By Dr. Randall LeDuke, DDS
Is it possible to guarantee your child will make it to adulthood equipped with a perfect functional dentition and a beautiful smile? Of course not.
But parents certainly can and should take steps to assure the best possible outcome for the development of a healthy dentition and your dentist and hygienist can help with guidance, education and monitoring.
The Importance of Fluoride
Arrival at adulthood with that beautiful healthy dentition is the end of a journey that begins at conception. The development of your child’s teeth begins prior to birth so prenatal care must include that most important building block for the creation of a strong dentition, the mineral fluoride. Unlike the other necessary components in the development of healthy teeth like calcium and phosphorus, fluoride is not naturally present in sufficient amounts in the foods we eat. Fluoride must be provided in supplement form by means of tablets, metered drops or chewables. Fluoride is added to many municipal water supplies and naturally occurs in ground water in some areas, but many pregnant women do not get this vital component and should take a SUPPLEMENT of at least 1 milligram of fluoride each day. After birth, the infant should continue to receive sufficient fluoride for the continuing development of strong, hard teeth, so a liquid supplement of fluoride should be continued.
Nutrition Plays a Major Role
There is overwhelming evidence to support the notion that nutrition plays a major role in the development of your child’s teeth. Babies do not need dessert as part of their feeding routine and refined carbohydrates, meaning sugar and the corn sweeteners found in most all commercially prepared foods and drinks, are awful for your young child’s developing teeth. The desire on the part of children for sweet things is a learned craving. Limit your child’s access to sweets by substituting healthy snacks. “No sugar” is not a punishment, it’s good parenting.
In addition to what they eat, it’s also important to consider how often they eat. Constant snacking during the day is not a good feeding routine. Children should be provided meals, after which they should brush, or at least, rinse their mouths with water, to clear food debris from the teeth. Sippy cups and nursing bottles that create a constant bath of potentially cavity-encouraging liquid in the mouth is a bad practice. If the child is put to bed with a bottle, it should contain only water. Even milk or fruit juices, although nutritious, are acidic enough to dissolve teeth over a period of time. These liquids should be drunk and swallowed, not allowed to bathe the teeth as in the practice of putting the child to bed with a bottle of liquid.
Your dentist should begin regular examinations of your child’s developing dentition by age two. Under bright examination conditions, we can inspect for developing decay lesions and identify potential growth problems. We can determine how well home hygiene is being administered and can advise on home care technique. Growth and bite irregularities should be detected early and interceptive therapies planned and executed at the proper timeframe and sequence.
Tooth decay is the primary disease of the young mouth. Cavities are caused by the acidic output of naturally occurring bacteria that live in all mouths. These bacteria absorb the carbohydrates we eat, process them and excrete the byproducts as an acid that dissolves tooth material. If we fail to clean our teeth properly, cavities develop. Eventually these decayed areas deepen and widen and lead to destruction of teeth causing infection and pain. Premature loss of baby teeth affects the development of the jaws and creates crowding problems that, in turn, lead to additional dental problems in the adult mouth.
In short, the development of your child’s best possible future adult dentition begins even before birth. Your dentist can provide you with information, advice and help so you, in turn, can provide your child with the great gift of a healthy and beautiful smile! Call us at 731-885-0497 for a complimentary consultation appointment. We can answer your questions about your dental treatment and we are here to help you.
Dr. Randall LeDuke is a graduate of the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. He is a past president of the Tennessee Academy of General Dentistry, (www.AGD.org) and has achieved AGD Master status, one of only 48 AGD Master dentists in Tennessee.
Dr. LeDuke holds his permit to administer Limited Conscious Sedation, having received training in this area through the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation. Cosmetic Dentistry is a passion with Dr. LeDuke. He is a member of the Tennessee Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and serves on its Board of Directors. Dr. LeDuke is a general dentist, not an Orthodontic Specialist. However, he has treated hundreds of children and adults within his dental practice over the past twenty-five years. Conventional braces, clear ceramic braces and clear aligner orthodontics (ClearCorrect.com and invisalign.com) are available at our office. Dr. LeDuke has a special interest in interceptive therapies for achieving improved development and alignment of the jaws of young, growing patients.
Please visit our website Smile Gallery at www.smilesbyleduke.com for some examples. Most dental services can be accessed within our office, eliminating the need for out-of-town referrals. Our patients appreciate Dr. LeDuke’s depth of experience and advanced training through years of continuing dental education.
For more information or a consultation
appointment with Dr. LeDuke, please call:
214 West Church
Union City, TN 38261