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Letter From Dear Doctor

Issue 19 of Dear Doctor Magazine

“Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” John F. Kennedy

In this issue, which coincides with National Children's Dental Health Month, we celebrate our children with a special section highlighting topics in the changing life cycle of children's oral and dental health, from birth through adolescence to adulthood.

The mouth is the conduit through which all food, healthy and unhealthy, passes. Poor dietary choices including excessive consumption of sugars and fat, and the absence of exercise, are habits that affect oral and systemic (general) health. Here's the impact of this: We live in an unusual age, when for the first time in the history of the United States childhood obesity is an epidemic, one that is impairing the physical and emotional health of our children, families, and society as a whole. It can become a chronic condition extending into adulthood and throughout a lifetime, increasing the risk for earlier onset of chronic diseases: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, oral disease and some cancers.

When children's oral health suffers, so does their ability to learn. As former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher stated, “What amounts to a silent epidemic of dental and oral diseases is affecting (some) population groups. This burden of disease restricts activities in schools, work, and home, and often significantly diminishes the quality of life.”

At every stage of life, eating a nutritious, balanced diet and staying physically active are essential for health and well-being. This is especially true for children and adolescents, who are developing the habits they will likely maintain throughout their lifetimes. As you will read in this issue, childhood is the time to encourage and instill healthy behaviors and habits. 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.

We do so many things out of habit, by rote. A simple but surprising thing happened to one of us the other day that made this point. A certain Dear Doctor editor-in-chief would habitually take off his bike gloves, one finger at a time; when you're hot and sweaty this can take an eternity. Observing, his wife simply said, “Turn them inside out” — and off they popped in a second.

Children grow so quickly, seemingly their lives and ours pass in moments. Don't miss the opportunity to learn, change old habits for new — just “turn them inside out.”


Mario A.Vilardi, DMD

Garry A.Rayant, BDS, DDS, LDSRCS, MS