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Dental Decay is a Major Problem Affecting Mississippi School Children

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 17 Mar 2014 09:12am | comments

Dental decay is the most common chronic disease affecting children. That's according to the American Dental Association. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports how poor oral hygiene is plaguing Mississippi children.

63 percent of nearly two thousand Mississippi third graders had a history of tooth decay. While that's actually an improvement from 2005, Tom Dimmer, of Renaissance Dental insurance group stresses the importance of children seeing a dentist on a regular basis.   l

"The important part too especially about getting just about getting a regular dental checkup is that the dentist can diagnose over 30 different medical conditions. And I'm talking medical not just dental. They can look at high blood pressure, they can find anywhere from diabetes. They can look so close to the patient that they can even determine if they have glaucoma.

According to recent studies, students across the country miss 51 million hours of school every year because of oral health problems. They are also four times more likely to have lower grade point averages.  Jacqueline Griffin, a second grade teacher in the Jackson Public School District says she has seen the effects poor oral hygiene has had on children as early as kindergarten

"It saddens me sometimes to see children so young having to come to school with the metal fillings that replace their teeth because of the poor dental hygiene and healthcare. And naturally, its traumatizing, its painful and it does cause for  these children to miss school at such an early age. And they're missing a lot of vital foundational skills that they need to be successful.  

LuLu Williams is a retired Jackson school teacher. But she says there are some lessons she continues to teach.

"These are my grandchildren and what we do is make sure that they brush in the morning, make sure they brush in the afternoon you know before they go to bed. And I think that's very, very important  because  they won’t have to end up like me having to wear dentures later on."

Research shows that children are five times more likely to have tooth decay than asthma. Last month, the American Dental Association provided free teeth cleaning to nearly 1.000 Jackson School Children. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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