Indeed… dental diseases can KILL you
Dental decay claimed the life of a 12-year-old boy in Maryland last month, as reported by The Washington Post. Reporters, bloggers and Internet forums all over the world are asking: “How could this have happened in the richest nation in the world? Where did the system fail?” It certainly is reasonable and fair for a caring society to ask these questions. But asking is one thing and solutions are another.
How it can happen
Dental decay is an infectious disease that starts small and, left unchecked, can penetrate a tooth’s nerve chamber. Once the nerve is infected, the infection is free to move throughout the body. Death is rare but the infection can, and quite often does, go to other parts of the body and create major medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes and premature babies. In Deamonte’s Driver’s case, the infection went to the brain.
How it can be prevented
GO TO THE DENTIST! Decay is usually difficult to detect and only the trained eye of a dentist is able to spot it in its earliest stages. However, advanced decay makes itself readily visible to the casual observer. Abnormalities like fractures, dark and black discolorations, breaks and holes are not difficult to see and are quite often the sign of serious health-threatening decay. Once this decay process is underway, only a dentist is able to stop the progress of the disease.
This is why regular visits to the dentist are necessary not just to keep your teeth pearly white, but as a fundamental part of preventative healthcare. According to Deamonte’s mother, there was no money for dental treatment and access to care via Medicaid was not available until it was too late. The disease ravaged his body.
A new way to look at an old problem
Dental disease is one of the simplest and easiest diseases to prevent but one of the most expensive to repair. This is because while the skin will heal and repair itself under normal conditions teeth cannot. Teeth must be repaired or replaced to be put back together again. Preventive education and early detection are the keys to stopping decay. We must teach children about the importance of good oral health so they are armed with the knowledge and healthy values to make educated decisions regarding their medical choices.
A local solution
Operation Stop Decay is a nationwide initiate to teach and educate children about the importance of proper oral heath and preventive care. Your local dentists are a part of this movement are doing their best to make a difference in access to care and education.
With the help of Operation Stop Decay the dentists of Victoria and Jackson County are educating all first grade children in the public school systems of each county, Texas A&M Extension, 4H, local county judges, city mayors and educators are all working together as active participants in Operation Stop Decay,devising curriculum that is not only educational but entertaining as well.
On the state level, Representative Morrison and Senator Hegar passed a concurrent resolution in the 80th legislature marking the first week in February as Operation Stop Decay week. More can be learned about this educational program by going to www.operationstopdecay.com. There is free educational material for parents and children on the site.