Comprehensive oral care at an early age is no longer just something that seems like an obviously good idea. Research and scientific studies are finding alarming evidence that neglecting to take childhood oral health seriously is having lost lasting impacts on the health of children well into their adult years.
Dr. Martin Abelar, San Diego Cosmetic Dentist, says,
"A lot of people think that they baby teeth aren’t important. That’s not good. If you lose a baby tooth early, it affects the development of the jaw and the development of the face, that means, there is less room for teeth down the road when the permanent teeth come in. "
According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 children (20%) aged 5 to 11 have at least one untreated decaying tooth. In 2014, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry released their first "State of Little Teeth Report." The report found that early childhood caries (ECC), a disease of rapid tooth decay, is the most common disease young children are facing today.
They list the dangers associated with ECC:
-Damage to permanent teeth
-Vulnerable to more oral diseases throughout lifetime
-Poor sleeping habits
-Challenges in social development
-Impact on speech development
-School performance can be affected
The concern doesn’t end with one visit to the dentist. Simply getting emergency childhood dental care for things like cavities or chipped teeth does not protect children from long-term issues if not maintained. Abelar is finding this misconception concerning.
"One thing I’ve noticed is that people really underestimate the value of family dentistry. It starts with the baby teeth. Every bit of work you do even on the baby teeth has to be maintained properly the patient’s whole life. If baby teeth aren’t maintained properly, things will start to change as they get to adulthood. They will lose the bite, they will loose too much tooth structure, they will lose a tooth altogether. What happens early on in life really makes a difference as to the type of work that’s needed later on in life. "
"The State of Little Teeth Report" found many solutions to combating this tooth decay epidemic that is facing the children of the nation
-early oral health routines
-first dental visits in infancy
-establishing a routine of dental visits every six months or more -‘Home Dentist’: that is a dentist that your family builds and maintains a relationship with
-‘Home Dentist’: that is a dentist that your family builds and maintains a relationship with
Abelar stresses the importance of a close relationship with a dentist that can see a child through all their dental concerns and changes.
"I do a lot of complicated, full mouth reconstruction and complicated full mouth restoration dentistry. And, I’m looking at these patients, and I’m seeing why they need this work. If I had this patient when they were a child and I could maintain them the way they needed to be maintained, we wouldn’t be doing this expensive treatment right now", he says.
Comprehensive dental care from infancy to adulthood is imperative in maintaining overall health. Good habits begin in childhood and can make a lasting impact on the lifestyle and health over the entire lifespan of a child.