Cavities and poor oral health causes pain, inability to eat normally, and mar’s the smiles of children. It has also been shown that cavities increase the lifelong risk of heart disease and stroke. In short, the healthier the mouth, the healthier the person.
Fluoride treatments have been shown to make a dramatic difference in the rates of cavities in children and are part of recommended care. Fluoride varnish is a low cost-effective preventative tool that spares children, family and the health care system the much higher costs of anesthesia and dental repair.
In the city of Buffalo this is especially critical, as news broke in 1/2023 that unbeknownst to all, the municipal water in Buffalo has not had appropriate added Fluoride for 7.5 years. This means that the children of Buffalo were failed by the public institutions that were supposed to be providing the most basic of health interventions, and the public was kept in the dark about this failing.
It is now more important than ever that we make fluoride treatments easily available to the most vulnerable of Buffalo’s children. In addition, there is a shortage of dental providers that accept public assistance insurance, creating long waits to access a dentist. Pediatricians providing Fluoride treatments at well visits is key to improving preventive dental health in Buffalo and helping to fill this gap.
If a prior-authorization and a separate visit are required this means that the families that struggle with finding time off work and transportation will be unable to access care, these are the families that need this care the most. There is always a need for preventive dental care in children, but in the city of Buffalo there is an acute crisis of public health failing that has drastically increased this need. Fluoride Varnish given by primary care pediatricians can help make a difference.