Children and adolescents who live in foster care usually have sustained adverse childhood experiences, and it includes family disruption and child maltreatment. Providing medical assistance for children in foster care require empathy for childhood trauma and the possible negative impacts on the developing brain. The mental and physical well-being of foster care kids plays a big role in ensuring their comfort.
And oral care is often neglected since symptoms of poor oral hygiene is not a concern until a child actually starts complaining. Often, such kids require a root canal due to poor oral hygiene or may be recommended to wear night guards and sports guard in cases where kids are involved in extracurricular activities.
Here are some statistics that support poor oral health in foster kids:
- 49% of foster kids do not pay dental visits regularly
- 23% of 5-year-old foster kids have serious dental conditions
- 9% of foster kids undergo tooth extractions under general anesthesia
Such children and teens often receive incomplete and sporadic dental and oral health attention before moving into foster homes. And they usually have a high chance of undiagnosed or under-treated acute and chronic dental or oral health problems.
Here’s a look at some of the problems at foster care homes that require attention:
- Finding and maintaining proper records
When a child moves into foster care, the most common mistake on the part of the parents and child welfare is providing and maintaining proper records. These records serve as important data to understand the child’s well-being. And often when emergency situations like extraction of wisdom tooth arise, caregivers may not understand the problem until a child starts crying, indicating pain in the tooth.
- Poor Communication Between Parents and Foster Organizations
Poor communication between parents and foster organizations is a gap that needs to be bridged. Parents often forget to communicate important details to caregivers. Maybe their child has an on-going root canal treatment or requires a new teeth straightening services. These details should not be missed out at any cost. Foster care organizations, on the other hand, should make it a practice to pose questions to parents regarding the child’s mental, physical, and oral health.
- Bad Financial Conditions
In many situations, due to poor financial conditions, parents are unable to pay for their child’s dental treatments. Thus, the child suffers a great deal. The lack of regular dental visits makes it nearly impossible for caregivers and parents to understand the child’s condition. And important treatments that require veneers and crowns may be missed since parents can’t afford additional expenses.
Here are some solutions for foster care workers and foster parents:
- Proper Education
Both foster care workers and foster parents need to be educated well when parenting foster kids. And apart from ensuring that they are well-behaved and adapt to new environments, it’s equally important to pay attention to their mental, oral, and physical health. Go through past medical records and reports of health camps conducted at the school. You will get a lot of information that will help you understand the child better.
- Maintain Records Better
Foster care workers and foster parents should look adopt newer methods of maintaining records. Most people own smartphones and laptops today. So store information in the form of files and documents. Share the information with important family members so that care can be given in emergency situations. If the child already visits a particular dentist or has an ongoing treatment, gather as much information. Visit the dentist if required, to get a better idea about the child’s oral health.
- Visit Online Education Courses
There are many online foster care courses for foster parents. They provide affordable, accessible, and transformational. They help foster parents meet licensing requirements and empower them to better care for the kids they have brought into their home. Whether it’s a difficult behavior you’re dealing with, a trauma, or consumption of psychotropic medications, these courses will significantly help foster parents.
The dental health of foster kids is vital and make sure you do not miss out on regular appointments with a dentist. Common dental problems should be treated early, so that they do not surface at a later age. Inculcating good habits early will allow kids to be more responsible about their dental health. And they’ll enjoy the benefits for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental practice in Salem, MA. As the founder of Coral Dental Care, she is dedicated to creating healthy, beautiful smiles for her patients and also to educating dental and non-dental community with her engaging articles on all things related to oral health, recent dental innovations, and latest treatment modalities.