Advice Column, Health, Parenting

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

  • Dr Gerald B Kaplan
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Parenting

I was asked recently to present a talk to nursery school parents about how to look after their children’s teeth. You may wonder why a specialist prosthodontist who is trained to treat advanced restorative problems in patients that have very broken down mouths was so excited to talk to a group of young parents?

The reason is very simple.

Teeth are designed to last a lifetime. The care of teeth begins from early childhood and parent awareness is the key factor in helping young children develop the appreciation and skill of looking after their teeth.

I may be doing myself out of future business but there are enough problems that abound in adults and even teenagers as a result of both ignorance and inadequate dentistry.

In a presentation, diagrams charts and cartoons are entertaining but real-life pictures make the point. And so, I set out to find a suitable example

I wanted a photograph of a young child to include in my presentation. In searching for such a picture I walked past a young lady of five years old sitting with her mother on the pavement of a restaurant and I thought that she would be the appropriate candidate. As she smiled I noticed that she was missing a back baby tooth. That really upset me greatly. Why should such a young person lose a baby tooth ? The loss of such a tooth has major consequences in terms of long-term dental health. It changes the bite and sets the patient up for future orthodontic treatment during her early to late teens.

I suggested to the mother that she bring the young child in for a quick look see. She agreed and the clinical examination revealed the presence of seven teeth in need of restorative dentistry. That begs the question – Why was the decay not diagnosed earlier and why did she have to lose a tooth unnecessarily. Dental decay in a baby tooth should be treated promptly. It spreads fast because the tooth enamel is thin.

Now the young lady needed a general anaesthetic to do the fillings and also have of a space maintainer placed to prevent further loss of space while the jaw continues to grow. The permanent tooth will erupt at the appropriate age and they need space to fit into a healthy dental arch.

If that shock was not enough, I then had the pleasure of meeting her eight-year-old brother. I was aghast. This young man already has a mixed dentition, that is, both baby teeth and primary teeth present in the mouth which are in the process of growth and development.

Not only not only were his teeth laden with plaque and widespread decay on the baby teeth. This was revealed with disclosing solution . Plaque is invisible and effective toothbrushing needs to be checked. ( Has your dentist made you aware of disclosing?)  A permanent molar tooth was ravaged with decay as well.

The first permanent molar tooth erupts into the mouth at the age of between six and seven years of age and they should last a lifetime if properly cared for. These teeth are the most vulnerable teeth in the mouth for a young person and the teeth most frequently lost as the years go by. The problem is preventable with effective dental care both by the dentist and by responsible parents.

Now both of these gorgeous children have compromised mouths. They are fearful of sitting in the dental chair. They can only be treated under general anaesthetic with all the risk and anxiety that it entails. And what about the expense that could have been avoided with effective toothbrushing; regular fluoride treatment; and a proper diet.

The young boy’s mouth will now be the bain of his life. A downward cascade . Whose fault? – The parent or the dentist or both. I wonder. Poor child.

No dentistry is the best dentistry!

Dental problems are preventable with the knowledge of how to look after teeth and exercise effective plaque control. This skill needs to be taught and constantly supervised. Regular dental visits are essential.

There is a prevalent misconception that because one belongs to medical aid, all the costs of dental treatment are covered. This is not true! The fees set by medical aids and the limits imposed are so restrictive. They are unrealistic. Like all things in life, price is what you pay-value is what you get. (Kurt Vonnenberg).

Everything is on the Internet today. Yellow page directories and telephone books continue to shrink.

Want to search for anything? Just Google it.

And so it is with dentistry… Type in keywords like: / implant dentistry/, cosmetic dentistry/, prosthodontist/ and see what comes up . Perhaps that is how you found my website which I trust has been informative.

I also did some Googling and typed in the following: “ You get what you pay for”. Believe it or not, Google even had answers for that.

Amongst the articles that came up is one that caught my eye was one written by Bob Borson quoting from the 19th century English poet, fervent art critic and socialist, John Ruskin.

“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse or sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything because the things you bought were incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do .The common law of business prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done.”

And so it is with good dentistry. Good dentistry may be costly in the beginning but its benefits last and last.

Give us a call on 011 483 2281 . We would love to meet you and offer you real value .

Your teeth should last a lifetime. You deserve it.

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