As a pediatric dentist, the largest single challenge that we face does not come in the form of rare disease or children’s special developmental needs. The largest problem that most kid dentists face is the idea, which too many parents have, that children do not need to visit the dentist on a regular basis. The same parents that are often incredibly diligent about visiting the doctor, getting shots, and going in for regular checkups tend to forget that much of your health begins in the mouth. In a recent study, children of or under the age of one were studied; the study found that parents had taken their children to the pediatrician, at least once, in 89% of the children studied. When you look at oral health, only 1.5% of these kids had been in to a kid dentist. This is an alarming statistic as there are a growing number of cases of children with childhood decay, also known as pediatric dental disease. We have found that in children between the ages of two and five, decay can be found at a rate of 25%. When you increase the age of the children to between twelve and fifteen, the percentage of cases jumps to 50%. Half the children in middle school suffer from pediatric dental disease: something that is completely preventable with the right kind of care and allowing us to see your children’s teeth at a young age.
For a kid’s dentist, we are able to build on the work we start early to ensure that they have fewer problems as they age. Effort towards holistic preventative care allows your child to come in for a quick 15 minute checkup and cleaning rather than have discomfort and emergency dental treatment. On the whole, we have found, and studies confirm, that parents who chose to spend the money on preventative care tend to spend less in emergency care later on. The ratio of savings is quite significant: parents who spent $1 on preventative care later save up to $50 in emergency costs later in the child’s life. In addition to the monetary savings, we found that each year, school children in the United States miss 2.26 million days of school because they are in the dentist chair for an emergency or restorative procedure. This is a situation that can be completely avoided by following simple rules like the 2-2-2 rule and bringing your child in as soon as they turn one or as soon as they get their first tooth.
The 2-2-2 rule is simple, and should be followed by parents and children alike. You need to brush your teeth at least two times per day, for a minimum of two minutes each time you brush, and you should visit your dentist at least 2 times per year for cleaning and maintenance. We also recommend that your child eat a healthy diet that includes lean protein, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, and nuts. This will help to strengthen their teeth. Also, your child should drink plenty of water to keep their teeth clean and healthy.