Purpose of review: Oral health is an integral part of the overall health of children. Pediatricians must be competent in issues of oral health and disease if they are to fulfill their role as professionals dedicated to the health of children. This review will update pediatricians on the epidemiology of child oral disease, highlight the importance of good oral health in special populations of children, and examine the role pediatricians can play in maintaining children's oral health.
Recent findings: Dental caries continues to be a common chronic disease of childhood and has increased in the youngest age groups. Oral disease has implications beyond the mouth and can cause significant problems for children with other chronic diseases. Pediatricians receive very little education on oral health during their medical training and numerous barriers exist to incorporating oral health into practice. Despite these facts, opportunities exist to both increase knowledge and overcome the barriers to incorporating oral health into daily practice. Collaboration with other child health professionals to improve children's oral health will make the job of the pediatrician easier.
Summary: Pediatricians have an opportunity to increase their knowledge of children's oral health, incorporate it into their daily clinical routine, and improve the overall health of children.