The importance of good dental health
By Dr. Lance Kisby
Special to the Star Journal
February was Dental Health Month. What better time to talk about dental health. Good dental health has an impact on a person’s overall health.
Despite advances in dental prevention in the last 50 years, dental cavities is the most common childhood disease in the world. It is five times more common than asthma, four times more common than childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes. The number one reason children miss school is dental pain!
As a pediatric dentist, parents ask why I fill decayed baby teeth. Children have baby teeth so they can eat properly to grow and develop normally. Removing decay prevents pain, maintains esthetics, and keeps baby teeth until they normally fall out which will decrease the time and cost of orthodontic treatment.
Gum disease! Its mildest form is gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, the gum pocket around the tooth deepens and eventually the bone around the tooth starts to disappear. The tooth gets loose and possibly falls out. Gum disease has been associated with a 2-3 times increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or serious cardiovascular attack. Gum disease also creates increased overall generalized inflammation throughout the whole body and has been linked with increased atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Signs of gum disease include: loose teeth, bad breath, gums that bleed easily, and a hard-brown buildup along the gum line. These are some of the effects oral health has on the mouth-whole body connection. Here are some ways to improve the quality of oral health.
Dental Check-Up: For children, the first dental visit should be six months of age but no later than 12 months of age and twice a year after that. For adults, see your dentist twice a year. Studies have shown that just doing this changes the bacterial flora of the mouth and decreases the chance of caries.
Prevention: The twice a year fluoride treatment is not for children anymore. As adults age, they tend to take more medications which can dry the mouth. This decrease in saliva is a risk factor for decay. All patients, adults and children, who take medications that dry the mouth should be on a regimen of fluoride rinses or toothpastes with higher levels of fluoride than the over the counter toothpastes. Children living in non-fluoridated areas or drinking well water need to be placed on daily chewable fluoride tablets. For every 1 dollar of fluoride spent, there is a $40 savings in dental bills.
Diet: Avoid sticky foods such as fruit roll-ups and candy, gummy treats and gummy vitamins, sugary drinks like soda, clear juices, Hi-C, and apple juice.
Sealants: Applying sealants on the four six-year molars at age six and the 12-year molars at age 12 have been shown to be effective in preventing decay.
Good oral health improves your quality of life, so remember:
Be true to your teeth and they won’t be false to you.
Lance Kisby DMD FASDC FAAPD MAGD is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist with over 40 years of clinical and teaching experience and currently works at the Peter Christensen Dental Clinic at Lac Du Flambeau.