I’m beginning to slowly understand that there are many stages to parenting. Having just recently ventured into the teenage realm, I say to myself, “Surely I didn’t act like this when I was that age.” It’s hard to believe how quickly your once energetic and helpful child is suddenly stricken with these intermittent phases of paralysis and amnesia. Even more surprising is that despite all the rigorous effort of procrastination when it is down to the wire, they always seem to somehow pull off a last-minute miracle. Though these cases of procrastination can cost a parent several strands of hair, there are times, even in dentistry, that procrastination can be for the better.
As we continue to advance in dentistry, our knowledge of tooth response to certain treatment and materials have directed dentists to take more preventative approaches. This is true, especially for children. Primary or “baby” teeth have great importance for providing space and for eating and speech, so it makes sense that dentists want to maintain them as much as possible. However, with the dangers of sedation and with the knowledge that certain treatments have short lifespans, a new approach is being practiced.
For young children with small amounts of decay, we now are applying medicaments that are able to slow, if not arrest, dental decay or tooth infections to avoid treatment until the child is able to tolerate it or prevent it altogether. This method also helps to prevent excessive treatment like crowns or “baby root canals” that can be traumatic for children and costly for parents. We may not be able to avoid these treatments completely, but at least decrease their incidence.
As no treatment lasts forever, the nature of dental care is to prolong tooth longevity as much as possible. Therefore, even adults can benefit from certain procedures like porcelain fillings or tooth pulp medicaments that help prevent loss of tooth structure to crowns or avoid procedures like root canals when indicated.
Of course, you should always remember that the best way to take a preventative approach is to avoid procrastination on your dental visits. Happy Smiling!