TO SEAL THAT TOOTH OR NOT TO SEAL, THAT IS THE QUESTION

What price are you willing to place on your children’s teeth?

Protected tooth
This sealant was placed over 20 years ago and it is still protecting the chewing surface of my tooth.

We invest in our kids. There are the usual things:  clothes, food, and school. We equip them with all kinds of technology which includes cell phones and computers, but investing in their teeth seems to be another story. I was surprised to read an article that highlighted an issue that our children are not receiving preventive care for their teeth. I was flabbergasted at the number of children missing out on care which could prevent bigger problems for them in the future.
Let me throw out some numbers for you to process, by way of a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC:

Approximately 23% of children aged 2-11 years have at least one primary tooth with untreated decay and 20% of adolescents aged 12-19 year have at least one permanent tooth with untreated decay.*

Untreated decay=cavity. When we use the word cavity, people seem to feel that it is not a big deal. “Oh it’s JUST a cavity. It’s not hurting.” But cavities left untreated will continue to get bigger and bigger until the decayed portion eats away at tooth structure, can cause pain, broken teeth, and worse, infection.

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that dental sealants reduce decay in permanent molars by 81% approximately 2 years after placement and continue to be effective up to 4.5 years after placement. *

81% reduction in decay/cavities by placing a sealant on the chewing surface of the tooth! Prevention is what we believe, teach, and preach here at the office. It is so important to protect tooth structure. Yet for some reason parents are not taking advantage of this simple procedure. How can parents leave without scheduling an appointment to place sealants on their kiddo’s teeth?  The main reason I hear repeatedly is THE COST. A study by the CDC addressed several issues which could help explain the lack of preventative care for children. Let’s see if you agree that these could be obstacles to healthcare:

  1. Lack of dental insurance,
  2. If dental insurance is available, the out-of-pocket costs compared to medical expenses were more expensive.

And this is what the study found,

In 2009, the total dental expenses for U.S. children aged 5-7 years were approximately $20 billion (5), accounting for 17.7% of all health-care expenses among this age group (6). Approximately 40% of dental costs were paid out of pocket (5), compared with 17% for medical care (6). Approximately one fourth of U.S. children do not have dental insurance (private or public) (7). The types of services covered by dental insurance vary widely by plan, but typically have higher copayments and lower annual limits than services covered by medical insurance (8). *

In relation to cost, preventive care is usually less costly than restorative treatment.  Or another way to put that is, fluoride varnish and sealants placed on teeth will be less expensive than a filling, root canal, or crown. An added bonus to not having to pay for the more expensive restorative procedures is that tooth structure was saved! Plus, another child did not have to have to have an injection or feel anxious about having “work” done on them. There is also less time spent away from school and school activities. Those are all good things to keep in mind when “preventive care” is presented at the recall appointment.

I have used a number of statistics from the CDC study, and I encourage you to visit the site for EVEN MORE information about the health of our children.  Go to *http://www.cdc.gov/childpreventiveservices/ and click on the * FULL REPORT http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/other/su6302.pdf. The information is very informative about medical and dental issues concerning our kids.

If you have children and have questions about preventive care such as sealants, fluoride varnish, or rinses, call our office or your dental provider and get as much information as possible about those important services.

We welcome comments about our blog.

KEEP BRUSHING AND KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

www.edmonddds.com

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Diag-NO-What?….DIAGNOdent, that’s what!

Let me introduce you to one of the secret weapons we have in our arsenal of cavity-fighting weapons. This little warrior uses a laser beam to detect cavities at the most conservative level.  A laser beam is used to detect changes happening before we can feel or see those changes happening. This little helper is designed to detect slight changes in the tooth structure. This little laser, used in conjunction with digital x-rays, often proves to be superior to the older method of using the “pointy poker” to find soft spots in the teeth. And it can be done without you, the patient, feeling the laser working. No pain, now that is a plus!

Folks, meet DIAGNOdent.

laser caries detector
laser caries detector

We have been using this tool for fighting cavities in our office for many years and the technology has been around since 2005. Along with our digital x-rays, we are better able to help our patients maintain a healthy mouth.  The technology available to help you maintain your healthy smile keeps getting better and better.

What does it mean to you to have a cavity-fighter such as DIAGNOdent in your corner? It could mean less tooth pain and problems because we are able to detect and treat cavities before they become large and bothersome. As you may or may not know, cavities do not go away by themselves. We can’t brush them away. We can’t give them away or even wish them away. The only way to get rid of a cavity, or the decayed part of the tooth, is to remove it. We have to physically remove the area which has decayed and replace the open hole with a filling material. Another plus with earlier detection of decay means that you will spend less time and money at the dental office. It’s a win-win situation and we like win-win, are you with me?

The DIAGNOdent uses a laser to detect differences in healthy and unhealthy tooth by measuring degrees of fluorescence in your tooth structure. These readings are recorded in the chart and monitored.

00-10      Healthy Tooth Structure

11-20      Outer Enamel Changes (The enamel is the hard outer protective covering of your tooth.)

21-30      Inner Enamel Changes

30+         Dentin Changes (Dentin is softer than enamel and decay often moves more quickly when it burrows this deep into the tooth.)

X02584_3
The reading on this tooth was 26, indicating changes through to the inner portion of the enamel. No soft spots were noted in clinical evaluation.
X02584_2
Tooth is intact with no soft spots noted.
X02584_10
This is the area which needed to be removed. Also notice the crack in the enamel wall of the tooth structure.

The goal in our office is to keep your smile healthy and be able to do provide pain-free dentistry. Part of the whole picture is being able to educate our patients so that they are able to help decide how to keep themselves healthy and happy. A smile is a universal sign of happiness and we are so lucky to be able to help people keep their teeth and to be able to smile. Know that when you come in to see Dr. Alspaugh and the rest of the team, we will work to provide you the best dental experience by using up-to-date technology to help fight disease in your mouth.

Keep brushing and smiling!

www.edmonddds.com