To the surprise of some, the subject of oral health implies much more than healthy teeth. State Dental Director, Dr. Dionne Richardson of the Mississippi Department of Health says a good oral health care plan starts early.
“Infection in the mouth can affect other metabolic systems in your body. So, starting at age one, it's important for our kids to have their first dental visit," Richardson says.
An annual visit to the dentist is not always possible for some. Dr. Hayden Perkins, a dentist in Oxford says he knows the disparities of dental health all too well.
"80 percent of childhood decay occurs in 20 percent of the population. That's typically the poor, less educated children that are on the government or managed-care programs," says Perkins.
Perkins says his practice allows him to educate parents on the correlation of good oral health and physical well-being. He also believes a child getting a check-up at one year of age is beneficial to parents as well.
"It's really not for the baby. It's an education level with the parents. You're not supposed to put the child to bed with a sippy-cup full of sweet tea," Perkins says.
Health officials say poor oral health care can lead to other infections. The Mississippi Department of Health offers preventative services that aim to lower the risk of diabetes, and heart disease that result from poor dental care.