Thursday, March 15, 2012

Childhood Decay on the Increase...Three Keys to Control the Problem

A recent New York Times article "Preschoolers in Surgery for a Mouthful of Cavities" highlighted the growing problem of severe tooth decay among youngsters. Putting off routine exams and unhealthy habits can lead to an expensive solution for mostly preventable problems. There are three keys to keeping a kid's mouth (and grown-ups too!) healthy in a cost effective manner.
  1. Early Detection - Modern diagnostic techniques such as high magnification, Diagnodent laser decay detection, or Spectra fluorescence decay detection help the dentist to find decay at its earliest. These systems detect decay long before the old fashioned dental explorer detect the proverbial "stick".
  2. Early Intervention - Early decay can be managed a multitude of ways once detected. These techniques include non -invasive approaches such as topical fluoride, topical calcium, sealants, and dietary changes. More advanced caries that need fillings are much easier to provide with a better prognosis the sooner they are detected. We treat most of these in our office using the laser and no needle or drill is required. This approach is much less traumatic for the child.
  3. Healthy Habits- Frequent carbohydrate exposure such as juice in sippy cups is a primary culprit in the explosion of childhood decay. Decay bacteria need frequent carbohydrates to create the acid that destroys enamel. A healthy diet and good oral hygiene habits help kids grow and keep strong teeth. It is no accident that the rise in childhood obesity has accompanied this increase in dental problems.