Ask the Dentistry Expert – Scott Van Dam
Treating Children`s Teeth
There have been so many exciting advancements in dentistry. Today most tooth problems can be easily treated without causing anxiety or pain. These advancements in dentistry, combined with an increased enthusiasm by patients wanting to keep their mouth healthy, has resulted in a drastic reduction of cavities that adults in North America have to worry about. Hopefully for our children dentures will become a thing of the past.
Unfortunately though, it appears that tooth decay in North American Children is actually on the rise! At a recent Pediatric Dentistry Conference that I attended many experts speculated on the many hundreds of factors that could be contributing to this problem. Potential caused included; decline in fluoride use, changes in diet, medications or disease during pregnancy, changes in decay causing bacteria, and even that maybe we are merely finding more decay because patients are better educated. It’s a complicated and controversial topic.
Although we don’t have a definitive answer as to why Early Childhood Caries is on the rise one thing is very clear… we are able to treat it successfully and often prevent it from affecting the adult teeth.
So why treat baby teeth? Tooth decay is ultimately an infection where bacteria able to eat sugar or carbohydrates produce acid which slowly dissolves the crystal structure of the tooth. This can lead to pain and tooth loss. In turn, reduced chewing ability, poorer diet and development, self-esteem issues, space loss, crowding and speech problems to name a few. Worse, it could spread to the adult teeth if untreated. There is also the potential that mouth infections could affect other systems of the body like the brain or heart.
Some things that we can do to help: parents are urged to start brushing Baby’s teeth with a thin smear of tooth paste as soon as the tooth appears. A healthy diet is always advised. Sealants (thin protective tooth coatings), dental cleanings and fluoride all help keep teeth healthy. Dentists are here to help. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first dental visit be no later than 12 months or within 6 months of when the first tooth appears.
Dentists are committed to fighting Early Childhood Caries so that our kids will have healthy mouths that feel great and positive dental experiences. Kids are so much fun in our dental practice. I find kids love to tell me stories about their favorite movie or pet when they are in the office . We make sure they have a positive experience and I make sure to have them tell their parents/friends how well they did. They are always so proud of themselves and think this a great idea! Happy kids with healthy mouths prevents pain and future costly problems. This makes dentists, kids and parents all happy.
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