What does it mean to develop a “dental home” for your child? We all know it’s important to establish healthy oral hygiene habits at an early age, but what about developing a positive relationship with a dentist as well?
Many adults dread their dental appointments, but, if these grownups had had a positive connection with a dentist during their childhood, perhaps their opinion of dentistry would be quite different.
Dr. Jensen Turner of Pediatric Dentistry of Spartanburg and Gaffney recommended that a child see a pediatric dentist by 12 months of age in order to educate parents about the best ways to prevent cavities. He said many parents do not see the value in taking their children to the dentist early because “all their teeth are going to fall out anyway.”
“If I had a nickel for every time I heard that! If children have cavities, their chances of getting more cavities as adults increases. As a pediatric dentist, I want to see children early to establish healthy diets and good oral hygiene practices,” he said.
Baby teeth are not only important for nutrition, speech, growth and development – they also hold the space for permanent teeth to erupt. Dr. Turner explained that losing baby teeth too early can affect that space and cause other developmental growth problems. He urged that it is always easier to prevent than to treat.
“Sadly, there have been times that I had to meet children in the hospital to extract teeth and treat with fillings and crowns because they had so many cavities,” he warned, adding that those procedures can sometimes require general anesthesia.
Other than seeing a pediatric dentist every six months starting at age 12 months, he recommended that parents brush and floss their children’s teeth and establish a diet low in sugars.
“Eating and drinking things that are higher in sugar content and with sticky consistency can lead to an increased risk for cavities,” he said, adding that drinking liquids with high sugar content can cause cavities as well.
Routine is important, according to Dr. Turner.
“Try to brush their teeth at the same time every day. A good rule of thumb is that parents need to assist with brushing if children still need help tying their shoes, which typically happens around 6 to 8 years old.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that although dental caries are largely preventable, they remain the most common chronic disease in children and adolescents from ages 6 to 19.
Dr. Turner said that cavities can lead to other issues. For example, children with dental pain have a tendency to perform poorly in school.
Even worse, untreated cavities can lead to life-threatening infections.
“I need to see children at a young age to get a handle on any cavities they may have. I once had a young patient who developed a brain abscess due to severe tooth decay,” Dr. Turner said.
The medical professionals at Pediatric Dentistry of Spartanburg and Gaffney work with patients to pay for necessary treatment because Dr. Turner does not want to turn any child away.
“Every child deserves to have a healthy smile. It starts with education on the importance of proper oral hygiene as it relates to overall health. As a pediatric dentist, I want them to establish a good dental home, which every child needs,” he said.
For more information on Pediatric Dentistry of Spartanburg and Gaffney, visit www.carolinakidzdental.com or call 864-641-3341.
By Theresa Stratford