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To Dentist or Not To Dentist...

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I've been thinking about taking my kids (3 and 5) to the dentist. They have never been. I've been reading quite a bit on here about cavities found in small children and toddlers, even babies! What I'm wondering, though, is if these kinds of cavities have been happening to kids for eons, and it is only with increased trips to dentists that they are being noticed? My parents didn't take any of us to the dentist until we had our second teeth. Same for EVERYONE I know. Maybe it was a money thing, maybe they just weren't so medically inclined back then. My teeth are great. Always have been. I've been to the dentist twice in the last twenty years. No cavities.

 

So what did YOUR parents do? Did you see the dentist before your adult teeth came in? Did you have cavities? Did they get filled?

post #2 of 22

I saw a dentist on a regular schedule growing up and had many preventative procedures, as an adult I have had 2 minor cavities. My dh did not see a dentist and as an adult has only been a handful of times and does not have any cavities. My view is that it is a combination of genes and environment. People in my family have 'bad' teeth. Many cavities, root canals, crowns, even dentures. My husband's family is split about down the middle, some with excellent teeth, others with many many problems.

post #3 of 22
It's not that increased trips to the dentist mean that cavities are being noticed, increased trips to the dentist means that cavities can be treated so that the teeth don't rot out. Which is fairly common places that don't have good sources of water, and where people can't seek medical care.
post #4 of 22

We brought our youngest dd to the dentist at age 2.5 and her molars were already full of cavities to the point that they crowned 4 of them.  We had been cleaning her teeth since she got them, and altho she nursed herself to sleep she didn't go to sleep with apple juice or anything in her mouth - the dentist said that she has a genetic issue with her teeth that makes them cavity prone.  We did the same thing with our older daughter and had no issues.  So, while I'm sure for some kids that it doesn't matter, I'd say go to be safe. 

post #5 of 22

We took DS to the dentist at 2, but by then it was already obvious to us that he has a ton of cavities. His front teeth had rotted so badly that one of them chipped in half and his molars with rotting away to nothing as well. The dentist told us that his teeth were demineralized, something that most likely happened while the teeth were forming while I was pregnant. I had horrible morning sickness, lost 10 lbs in the first trimester, and I also got a sinus infection while I was pregnant. Only his top teeth are like this, the bottom teeth are 100%. So far his from teeth on top are capped, he has 2 stainless steel crowns, and a handful of fillings. He will need another dental surgery and possibly 2 more crowns next month. His 2 year molars came in fine and then the same thing happened, they just rotted away within 6 months of fully emerging. 

 

As for myself, my parents didn't take me to see the dentist until I started school, so I was around 6. I went to the dentist regularly and I didn't have a single cavity until I was in my early 20s. Since then I've had a handful of cavities, which I've always had filled.

 

 

post #6 of 22

I didn't see a dentist until I was 10yo and I had no cavities at that point.

 

I waited until ds was 4yo and dd2yo; they both had caveties and dd had to have her work done in a hospital (particularly for the caps) because she needed so much done and was so young. I was actually more careful with brushing dd's teeth and she only drank bm and water and still had worse teeth. They seem to have inherited dh's weak enamel.

post #7 of 22

All my kids start going as soon as they turn 3. DD1 by then already had 5 cavities. She has very poor enamel on her teeth at at 9 years of age has had probably 11 cavities filled, and a root canal with a crown. DD2 is 5 and just had her first 2 cavities filled. DS1 goes in next month for the first time the week he turns 3. Poor dental care, unresolved cavities in baby teeth, can damage the adult teeth behind them. We all go in every 6 months. I have had poor dental health since I was a child despite doing everything "right", my parents spend thousands on my mouth. I do not take healthy teeth for granted. You only get one set of adult teeth! 

post #8 of 22

Our dentist is really great about weighing the chances that the tooth will fall out before the cavity gets bad.  Remember that most of those teeth will be in there for a long time, even though they are temporary.  And if there is a cavity, it can be painful.  Going to the dentist young for routine exams (you can skip the xrays) gets them used to the chair and the dentist and the assistant poking around in their mouths.  The first time to the dentist will hopefully not be for getting a filling!  

 

My 7yo is terrified of needles, so we do some prevention like sealants on molars (BPA-free, though I'm still not thrilled).  Those molars will be in there a long time and I think it is the best thing in her case to avoid needing fillings (the sealant was recommended just for her particular situation.  They weren't trying to talk me into it for no reason.)  She has had no cavities.  My 5yo has has 2 small fillings because her teeth were aching terribly.  At her age, they only need about one little shot of anasthetic.

 

Yeah, I didn't go to the dentist much, either, neither did my parents, but looking at their teeth and mine I don't think that was necessarily a great thing, either.  

post #9 of 22

I don't remember when I first went to the dentist but my father had been a dental tech in the Navy and was always on us about our dental health. 

 

I took DD1 to the dentist with me when she was 2.5. They wouldn't treat her that young but she got to ride up and down in the chair, they counted her teeth, and gave her both a prize and a super cool new toothbrush. I wanted her to have a good initial relationship with the dental team because she is adopted and her birth family has really awful teeth. So far my plan is working. She hasn't had any cavities and thinks the dental office is a cool place. 

 

I didn't go to the dentist often in my adult life and until the last few years didn't have any cavities. I'm 41 now and have had two crowns and a few fillings recently. I don't think I changed how I took  care of my teeth. It might have had to do with a medication that caused dry mouth. (I'm never making fun of that side effect again. It was awful.) Anyway, years of good teeth doesn't mean they'll last forever. 

 

I worked for years as an assistant in a dental specality library. The research on early dental intervention has come a long way in the last few years. A PP mentioned how decay of a primary tooth can effect the tooth behind it. Also, the early loss of a primary tooth can cause the teeth around it to shift and not let there be room for the adult tooth when it comes in leading to braces down the road. 

post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

It's not that increased trips to the dentist mean that cavities are being noticed, increased trips to the dentist means that cavities can be treated so that the teeth don't rot out. Which is fairly common places that don't have good sources of water, and where people can't seek medical care.


This is exactly.  As a 35 year old with a few extractions, bridges, and root canals.  I see no reason to stay away from the dentist.  My first two children had/still don't have any cavities but my 3rd child has had several and even a few root canals.  Rotting baby teeth can affect adult teeth.  I never would have guessed she'd get cavities when her brothers didn't so I'm glad I went and go every 6 months.

post #11 of 22

Eeem, I'd say it is pretty unusual to not take small children to the dentist unless the perhaps as finacial hardship. Even then, there are some county programs that provide dental assistance.  Small children need their teeth cleaned just as much as adults. And if they have cavities, they need to be fixed otherwise they can rot out and cause much worse damage. I had a lot of cavitiies as a kid (bottle of milk in my crib; honey on my pacifier) but not as an adult.

 

I like our dentist. At the very least it is a really good learning experience for the kids and translates to better teeth brushing.

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

Eeem, I'd say it is pretty unusual to not take small children to the dentist unless the perhaps as finacial hardship. 


I failed to mention my girls' visits are covered by DSHS. 

 

post #13 of 22

As an adult who ignored my dental health for years and now have several fillings, one of which is really big and may require a root canal or to be pulled at some point, I take my kids to the dentist.  It is a real possibility that because I ignored my teeth for so long, I might lose some.  Our dentist found some cavities in my 4 year old's molars, at his second check-up.  I will be having them fixed asap.  Better to get cavities fixed while they are small, IMO.  I was totally nervous about seeing the dentist when I started a few years back, but now, faced with the possibility of gaps in my smile, I really see the importance of regular check ups.  

post #14 of 22

DH and I both came from families that took us to the dentist and spent the money for above and beyond simple dental needs.  We are very careful with DS's teeth and did all the "right things" and I was horrified when a cavity was found when he was 5yo.  We go to an old school dentist and he said some people are just more prone to cavities, no matter what you do.  In DS's case, his molars are super tight together and the cavity was between two teeth.   I think it is better to be safe then sorry, I have heard horror stories about kids needing to be sedated and $$$$$ bills to treat decay.
 

post #15 of 22

I have taken DS to the dentist since he was 18 mos old!  DS wasn't comfy there and the dentist didn't push for xrays or anything.  We went every 6 mos.  by the time we got a new dentist last year, DS has in the past year had 3 crowns put on and like three other fillings!  I can't help but think if the first dentist had been more thorough, those would have been caught earlier.  DD  (2) started going last year and already has a soft spot we have to watch.  I am anal retentive about getting their teeth brushed and flossed. 

 

Dental care is very important.  I will be getting sealants on their permanent teeth when they come in, so hopefully we can avoid more decay until they are really good at taking care of their own teeth.  It wasn't until I was in college that I started taking my own oral health seriously, and just this afternoon I am going in to have my first filling in 10 years!  I will need inlays to replace my old amalgam fillings and hopefully those will last a lifetime.  I would really like my kids to not have fillings and fillings and fillings like I did, so I think getting them in the habit from the beginning and getting them used to going to the dentist from a young age certainly won't do any harm. 

post #16 of 22

All my kids starting seeing the dentist regularly around age 3.  That said, I think it's important to be prepared for all the different procedures a dentist might offer or even "push."  For instance, in my region, flouride treatments and molar sealants are recommended for ALL kids (flouride starting around age 4 and sealants after 6-year-old molars come in).  My kids have really strong enamel and none has had a cavity yet; therefore, we are not getting flouride treatments or sealants.  The staff kind of threw a fit and tried to scare me, but I was firm and made sure NO FLOURIDE is written on their charts. (BTW, my deceased father was a dentist and thought flouride treatments and sealants should only be used in certain situations, such as a history of cavities or a strong family history of problems).

 

Apparently in my area no one questions these procedures (which carry risks as well as costing $$$$), so I come out looking like the nutty one.  Oh, and if the dentist recommends a procedure, you can always say, "I'd like to research that before I agree to it." :)

 

 

post #17 of 22

I just wanted to put in a good word about seeing an orthodontist at around age 7 too. Both dh and I had bad teeth and needed major braces to fix more than cosmetic stuff. Well, I finally got a job so we can go to the orthodontist. My 11 year old is now in braces which she needed badly. She had two teeth pulled first and her adult teeth were already being affected by the crowding. 

 

The big surprise was my 7 year old who I took in for a complimentary appt. She has one bottom tooth that has not yet emerged and it is completely sideways! It looks scary (the others also look scary but this is the worst). I took her for two more opinions and they agree that it's bad. It's damaging the roots of the tooth next to it under the gumline. I had four teeth pulled on her to try to get this one to come up. If it doesn't we have to put a chain on it and have it pulled up. If had waited on this, at least one adult tooth would have been dead by the time we got around to realizing how bad it was.

 

As far as dental work-- we have always gotten them to the dentist every six months starting with spot checks and "dentist practice" at around age 2. They have never had cavities thanks to good genes and good brushing. I think it's a good idea to at least get spot checked for problem areas at a young age.

 

 

post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by USAmma View Post

The big surprise was my 7 year old who I took in for a complimentary appt. She has one bottom tooth that has not yet emerged and it is completely sideways! It looks scary (the others also look scary but this is the worst). I took her for two more opinions and they agree that it's bad. It's damaging the roots of the tooth next to it under the gumline. I had four teeth pulled on her to try to get this one to come up. If it doesn't we have to put a chain on it and have it pulled up. If had waited on this, at least one adult tooth would have been dead by the time we got around to realizing how bad it was.

 

 


I had one on the top that didn't emerge (wasn't sideways) and it was a pretty intense procedure to correct it so being proactive to avoid something more invasive is definately the way to go.

 

Luckiestgirl brings up a good point about "pushy" dentists.  Our dentist is really cool about just doing the basics, he never pushes and in fact, has recommended a wait-and-see approach for some of my old filings that will eventually need replacing.  The pedi dentist we had to take DS to for a filing, on the other hand, is very, very pushy about about extra treatments. (to pay for his fancy office with flat screens on the ceiling I suspect)
 

 

post #19 of 22

One thing I didn't see mentioned is that there may be more of a trend to fix small cavities in baby teeth because any decay in the mouth harbors the strep mutans bacteria which is the major cause of cavities. So by fixing the small cavities you're making the mouth less hospitable to the bad bacteria that cause decay and protecting the healthy teeth.

 

I took my kids early on because I knew folks whose kids did have to have a lot of work done (the mom and older brother of one of these kids are those people who have never had a cavity, too) and I knew my dd1 was really doctor phobic and I couldn't imagine her having to go under general anesthesia at the hospital and have a bunch of work done. I'd much rather catch it early when the fix is easy. So far my dd1 (11) has had one cavity due to some malformed enamel on a back molar and my dd2 (8) has had one cavity that was so small she got it filled w/o any anesthetic and no pain.

 

I don't have especially good teeth although they are fairly straight naturally. I had a lot of fillings as a kid probably because I had a big sweet tooth and less than great dental hygiene habits.

post #20 of 22
I think regular dental care is one of those things good parents do. Provided that it will not be a financial hardship, they should go twice a year for regular cleanings. You can decline the fluoride treatments if you so choose.
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