Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Inadequate Dental Care for Preschoolers in Canada

An interesting article came out from the Canadian Institute of Health Research regarding preschoolers and inadequate dental care.  The study ran from September 2011 to January 2013 and found that less than 1% of children received adequate dental care as recommended by 12 months of age.

It’s a common misconception that baby teeth are not important to the development of permanent teeth but important to know that's entirely false. Infected baby teeth can cause malformation and discoloration of permanent teeth; not to mention significant pain for the child.

Oral hygiene when younger is incredibly important in creating the bacterial biofilm that adult teeth will be introduced to. Once you have a specific mix of cavity producing bacteria established in the oral environment it can be extremely challenging to change it over time.

The Canadian Dental Association recommends that a child come see the dentist at around age 1 but statistically the Journal of Pediatrics shows less than 2% of kids have seen a dentist by 24 months.

Are we going to do treatment on a 2 year old? No but we can notice if there are the start of cavities that are beginning to develop and where it can be important for parents to focus their brushing habits.

I have had 3 year olds that have been neglected, left to suck on baby bottles all night, that we have had to send for treatment at BC Children’s hospital for treatment under general anaesthesia to address cavities. Don’t think just because your child never complains of pain that everything is OK. It’s important to have a trained professional look and assess.

In situations where there is pain dental health complications can be significant:
  1. Difficulty eating
  2. Poor nutrition
  3. Poor growth
  4. Difficulty sleeping
  5. Behavioral difficulties
The most common surgical procedure performed in hospitals is extracting teeth in preschoolers. If these cavities can be caught earlier then these teeth could be saved.

It’s also important that pediatricians and family doctors provide counseling and do preliminary screening on all preschoolers to assess a childs risk of dental disease. If there are any potential problems spotted then a child can be sent to a dentist for an immediate evaluation.


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