Did you know that your teeth are supposed to last a lifetime? According to the American Academy of Periodontology (the study of teeth), 50% of people say that a smile is the first feature they notice about someone. So, why are 40% of adults over the age of 65 missing their teeth? It all begins with educating children on the importance of dental health and the proper way to take care of their teeth. The American Dental Association dedicated the month of February for a national dental health observance, bringing together thousands of devoted dental professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers, and many others. Of course, Dr. Legler can’t pass up this opportunity to make a difference in our community and years ago he decided to visit schools throughout Indian River and St. Lucie Counties bringing with him a fun, interactive, and informational presentation on how to take proper care of your teeth.
Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood diseases in the United Sates. About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5-11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth, 1 of 7 (13%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth, and the percentage of children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years with untreated tooth decay is twice as high for low-income families (25%) compared with children from high-income households. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, learning, and playing.
Therefore, at Legler Orthodontics it is our mission to educate the children in our community about dental health and oral care. There is good news! Dr. Legler’s Dental Health Month school presentations teach the children how tooth decay and other oral diseases are completely preventable if proper measures are taken.
Here are some of the steps in Dr. Legler’s Dental Health Month presentation that he goes over with the students:
Step 1: At Home Teeth Care
First, you and your child should brush your teeth at least twice a day. Start by setting a timer for 3 minutes, put the toothpaste on your toothbrush and begin brushing in circular motions. Also, try not to make sawing motions (back and forth). Brush up on your gums and don’t forget your tongue.
Second, it’s time to floss! Make sure you get in between all of your teeth because flossing helps remove plaque (leading cause to dental decay). Here’s a great example; You wouldn’t wash only one side of a dirty dish and then put it back in the cabinet to use again tomorrow, would you? When you brush your teeth, you’re only washing half of the surfaces of your teeth, the front and back. This leaves the sides of your teeth and the area near the gum line dirty, like washing only one side of a dirty dish. Ew! Floss your teeth!
Finally, finish your dental care routine with a fluoride rinse. This helps fight against tooth decay and gingivitis (gum disease). This also freshens your breath and helps to reduce bad breath throughout the day. This final stage of your dental routine is one you should not skip!
Step 2: Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is imperative in your child’s life. If children start out eating healthy they are most likely going to keep a healthy diet throughout their life. Healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are not only good for oral health but obviously for a person’s overall health. By eating these foods, you can avoid cavities, make your teeth stronger, and develop good eating habits at an early age. Candy and soda, basically all sugar, is terrible for your teeth. Every time you eat or drink these types of foods and liquids, little by little, plaque begins to build up and slowly eat through the layers of your teeth causing tooth decay. These are what we call "sugar bugs" and they start at the outer layer of the tooth, the enamel, then they work their way into the dentin, the second layer of the tooth and finally they eat away at the inside third layer, the pulp. This final layer contains blood vessels and nerves, if the "sugar bug" reaches this layer, your tooth will begin to ache. Ouch!
Step 3: Visit the Dentist Twice a Year
Even if you take excellent care of your teeth and gums and eat healthy food you still need to visit the dentist regularly. This is what we call preventative dentistry. More than 50 years ago, examinations of people entering the military showed that Americans’ teeth were in pretty bad shape. There were no guidelines for how often you should see a dentist so, many dentists focused on fixing problems rather than preventing them. Dental and health organizations decided people should go to the dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings because cavities and gum disease are entirely preventable. Whatever the origins, this has proven to be a useful rule of thumb for many people. Many dental problems don’t become visible or cause any pain until they are in more advanced stages. When a patient visits the dentist twice a year, the dentist can find early signs of disease and these problems can be treated at a manageable stage.
Step 4: Visit an Orthodontist by Age 7
Even though most people think of preteens and teens when they think of orthodontics, there many benefits for a child to be evaluated by an orthodontist at age 7. An early exam allows an orthodontist to make a baseline evaluation before your child’s growth spurt. With this knowledge they can decide if the use of orthodontic appliances before their growth spurt are necessary to correct oral/facial deficiencies. While most children will not need orthodontic treatment at age 7, for some early treatment can prevent the need for oral surgery in their teenage or adult years. An early evaluation can also help a parent correct their child’s harmful oral habits, permit an orthodontist to guide their jaw growth, lower the risk of future trauma, and pre-position permanent teeth before they begin to grow. Whether you think your child is ready or not, it doesn’t hurt for your child to be evaluated by an orthodontist at age 7. On the plus side, at Legler Orthodontics, we offer a FREE orthodontic consultation! Here is an example of a Legler Orthodontics patient that needed treatment at age 7. This is the result after Phase 1 of orthodontic treatment:
These four steps, while they may seem simple and obvious, could change the outcome in the future of a child’s dental health. Dr. Legler feels it is part of his duty to enlighten and educate the children of our community and ensure that they will remember his awesome, entertaining, and educational presentation on how to take proper care of your teeth. Concluding the presentation, we hope to make this goal a reality by giving each student an at-home toothbrushing kit. Packed with a sand timer, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and a few extra goodies, we hope to give the students a jump start on their path to maintaining excellent dental health! Legler Orthodontics and Dr. Legler can’t wait to visit our local schools this year!
Here is a short video of Dr. Legler and the of our community during his Dental Health Month Presentation: