The Modern American Family. Always on the go: soccer, piano, music lessons, karate, choir, youth group. Throw meals and school in there, too. Where does the time go???
Maybe in the future we can go to 30 hour days. Until then, many families are left running to and fro from obligations and extracurricular activities.
So, how did I associate Dentistry with the best boxer in modern history, and what does this have to do with the American family?
DEFENSE. The best way to combat most dental issues and complications is through incorporating preventative treatment into the day-to-day routine. And not just brushing and flossing...Here we go!
Primary (baby) teeth: if detected early, cavities in the baby teeth can be treated with minimally invasive procedures - small white fillings - instead of waiting until the cavity grows and the tooth starts hurting. KIDS HAVE BABY TEETH UNTIL THEY ARE 12 YEARS OLD, so instead of saying, "It's just a baby tooth. It will fall out. I'm not taking them for a filling", listen to the dentist and prevent it from growing. Decay in baby teeth can grow much faster than in permanent teeth. Many times a few months can be the difference between a filling and having to remove the tooth!
If the cavity grows until it's hurting your child, he or she may have to have a tooth removed because, unfortunately, we can't save every tooth. You're thinking, “So Doc, it’s a baby tooth. What’s the big deal if he loses it early?” If it MUST come out, doing a space maintainer may prevent complications with adult teeth coming in. If we don’t maintain the space, the permanent teeth may become blocked, causing much more complex problems down the road.
Permanent teeth: Sealants are a great way to prevent decay in permanent teeth. As suggested by their name, they “seal” the pits and fissures, preventing bacteria from destroying healthy tooth structure.
Developmental: Most people have heard of the terms overbite and underbite when it relates to teeth. Often times the general public can see the difference. In fact, the growth patterns of the jaws are affected genetically as well as behaviorally/habitually, so what are some ways to prevent growth and development issues?
-Thumb sucking: This is a habit that many kids outgrow. However, if they continue, it can cause the teeth and the bone to form abnormally, many times only correctable with braces and/or surgery.
-Tongue Thrust: During swallowing, many kids develop a habit of “thrusting” their tongue forward instead of to the roof of the mouth. If this goes undetected, it can cause teeth to flare, affecting the development of the bony structures
-Airway obstruction: There is a lot of research in the arena currently. However, the most obvious reason is enlarged tonsils and adenoids. A relatively easy procedure can allow much more restful sleep, leading to a healthier homeostasis, more wakeful mental clarity, and, wouldn't you know it, prevention of growth issues in the jaws. If untreated, airway obstruction may cause your child to breathe through his or her mouth, thereby affecting the growth of the upper and lower jaws.
-Constricted Nostrils: In the same manner, constricted nostrils can lead to mouth breathing during the day and at night. This can dictate how the jaws develop and how teeth can erupt.
If these patterns are caught early, they can be corrected much easier than when growth plates begin to fuse. A simple dental check up can save your child and your wallet from complex treatment down the road.
Thankfully research in dental science has provided us with better methods to preserve healthy tooth structure and identify developmental problems early. So, even with your busy schedules, try to keep dental visits a priority in your family. At Bateman Dentistry we know that the best offense is to stay on the defensive!
Cheers- Jake Bateman