San Diego Moms: What I Learned About My Child’s Teeth
I’ve always thought teeth are high maintenance. The process of brushing, flossing, and gargling while making sure you get your checkups done twice a year can be exhausting. Then you have kids and double work. But, over the years, I’ve learned that dental care isn’t just about cosmetics or having choppers to eat delicious food — it’s about your overall health.
Now my knowledge of dental care, and more importantly my children’s teeth, has improved thanks to the new book “If Your Mouth Could Talk” by local orthodontist and dentofacial orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kami Hoss. Hoss, who is also the founder of The Super Dentists, breaks down every element of dental health, from how it affects your breathing to your confidence and, most importantly, your overall health.
Here are some excerpts of what I learned about children’s teeth.
- Tooth decay, the disease that causes cavities, is the most common chronic disease in children. And tooth decay in children is four times more common than childhood obesity, five times more common than asthma and 20 times more common than diabetes!
- California children miss 874,000 days of school each year due to dental issues.
- When your baby is teething, it’s best to stay away from medications and oral gels. Hoss recommends using safe teethers that have been refrigerated (not frozen). But, he cautions to read about the product before giving it to your baby. In fact, the FDA issued a warning on teething necklaces after an 18-month-old child was unfortunately strangled by one.
- The enamel of baby teeth is thinner than that of permanent teeth and the pulp is larger, so tooth decay can spread to the nerve faster. Hoss recommends wiping your child’s gums and teeth with damp cotton gauze after feeding to remove sugar and bacteria that could cause cavities.
- Hoss recommends considering seeing a pediatric dentist before your baby is born so you know what to expect. In fact, I wish I had done it before my children were born because by the time they arrive, it’s hard to catch up on learning.
- Finally, if you are planning to have a baby, go to the dentist for a check-up because unhealthy gums can actually lead to infertility! Hoss said the presence of a common periodontal bacteria in saliva that indicates poor oral health was three times more common in women who did not become pregnant and was associated with a significantly increased risk of infertility.
After reading Hoss’ latest book, I had to ask him more questions about how to make sure your kids get the best dental care. Here is what he said.
How should parents decide what type of dental insurance to purchase? Parents should assess the specific needs of each family member and obtain insurance that matches the needs. For example, if there is a child who may need orthodontic treatment soon, it would be useful if the insurance covered orthodontics.
What do you recommend for parents who do not have access to dental insurance? Should they set aside a certain amount of money each month for dental care? Parents should remember that for every dollar invested in preventative care (like using the right oral care products and making brushing and flossing a priority), they should expect savings of $8 to $50 (an average of $30) in restorative care alone. As for insurance, parents should research their employer’s insurance plans and see if dental coverage may be included. For low-income families, Medicaid is available in California and many pediatric dentists (including The Super Dentists) accept it. Finally, some dental offices have their own membership programs that work similarly to dental insurance.
I was told that the general recommendation on how often to see a dentist is every six months. What is your recommendation for children? Every 3-6 depending on age and risk factors. This is a decision that should be made jointly by the parents and the pediatric dentist based on the particular needs of the child.
What should parents consider when choosing a pediatric dentist? Their reputation, how long they’ve been practicing, the technologies used in the office, the calming techniques they use, the training of team members, the fun amenities the office offers, cost and payment options, and especially how much their child enjoys visiting since it is important to establish a positive association with their oral care early on.
How can you prepare a young child for a dentist, especially if they have sensory challenges? Pediatric dentists are trained and equipped to see children with varying needs. It is important for parents to talk with their children about going to the dentist in a positive way, such as when taking their child to a fun place like a restaurant or a cinema, and that it does not bring stress or anxiety about their appointments.
“If Your Mouth Could Talk” is currently available on Amazon. For more information about Hoss, visit drkamihoss.com.
San Diego Moms is published every Saturday. Do you have a story idea? Email [email protected] and follow her on Instagram at @hoawritessd.