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Monday, February 29, 2016

Children's Dental Health Awareness Month

“This post was sponsored by the MetLife TRICARE Dental Program as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central.”

On behalf of the MetLife TRICARE Dental Program and as an ambassador with Influence Central I am sharing a blog post highlighting that February is Children's Dental Health Awareness Month and reminding the military community about a few important dental benefits that are available to dependent children and spouses of active duty members and reservists. MetLife is also sharing a couple of issues, guidelines, and preventative measures on some teeth-related issues that can affect children (and adults!).

Cavities and teeth grinding!!

No one really likes going to the dentist, but some experiences are worse than others. I was a kid who hated going to the dentist because it seemed at every visit they were either filling a cavity or finding a new cavity. Getting a filling seemed a lot more involved back then than it does now - and I speak from experience as I still had to have fillings put in as an adult. It hasn't been for lack of proper tooth brushing or taking care of my teeth either - then or now - it's just been my not-so-great-luck with cavities.

My husband on the other hand, knock on wood, hasn't had the teeth issues that I have. Since genetics do play a part with cavities I am hoping our kids take after him. So far, again knock on wood, that has been the case. Neither Kayla nor Lucas have had any negative experiences at the dentist, thus far, and for that I am grateful.

Kayla has had some anxiety because of how she feels towards anything medical and the unknown of what exactly is going to happen or what they are going to do to her. Thankfully we've been at a wonderful children's dental practice where the staff have all been patient with Kayla at each visit. So much so that they even successfully applied sealants to her teeth...in one visit...we almost had to come back to do the other side of her mouth, but they managed to finish before she couldn't handle it any more. Lucas got sealants last year as well.

What is so important about sealants? Research has shown that sealants help prevent cavities on teeth with pits and grooves;  it's recommended that sealants be placed on the permanent molar teeth (usually the first set erupts around age 6 and the second set around age 12). The process is short and (relatively) easy as it doesn't involve drilling.

Another issue is teeth grinding. Several years ago at a dental appointment it was pointed out to me that I most likely clench and/or grind my teeth based on some receding gum lines. I had a custom mouth guard made to help prevent anymore issues with teeth grinding.

Unfortunately my kids do seem to be taking after me in this respect. I've heard Lucas grinding his teeth at night on a few occasions and Kayla's dental visits have shown that she is doing this too as it is showing on her teeth (although I have rarely heard her do this).

Some tips to try and help decrease teeth grinding include
- decrease child's stress, especially before bedtime
- try massage to relax muscles
- drink plenty of water as dehydration may be linked to teeth grinding
- older children may need a mouth guard for nighttime teeth grinding

A few of the benefits from the MetLife TRICARE Dental Program include
- 2 cleanings, exams, and flouride applications a year (and the dentist can monitor the teeth if there is grinding going on!) at no cost
- sealants for children has only a 20% co-payment
- coverage for a child up to age 21, or 23 if full-time student
- space maintainers are covered under age 19
- athletic mouth guard (one per consecutive 12-months) is covered at 50% cost share

To enroll in the MetLife TRICARE Dental Program you can do so online, over the phone at 1-855-638-8371 or mail the Enrollment Authorization form to MetLife TRICARE Dental Program, P.O. Box 14185, Lexington KY, 40512.

For more resources see the MetLife TRICARE Dental Program Facebook and Twitter pages.

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