I love dentistry and I love what I do because of the patients I have gotten to know over the years. As your local Meridian dentist, my job is to take care of the teeth of my friends. That is why I love dentistry.
Peterson Family Dentistry has a lot of families as patients. I love families. I love seeing kids, teaching them about oral hygiene and doing braces and Invisalign treatments to straighten teeth. I even love to take out wisdom teeth.
I was talking to a mother who has been a patient for years about the oral hygiene of her son who is 12 years old. To put it nicely, his oral hygiene was suboptimal. There was plaque all over his teeth. Plaque is made up of huge colonies of millions of bacteria that produce acid and rot teeth away. This kid not only had plaque, but because the plaque had stayed on the teeth for so long, the minerals of the mouth had calcified the bacterial colony, making it even harder to get off the teeth and having much more potential to do damage to the child’s teeth.
And then there were the cavities. This boy has cavities in every single permanent molar and in three of his premolars – 11 CAVITIES IN PERMANENT TEETH AT THE AGE OF 12. This makes me sad. These are all permanent teeth he needs to have in his mouth until he is 90 or older! Some of these teeth have been in his mouth for less than a year. This amount of decay at the age of 12 will cost this child throughout his life thousands of dollars in dental bills.
Patient education is something we pride ourselves on here at Peterson Family Dentistry. Here was a great opportunity to educate this boy and his mother in proper oral hygiene and why it is so important. That is my job and I take it seriously. The easy way out would have been to point out the cavities, smile, tell him to brush better, and then leave.
Instead, I took advantage of the time with both son and mother. Without being harsh, I explained that the current home care was unacceptable and the damage to the permanent teeth is something that can be fixed with fillings, but not undone. I told him that all soda drinking had to stop immediately. Then I did something crazy.
I looked at the mom and said, “You need to start brushing and flossing your child’s teeth every night because of the problems that have already happened and to prevent further damage.”
The mother looked at me like I was an alien. She stared at me in disbelief and said, “He is 12 years old.” I responded, “I have a 12 year old boy who is in braces. I brush and floss his teeth after he is done brushing and flossing himself at least three to four times per week in order to preserve and protect his teeth.”
If you are a parent and your child is getting cavities, this is my recommendation. After your child has finished brushing and flossing with you in the room, then you should take a turn brushing and flossing his/her teeth.
Last night I told my kids to go up and get ready for bed and brush and floss their teeth. I came upstairs about 20 minutes later and they were in their pajamas, but my 12, 9, and 7-year old kids had not brushed or flossed because they were distracted and playing. Even I, a dentist, have kids who still need supervision when it comes to their oral care. This is one thing that we can do as parents to help our children to stay cavity-free and instill a lifetime of good oral care habits.