Posted March 7, 2012
In national surveys, employees place high value on their ancillary benefits, especially dental and vision insurance. But many parents indicate that they select dental and vision benefits to ensure their kids have healthy teeth and eyes. They recognize the importance of preventive care in providing the best learning and growing experiences possible. Here’s what parents and care givers need to know about kids’ dental and vision care needs:
- Impact of tooth decay –Tooth decay has become one of the most common health issues that kids face today. One of the most common diseases of childhood, tooth decay is five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever or bronchitis.
- Avoid a lifetime of oral health problems – The root system from baby teeth helps lay the foundation for permanent teeth. Unfortunately, nearly six out of 10 kids in the United States have cavities, and about 25 percent have untreated decay in their permanent teeth. Kids with damaged teeth from cavities at a young age may experience a lifetime of tooth and gum problems.
- Influence on learning – Due to aching teeth and gums, kids with dental issues often experience discomfort when eating, sleeping and learning at school. Nationally, kids lose more than 51 million school hours each year due to dental-related illness.
- Help kids take care of their teeth:
- Daily practice good oral health habits with your child(ren), such as brushing, flossing and rinsing with non-alcohol antiseptic mouthwash made for kids
- Schedule regular preventive dental checkups as directed by the dentist
- Follow a healthy diet with moderate intake of foods containing sugar and starch
- Visual learning – Kids live in a visual world. Nearly 80 percent of what they learn through age 12 is visual, and kids need more than 15 visual skills to succeed in reading, learning, playing sports, and participating in everyday activities. Seeing 20/20 is just one of those skills, according to the American Optometric Association.
- Common vision problems – The most common vision problems in children are refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Unfortunately, one in four school-age kids has vision problems that, if left untreated, can hinder their ability to learn and negatively affect their confidence and performance in school.
- Importance of eye exams – The American Optometric Association recommends that children receive their first eye exam by age 1, the next by age 3 and another before starting kindergarten. After that, students should have a yearly comprehensive exam to evaluate their total vision (not just a screening to check their ability to see).
See the Today Show’s report on why preventive dental care is important: Preschoolers in surgery for a mouthful of cavities.