Every stage of life is unique, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the journey we all take in “becoming us” — our adult selves. The process of growth and development is complex and shrouded in magnificent mystery. As time and science unveil the mysteries of growth, it is the responsibility of parents and healthcare professionals to shepherd our children, to make sure that they are nurtured and grow into the next generation’s healthy mature adults.
Monitoring growth and development, preventing and intercepting disease along this road, is the mission of pediatric dentistry. This dental specialty strives to ensure the oral health of infants and children through adolescence to the completion of growth — including children with special healthcare needs. Children’s needs extend beyond oral and dental health to include general health, for they are inseparable and interconnected. Healthy growth and development lays the foundation for the rest of one’s life, both physically and emotionally.
We will review the topics involved in the changing life cycle of children’s oral and dental health, from birth through adolescence to adulthood. It is a real metamorphosis.
The More Things Change, The More They… Really Change
The Surgeon General of the United States has stated, “You can’t be healthy without oral health.” And you can’t have good oral health without good nutrition. Mother and child embark on the journey of new life together, which begins with the mother’s healthy diet and nutrition for her developing baby. This changes into meeting the needs of the growing child as a separate entity, and again as the child grows and becomes independent. Nutrition affects growth and development, and of course the mouth is the conduit through which it all takes place. We need good nutrition and dietary practices throughout life for the formation, development and continued health of our oral tissues and structures, as well as those of the rest of our body. Continue reading