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Local event to highlight children's need for dental care

Monday, April 26, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- On Feb. 5, the American Dental Association's Give Kids a Smile Program was successful in providing a national effort to raise awareness of the importance of access to dental care for all children.

Dr. John Hennette and his team of Greencastle Pediatric Dentistry, which has been a participant in the program since its inception in 2003, was unable to provide care for the children of Putnam County during that time due to snow day school cancellations.

The delay will be rectified with a belated Give Kids a Smile Program for eligible children in the county on April 30 at his office. Dr. Hennette and his team of volunteers will provide children who have been screened with examinations, X-rays, cleanings, sealants, fillings and dental hygiene instructions.

Last year, more than 44,560 dental team members nationwide participated in the program. Nearly one in four children aged two to 11 has untreated cavities in their baby teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While poor diet, drinks and oral hygiene certainly play a role, cavities are usually caused by a disease called caries, which is five times more common than asthma.

The National Institute of Health reports that 80 percent of tooth decay is in just 25 percent of children, primarily from low-income families. Public health programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program are supposed to help underserved children, but utilization rates are low.

"Many children enrolled in Medicaid receive no dental services throughout the year," Dr. Hennette said. "With Give Kids a Smile, we can help some children get the dental care they need, but a one-day event will never be enough. This event is not a cure-all."

Due to the need for signed parental permission and other documentation, most Give Kids a Smile events can only see children who have registered in advance, in most cases through school nurses or officials, social service clubs and agencies.

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Fluoridation Does Not Reduce Tooth Decay

Health Ministry of Health 2008 dental statistics for NZ show no benefit from fluoridation.

This mirrors research published last year by the American Dental Association, also showing no benefit, from a study of 39,000 US children.

The average Decayed Missing or Filled Teeth (DMFT) is 0.93 in Wellington and Auckland, in both fluoridated in non-fluoridates areas. The percent of children "caries-free" (without any tooth decay) is 63% in non-fluoridated areas - 1% better than the fluoridated ones, though this is statistically meaningless.

For the rest of NZ, the figures are 44% and 45% caries-free respectively. And the difference in DMFT - 1 tenth (in practice, 1 tenth of a filling). "This is clinically meaningless, and less than annual variations" says Mark Atkin of Fluoridation-Free NZ Coalition.

So why does the Ministry claim there is a 30% benefit from fluoridation?

The published statistics mix high and low socioeconomic (SE) cities and towns to give an overall national figure. "But this is scientifically invalid. SE status (think decile level) is the main influence on tooth decay" explains Mr Atkin. "So you cannot say if it is this or fluoridation that is causing the difference, until you eliminate the SE differences."

Auckland and Wellington (highest SE status in NZ) account for 37% of the statistics for 12 year old children.

"So to compare apples with apples, we separated Auckland and Wellington from the rest of NZ, to provide a rough control for SE status" continues Mr Atkin. "If there were any real benefit from fluoridation, both groups would show this. But what we see is that neither group shows any benefit."

"Mixed together the Ministry's figures give a false result of an apparent benefit of 1/2 a filling (DMFT), which the Ministry spins as 31% to make it sound impressive. I guess when you have 50 years of science proving fluoridation simply does not work, spin doctoring is the only avenue left to the Ministry" laments Mr Atkin, a trained scientist.

Source: Fluoride Action Network NZ Inc

-- Posted by nyscof on Mon, Apr 26, 2010, at 9:41 AM

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