Do you have children in need of a dentist? Here at Rogers Family Dental, a leading dental practice in Greeneville, Tennessee, we love treating kids of all ages, and we have a passion for making sure that your children have a great experience here at our office. We want to share 5 things that you may not know about pediatric dental care along with some strategies we use to give kids a great smile!
1) Tooth decay has become the number one most prevalent disease in children. Tooth decay is five times more common in children that asthma. Over 40% of all children by age 11 have had tooth decay. This is a depressing statistic. The good news is this: decay can be prevented! Our dental office in Greeneville, TN works very hard to educate parents and kids about prevention of tooth decay and to provide tools that can reduce your child’s risk for cavities.
2) Children need to come to the dentist earlier than they have in the past. New recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry state that all children should be seen at a dental office before age 1. By this age, children have their first teeth and habits at home become incredibly important. At this first visit, we do not aim to clean the teeth as with older children. Our focus is first to do an examination to check for decay and to ensure that all teeth are present and in the right locations. Then, we spend time evaluating and discussing things like diet, nutrition, and daily oral hygiene procedures that can be used at home to reduce risk for decay. A simple paint-on fluoride treatment may be provided to reduce decay risk. This visit is more like a well-child visit with the pediatrician. We find that this early visit does a lot to prevent seeing patients at age three with a mouthful of cavities that can sometimes need much more involved work.
3) New techniques for prevention have been discovered. Fluoride is still our #1 tool in fighting tooth decay, but other new tools have shown promise in cavity prevention. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in many water supplies that strengthens teeth, but some people that have well water or other non-fluoridated water may not be getting enough fluoride on their teeth. Fluoride supplements are sometimes needed for children in these cases. Besides fluoride, new research has shown promise for xylitol as a prevention for decay. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is similar to sugar. Xylitol has been shown in some studies to reduce the numbers of cavity-causing bacteria and to prevent transmission of cavity causing bacteria from parents to children. Also, other promising preventives such as licorice root extract have been incorporated into candies that have been shown to reduce cavity risk. Our hygienists and dentists here at Rogers Family Dental can give you guidance as to which of these tools is right for your child.
4) The importance of having a great first experience at the dentist is more important than ever. If a child has a bad experience at an early age in the dental office, it can stick with them for a long time. Our office works very hard to make sure that each child leaves our office feeling comfortable, excited, and confident that they can come back again and do a great job. This is not an easy task, however, for some kids! We have a lot of tools that we use to make kids feel more comfortable. We use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) sedation to relax children (and adults!). We have television screens in each room that they can watch along with headphones they can wear to reduce anxiety with loud noises. We have handheld video game systems they can play while they wait. If cavities do need to be restored, we make sure that our child patients are very nice and numb (we call it putting the tooth to sleep) before we work. We make sure that we use a light touch and work quickly and efficiently to make visits quick so that kids don’t have to wait. Parents are always welcome in the room to watch as we work.
5) We understand that the health of parents’ mouths affects their child’s risk for decay. We have come a long way over the years in learning what causes cavities. For years, we wondered why it is that we see some families that have children that seem to always get decay, some that get no decay at all, but yet in others still, one child gets cavities and the other gets none despite the same diet and habits? For years, there was a thought that decay risk was actually genetically inherited. We now know that this is not true (except in very rare hereditary diseases which involve enamel formation). The true reason for this variation has to do with the nature of tooth decay bacteria. Because tooth decay is a bacterial infection, we have learned through scientific research that it can be passed from person to person. Parents that have had a history of tooth decay (especially if they have untreated cavities in their mouths) can pass the cavity-causing bacteria to their children early in life. This can happen by doing things like sharing a spoon with a child before they eat with it. When a 1 year old child gets these bacteria at such a young age, cavity risk goes way up. This is one important reason that parents (especially of young children) need to have excellent dental health. If parents are cavity-free, there is a better chance their children will be too!
If you or your family need dental care, our doctors and staff here at Rogers Family Dental in Greeneville, TN can provide you with world-class dentistry with a hometown touch. We would love to see you and your children and provide you with a place to call your dental home. Call us to schedule an appointment today!