The American Academy of Pediatrics published its first policy related to oral health in 2003. Since then, AAP oral health experts have published additional policies and participate in the review of the AAP many policies on children’s health.
Oral health is an integral part of the overall health of children. Dental caries is a common and chronic disease process with significant short- and long-term consequences. The prevalence of dental caries for the youngest of children has not decreased over the past decade, despite improvements for older children. As health care professionals responsible for the overall health of children, pediatricians frequently confront morbidity associated with dental caries. Because the youngest children visit the pediatrician more often than they visit the dentist, it is important that pediatricians be knowledgeable about the disease process of dental caries, prevention of the disease, and interventions available to the pediatrician and the family to maintain and restore health.
This succinct report will help to guide pediatricians and other health professionals regarding the use of fluoride as a caries prevention agent in the primary care setting. It covers the use of fluoride toothpaste in young children, fluoride varnish application in the primary care setting, fluoride supplements for children living in non-fluoridated areas, and facts about community water fluoridation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and its Section on Oral Health have developed this clinical report for pediatricians and primary care physicians regarding the diagnosis, evaluation, and management of dental trauma in children aged 1 to 21 years. This report was developed through a comprehensive search and analysis of the medical and dental literature and expert consensus. Guidelines published and updated by the International Association of Dental Traumatology are an excellent resource for both dental and nondental health care providers.
Children with developmental disabilities often have unmet complex health care needs as well as significant physical and cognitive limitations. Children with more severe conditions and from low-income families are particularly at risk with high dental needs and poor access to care. In addition, children with developmental disabilities are living longer, requiring continued oral health care. This clinical report describes the effect that poor oral health has on children with developmental disabilities as well as the importance of partnerships between the pediatric medical and dental homes.
The oral health of Indigenous children of Canada (First Nations, Inuit,
and Métis) and the United States (American Indian, Alaska Native) is a
major child health issue. This statement includes recommendations for preventive oral health and clinical care for young infants and pregnant women by primary health care providers, community-based health-promotion initiatives, oral health workforce and access issues, and advocacy for community water fluoridation and fluoride-varnish program access.
Oral Health Risk Assessment Timing and Establishment of the Dental Home (2003, reaffirmed in 2009) (57 KB)
Pediatricians and pediatric health care professionals should develop the knowledge base to perform oral health risk assessments on all patients beginning at 6 months of age. Patients who have been determined to be at risk of development of dental caries or who fall into recognized risk groups should be directed to establish a dental home 6 months after the first tooth erupts or by 1 year of age (whichever comes first).
Guidelines for Monitoring and Management of Pediatric Patients During and After Sedation for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures: An Update (2006) (156 KB)
The AAP and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry joint statement provides guidelines for all medical and dental practitioners regarding the monitoring and management of pediatric patients during and after sedation. The sedation of children is different from the sedation of adults. Children often require deeper levels of sedation to control their behavior for safe completion of a procedure, and they are particularly vulnerable to the physiological effects of sedating medications.
Physicians with experience or expertise in child abuse and neglect should make themselves available to dentists and to dental organizations as consultants and educators. Such efforts will strengthen our ability to prevent and detect child abuse and neglect and enhance our ability to care for and protect children.
Dental caries (cavities) is the most common chronic infectious disease of early childhood.