As long-time St. Louis residents who operate a dental practice serving St. Louis patients, our team at Masterpiece Smiles is passionate about helping Missourians achieve optimal oral health. And it’s not just to promote healthy, beautiful smiles; research consistently points to the positive correlation between a patient’s oral health and their overall well-being. |
We believe that learning about the current situation many Missourians face when it comes to accessing dental care will help us provide better, more effective services for our community. The Missouri Foundation for Health has implemented a multi-year oral health initiative to help improve conditions in our state for both children and adults who may lack the funds or access necessary to receive routine care. Below, we’re looking at some of the numbers discovered in their research, and what these mean as part of the greater picture of health for our state.
23% of Missouri Third-Graders Had Unsatisfactory Oral Health
Oral hygiene and routine preventive care are crucial for healthy development in children. It’s why the American Dental Association recommends that children start seeing a dentist as soon as their first primary teeth start appearing, or by the age of two. Oral health issues at a young age, such as impacted primary teeth, extensive periodontal disease, or tooth decay, can impede proper development of permanent teeth and contribute to oral health issues as a teen and young adult. In addition, children’s speech development and chewing behaviors may permanently be affected by painful tooth decay or missing teeth left untreated by inadequate oral care. And healthy teeth and gums don’t just affect children’s physical development, but their social and mental development, too; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children with poor oral health actually miss more school and perform more poorly in school than their peers.
38% of Missourians Haven’t Visited the Dentist in Over a Year
The American Dental Association recommends people see a dental health provider on a regular basis for routine dental cleanings and a thorough examination to catch early signs of decay or disease. Most dentists believe every six months is a good standard for patients with relatively healthy teeth and gums. However, nearly 40 percent of Missourians haven’t been to the dentist in over a year.
Routine examinations are the only way to remove tartar which greatly contributes to tooth decay and periodontal disease. In addition, early intervention can prevent more extensive health issues. According to the Missouri Foundation for Health’s report, 60,000 emergency room visits occurred from patients dealing with non-traumatic dental issues. Pain or discomfort from problems such as a cracked or chipped tooth can increase or the tooth can become infected when not treated quickly, escalating into a much bigger and more painful problem. In turn, hospitals and emergency rooms face an influx of patients in pain from non-emergency problems that could have been more quickly treated at a dental clinic.
How These Numbers are Spurring Action
The Missouri Foundation for Health has taken these statistics and used them to inspire innovated ideas for solving the oral health issues affecting thousands of Missourians every year. As a result, more providers, more touchpoints, and more access to care is being brought to people in communities where it’s needed most. In addition, new ideas such as mobile dental clinics are being tested as a way to rethink traditional methods which may not be serving these communities effectively.
Our team at Masterpiece Smiles has a heart for serving the St. Louis and worldwide community. Dr. Mike and Jeremy Frith have served as volunteer dentists in areas of Central America and Cambodia through Mercy Ministries, as well as volunteering at Give Kids a Smile. We are passionate about helping others when we can, and are thankful for the opportunities we receive to help others experience life-changing dentistry. We plan on using these statistics to help drive our future care efforts for Missouri children and adults who may be facing a lack of adequate care. To learn more about the Missouri Foundation for Health’s initiative, view their website at https://mffh.org/our-focus/oral-health/. To discover more about our St. Louis practice, as well as some of our past volunteer work, visit our website at drfrith.com.
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