more information, visit BellaVistaDentalCare.com.

Posted: Sunday, August 4, 2013 4:24 pm

As children are preparing to go back to school, parents and their kids are getting ready mentally and physically.

Teens want to look good for their peers, and parents want their children to be best dressed with a beautiful smile.

The smile is a very important aspect of any child’s life. It is a first impression that can tell peers, teachers, and parents if a child is happy and healthy.

According to a national study conducted by Invisalign and Kelton Research in 2011, one-third of 1,047 Americans stated that the teeth are the facial feature remembered most after meeting someone for the first time. This study showed appearance of the smile impacted how people are perceived to be happy, friendly, healthy, popularity, trustworthy and show high self-esteem. Although the study was focused on the impact of straight teeth in social society, it revealed how the smile is an important personal tool that should be maintained and kept healthy.

The Surgeon General’s Oral Health Report of 2000 states that good oral health is essential in a person’s ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow, and make facial expressions to show feelings and emotions. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CSC) report that U.S. tooth decay affects 18 percent of children ages 2-4, 52 percent of children ages 6-8 and 61 percent of teenagers age 15 or older. The CDC reports that dental decay is the most common chronic disease in children ages 5-17.

Every year the American Dental Association (ADA) creates a slogan to encourage children to maintain good oral health and prevent oral disease.

This year’s slogan is “Get a Gold Medal Smile” and is geared towards creating a positive attitude towards brushing and flossing twice a day, eating the right foods and limiting snacks, wearing sports mouth guards, and visiting the dentist regularly.

The annual campaign has always stressed early dental education and prevention to ensure proper oral care habits and teeth for life. For teens, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People organization stresses informing teens about the risks of tobacco and alcohol use. The ADA also recommends teens to avoid oral piercing to prevent chipped teeth and oral infections.

As children are returning to school, parents and children are reminded that the importance of oral health not only reflects the overall physical wellbeing, but the mental health as well. Parents are encouraged to review these factors with their children and teens to promote health habits for life.

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