Expert Commentary: Dr. Ozzie E. Smith III 12/17/09

Dental disease is definitely a large problem with children in this demographic, which include black, Hispanic, disabled, uninsured or HIV-positive.  With all of the preventative measures that can be taken to insure that your teeth remain intact, there is no reason that the level of decay seen in this population should be allowed to progress to such an advanced state.    One reason that this dental neglect is allowed to progress is because the prevention aspect of dentistry is completely overlooked in many of these households.  Pain, or the need to have a school physical dental form filled out, too often tend to be the only motivators to bring these kids in for treatment.   All children should come in to see the dentist as soon as the teeth begin to grow in the mouth. 

At our clinic, the first visit is primarily a conversation with the parents to educate them as how to properly care for their child’s developing teeth.  The tragedy is that most dental disease in children is caused by ignorance.  Many of the parents just don’t have an idea as to the damage that can be caused not only to the primary teeth, but to the permanent teeth by improper home care, poor diet, and sporadic visits to the dentist.

We feel that good dental hygiene is also a good indication of other health factors in general. If parents are teaching themselves and their children how to take care of their teeth, they are most likely also teaching them about good eating habits -- how to avoid too many sweets and too many fatty, calorie laden foods.  There have been several studies, including one from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. that point to the relationship between tooth decay and obesity. 

No question as the old adage points out: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." .


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Dr. William Esh
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243 West End Ave
New York City, NY 10023

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