I’m a practising paediatric dentist and I once heard this in my dental office between a dad and his 5-year-old daughter...
Dad: Hey sweetie, you know you’ve got lots of holes in your teeth that needs fixing. You have two options, do you want to get a shot at your gums then get your teeth fixed or do you want to go to sleep and the dentist will fix all of your teeth for you while you’re asleep?
Daughter: Go to sleep.
End of discussion. I think I gave an incredulous look when the dad directed that question to his little girl. I hope he didn’t see that. But then, there were so many questions running in my head at that moment. How do you allow your child to make such an important decision? Do they know the risks involved? How did the child get to this stage in the first place? Did the father not hear anything else during the consultation?
I attribute this to the lack of dental awareness. Dental health, especially in children is very underrated. Till today, many developed countries are reporting 40-50% dental decay prevalence in young children. Granted baby teeth do not last forever in the mouth, but the problems that dental decay can afflict in a child are tremendous and cumulative. Dental decay causes cavities which then gives rise to poor appetite, toothache and swelling (big, fat infection) in some severe cases. The resultant treatment is usually extraction or some complex treatment that will freak the child (and maybe parents) out. The disease, the consequences and the treatment all affect the development of the child in the long run, be it the growth, nutrition, speech and psychological well-being.
I hope that my posts will bring awareness and educate parents/caregivers on child dental health. No doubt fillings, nerve treatment and medication can solve toothache in most cases…but why go through all that when dental decay is very preventable. The real success to whatever dental treatment lies in a good oral home care, and it pays to start it right from an early age. Rather than having to change habits, start with the right habits.