Poor infant oral care reminds dentists to keep their patients informed

February 3rd, 2014

New dental research is  not commonly reported in popular culture, which is why maintaining an open line of communication with patients is important for delivering news and further education. However, in an increasingly digital world, keeping in contact can be difficult, which is why many dental practices and educational institutions have began adopting dental academic software to help foster a healthy back and forth between patients and practitioners.

According to a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry titled "State of the Little Teeth Report," infants aren't getting the oral care they need. Research found that 40 percent of all parents and caregivers are instead postponing dental care until children are at least age 2, leaving them open to all manner of oral infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite tooth decay as the No. 1  infectious disease afflicting children in the U.S., and failing to address the issue can lead to severe long-term problems, including speech and learning disabilities.

"Poor oral health can have a tremendous negative impact on a child's quality of life and ability to succeed," Dr. Warren Brill, president of the AAPD, said in a recent press release. "And, pain and infections caused by untreated tooth decay can lead to difficulty chewing food and speaking, as well as tooth discoloration and even tooth loss."

It's not as though parents are actively ignoring the needs of children. It's more a matter of ignorance. According to an AAPD survey, more than 50 percent of adults were completely unaware that dentists could specialize in pediatric dentistry, and 98 percent admitted that had they known the specialist was an option, they would have sought care  for their own child. The disconnect comes from patient education, which is why practices and university clinics need to increase interaction by:

Tracking family demographics
Families don't often go to multiple dental offices, so keeping track of demographic information can be useful as you make recommendations for oral care and schedule appointments. For the most part, maintaining such information has required dentists to keep physical records, manually updating them whenever a patient has an appointment or there's a change to the family. However, by using dental enterprise software, dentistry professionals can effectively streamline the process.

Now, keeping track of an entire family's dental history is as easy as clicking a mouse and pushing down some keys. Through sophisticated automation, dental practitioners can create comprehensive family files, keeping track of appointment history and providing unique patient alerts and office codes.

Keeping patients involved
Administering dental care is the responsibility of the professional, but the overall process requires an effort from both the patient and provider. Previously, this might have meant making a phone call or sending out an email. With dental software, clinics and practices can now provide patients with a more interactive online portal, allowing them to directly schedule and re-schedule appointments for all family members, as well as manage insurance information and alert patients to any possible drug recalls. Dentist can also use automated email features to help keep patients educated on the most up-to-date information, including the results of the AAPD's "Little Teeth" report.

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