Healthy mouths = healthier children

Mrs Jennifer Mckibben1

1Oral Health Services Tasmania, 2A Archer Street, New Town, Australia

Early childhood decay is a severe and rapidly progressing form of tooth decay that affects infants and young children. It is the most common chronic disease of childhood, five times more common than asthma and often results in pain, infection, hospitalization and lowered self-esteem. Early childhood decay is a predictor of dental decay in permanent teeth and although highly preventable more than 50% of Tasmanian 5-year old’s have a history of dental disease. In 2015-16, 206 children under 5 years were admitted for dental extractions and treatment under general anaesthetics. Alarmingly 49% of Australian parents still believe getting cavities just happens to all children.

Evidence tells us that early childhood is the time when most lifetime habits are established and prevention of disease in this age group can contribute to better health in adulthood. Oral Health Services Tasmania recognises that families can have improved oral health and general health outcomes if we have a coordinated approach to increasing oral health awareness among partners who have access to children and families such as ante natal and child health professionals, school nurses and early year’s educators.

Oral Health Services Tasmania have implemented programs designed to decrease the incidence of early childhood decay by working with multiple partners. ‘Lift the Lip’ and the ‘Healthy Smiles for Two’ programs both work to integrate oral health into general health interventions by building the oral health capacity of multiple partners.

Good oral health is important to good general health outcomes for Tasmanian children and families.

Healthy smiles really are everyone’s business!


Biography:

Jenny McKibben has worked for Oral Health Services Tasmania as a Dental Therapist for more than 25 years and now has the role of the Oral Health Promotion Coordinator. Jenny has been a passionate advocate for the early intervention and prevention of early childhood decay and improved oral health outcomes for all children and families, especially those most in need.

Jenny has been involved in the implementation and development of early intervention and preventive programs such as Lift the Lip and Healthy Smiles for Two.

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