Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Good Hygiene Reduces Children’s Cavities

Local dentists suggest behavior modification

It may be challenging to imagine the scene described in the opening paragraph of a New York Times article about preschoolers as young as 2-and-a-half years old that undergo general anesthesia and surgery for the purpose of taking X-rays and having a pediatric dentist perform extractions, root canals, fillings and crowns. Hopefully, this vision is powerful enough to motivate parents to pursue ways to keep tooth decay at bay in their young child. While local dentists Roger Pint, DMD, owner of Bonita Dental Studio, in Bonita Springs, and Mark Corke, DDS, owner of Laser Dentistry, in Fort Myers, note that this may be challenging, they offer suggestions that can help parents to form good habits in their children early enough to avoid a mouthful of cavities.

“With my young patients, I emphasize the importance of minimizing an acidic environment, which means consuming less processed foods and sugary drinks, including juice. Parents control the development of their child’s habits. Changing habits falls under the category of behavior modification. We begin modifying behaviors by suggesting that parents minimize the child’s exposure time. An example would be drinking juice and finishing it in one setting. The same thing can be done with food by discouraging the eating of processed foods while watching TV, playing video games or reading. Minimizing the overall time during the day when the mouth is at a more acidic level, gives the teeth a chance to re-mineralize. This is good for the whole body. Parents who use this transition tool notice a difference and ultimately are able to change these habits and food choices over time,” says Pint.

Minimizing the overall time during the day when the mouth is at a more acidic level, gives the teeth a chance to re-mineralize. This is good for the whole body.

According to Corke, who embraces a holistic philosophy, another way to avoid childhood cavities is to have a newborn evaluated for a possible lip and tongue-tie even before they leave the hospital or soon afterwards. “In my opinion, there is only one way that breastfeeding can lead to dental decay. If a lip and tongue-tie is present, it creates a pocket where the breast milk will lie directly on baby teeth. It can also contribute to decay because the tongue is not free to help move food and keep the teeth clean. A child may dislike brushing his or her teeth because it hurts when the brush touches it,” explains Corke, who believes that a mother can breastfeed her child for as long as she wishes.  

Corke performs the lip and tongue-tie exam at any age. When it is present, he uses his dental laser to revise the tie with a simple procedure that takes only a few minutes. “A baby doesn’t need sedation to put them to sleep for the procedure,” he says.

“Before baby bottles became popular, tooth decay in baby teeth was rare. Baby bottle syndrome, caused by putting a baby to bed with a bottle or long-term exposure to a bottle during the day, is characterized by severe decay. Bottles filled with formula containing high-fructose corn syrup and/or other sweeteners, soda and juice should never be used as a pacifier. Allowing a baby to suck for hours at a time on a sippy cup filled with sugary fluids can have the same result,” advises Corke.

Bonita Dental Studio is located at 9200 Bonita Beach Rd. Ste. 111, in Bonita Springs. For more information call 239-676-8730 or visit BonitaDentalStudio.com.

Laser Dentistry is located at 1550 Matthew Dr., in Fort Myers. For more information call 239-936-5442 visit FortMyersLaserDentist.com.

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