Pediatric Dentists: The Tooth Fairy’s Best Friend
There has long been a stigma against dentists — their tools make worrisome sounds, they force us into uncomfortable positions, and they always find out if we haven’t been perfect in our dental hygiene. And yet, did you know that the pediatric dentist is on the front lines when it comes to fighting the most common childhood disease? It’s true; when it comes to the dental health of our children, tooth decay is the big bad buy. But our pediatric dentistry practice is committed to ensuring that Utah’s children have a reason to smile wide.
Why is Pediatric Dentistry so Important?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child’s first visit to the dentist should be as close to their first birthday as possible, regardless of how many teeth they have. Since most children’s teeth don’t start breaking through until 6 months, there’s a chance that they may only be sporting one tooth when they see the dentist for the first time. One might wonder if it is a bit premature to start taking kids to the clinic that early, but pediatric dentists universally agree that getting into the habit of seeing them from the first tooth is the best way to combat the pandemic of childhood tooth decay and gum disease.
What makes a child so susceptible to these diseases? There are numerous factors:
- The false belief that only candy causes tooth decay. In reality, foods like bread and crackers — a staple for kids! — are the biggest culinary culprits.
- Cavities are contagious. Yes, you read that right. The microorganisms that feed on the enamel of the teeth can be passed between children, as well as between parents and their children. In fact, over 70% of reported tooth decay cases are caused by a baby getting a cavity directly from their mother. Parents, don’t forget to brush your teeth!
- Parents didn’t take the child to the dentist when they turned one. We’ve mentioned this already, but why is it so important? Statistics show that children who don’t visit a pediatric dentist before their two or three years old will have more preventable issues and emergency visits in their lifetime than those who go when they turn one.
- The belief that baby teeth aren’t as important, since they’ll fall out anyway. Not only can baby teeth improperly cared for cause unnecessary pain and humiliation for the child, but kids don’t lose their gums as they turn older. It is very easy for bad teeth to start affecting the surrounding gum area and further into the mouth and throat. In extreme cases, this disease could lead to death!
How are Pediatric Dentists Helping Utah Kids?
So, the question is: how are we doing in Utah? Happily, Utah is above average when it comes to dental hygiene. A 2015 study found the following:
- According to Utah dentists, 40% of people have “good” dental health, while 36% have “very good” health. On the other side of the scale, only 10% of people were labeled as having “bad” oral health.
- Only 13% of low-income adults report having poor oral health.
- Of people polled, 93% believe it’s important to see a dentist at least once a year, while 84% believe going twice a year is even better.
While these numbers are exceptional, we’re not out of the woods yet; 25% of Utahns feel uncomfortable smiling due to bad teeth. That’s where pediatric dentistry comes in. Getting a child in the habit of taking care of their teeth daily because they will see a dentist at least once a year will keep Utah mouths smiling brightly.