Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Toothy Tuesdays: Baby teeth.
We were running out of Toothy Tuesday material, but this past week and a half of pediatric dentistry has given PLSB plenty of material to share. I'll just cut to the chase:
-Baby teeth are important! They are necessary for chewing, looking good and guiding the permanent teeth into place. As soon as a kid gets any teeth in their mouth they must be brushed or wiped.
-Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle. Sugar and milk marinating on the baby's teeth all night equals mucho, mucho cavities.
-Start transitioning away from a bottle, pacifier or thumb when the kid is a year old so that all the suckling motions won't interfere with expected development of the roof of the mouth and positioning of the teeth.
-Only drink juice, soda, gatorade, etc at meal times. Eating and chewing stimulates saliva release, naturally cleansing the mouth. In between meals, when saliva isn't flowing as much, acidic drinks keep the mouth at a bacteria friendly pH, never letting the mouth get back to neutral. Water is the best thing, especially water straight from the tap that contains fluoride. (This bullet is for adults too).
-Kids only need a dot of toothpaste--the size of a grain of rice. Kids also need help and supervision brushing.
-And as my classmate said, "if you love your child, you won't let their teeth rot." Seriously, you may have to hold a kid down, but you are doing more harm by not brushing and soaking their sweet little teeth in sugary acid. We've seen countless three year olds come in with a) rotted out numbs of teeth or b) a mouth full of silver crowns, even on the front teeth. Not to mention the poor little babes with swollen faces due to abscesses around their teeth (this can actually be quite the emergency situation).
-Extensive dental work is not done on a kid as it might be on an adult. Even the best behaved children might be simply too young to handle long and noisy dental appointments. Thus, to avoid further infection they might need to be sedated or actually sent to the operating room. You can imagine that sedation and general anesthesia would be stressful for all parties involved and should be avoided.
After the first day of my summer pediatric rotation I decided specializing in pediatrics is probably not for me. I definitely want to treat kids in my general practice, but only the GOOD kids. I was really touched this morning when the father of a patient handed me the drawing I posted above. It's easy to get discouraged when working with patients or parents of patients who don't know how to care and/or aren't willing to do their part, but this guy made my week! He was a magnificent father and an obviously talented artist. I've never gotten anything half as nice from a patient.