Lift the Lip: Changing Dental Health in Vulnerable Populations

Good Dental Health in Early Childhood

Positive oral health habits are crucial during early childhood years. Baby teeth are an important part of development for infants and young children. Unhealthy teeth can cause physical pain, which prevents children from being able to eat a balanced diet. As a result, poor dental health can have a negative impact on the rest of their bodies, making it crucial that parents help their children develop good dental health practices early. If children can develop good oral health routines in their early years, they are more likely to continue positive dental practices throughout the rest of their lives, which can significantly reduce the amount of money spent on dental healthcare as a population. As a result, promoting health dental practices is one of the best ways to reduce the expense of oral health conditions in Canada.

Changing Dental Health in Vulnerable Populations

Children with Tooth Decay

Despite an increased focus on oral hygiene over the last several decades, tooth decay remains a significant problem across Canada. It is estimated that one-quarter of Canadian children suffer from some form of tooth decay, and 1.25% of children aged one to five will have to have dental surgery due to tooth decay. Tooth decay can cause a variety of conditions in the body. Not only can this condition cause abscesses and infections in cavities in your teeth, but it can lead to infections that spread throughout your entire body, making it a serious condition that requires medical attention.

Tooth Decay in Vulnerable Populations

Children in vulnerable populations are two-to-three times more likely to experience tooth decay, which includes children in remote Aboriginal communities across Canada. Although this problem is completely preventable with simple oral hygiene education and consistent dental check-ups, the lack of funding and medical infrastructure in vulnerable populations fails to provide them with proper medical care. While the rate of tooth decay in these children is shocking, it is just a snapshot of the larger effects of a lack of proper healthcare. From lengthy wait-times for dentist appointments to a lack of public health education, there is a failure to provide these children and communities with the dental healthcare they require. The solution: the “Lift the Lip” program.

What is the“Lift the Lip” Program?

“Lift the Lip” is an oral health screening tool used to detect the early signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral healthcare conditions. The goal is to identify and diagnose oral health conditions in the most efficient, systematic, and affordable way possible. By doing this, treatment can be provided to children within an effective timeline. This method has been used in developing countries and within vulnerable populations across the world, simply because it is the most effective and cost-efficient way of identifying and addressing dental healthcare needs for children.

How Does it Work?

The “Lift the Lip” technique is simple: just lay your child on his or her back and gently lift the top lip so that you can check for early warning signs of oral health conditions. These early warning signs can include white lines or spots on the tooth, brown spots at the gumline, visible plaque, broken teeth, cavities, and foul breath. By performing a simple, quick screening on a consistent basis, parents and healthcare practitioners can identify any ailment and take steps to treat it before it becomes serious and requires surgery. Not only is this method extremely efficient and cost-effective, but it will help reduce the healthcare costs that come with allowing dental conditions to advance to the point that surgery is required. It is recommended that parents perform this dental screening with their children once every month to ensure any ailments are identified hastily and addressed with proper medical attention.

The Bigger Picture

The Healthy Smile Happy Child team noticed this serious need for adequate healthcare and has taken action to promote basic oral hygiene and dental care for children in vulnerable populations. These populations suffer from a lack of access to health resources including dental hygiene education, tools, and practitioners. However, the “Lift the Lip” program is designed for two purposes:

  • First, it helps parents and children to identify dental conditions in their early stages, so they can treat it before it becomes a serious problem;
  • Second, it encourages parents and children to be aware of their dental health, which includes oral hygiene education and the impact that poor dental health can have on the rest of your body.

By encouraging parents and children in vulnerable populations to take responsibility and control over their own dental health, programs such as “Lift the Lip” significantly reduce the expenses incurred by dental conditions, as many conditions are treated before they become expensive and serious.

Who are We?

At Smile Town, we provide fun, comfortable dental care for children who struggle with traditional dental practitioners. We understand that going to the dentist can be a stressful and scary experience, especially for children who have suffered from serious dental conditions or who have had negative experiences with dental work in the past. Our team of experienced dental health practitioners has created a fun, interactive, and exciting environment to make going to the dentist a more positive experience for parents and children alike. We also offer a special program for children with autism and special needs that will make the process more comfortable.

For more information about how to schedule a dentist appointment for your child, or to inquire about our services, call us at 866-533-9440 or contact us here.