Let's be more than just tooth plumbers

Editor's note: Helaine Smith's column, The Mouth Physician, appears regularly on the DrBicuspid.com advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

Welcome, and thank you for reading my first blog posting on Dr.Bicuspid.com. I am delighted to share my thoughts and views on the many interesting topics that we encounter while practicing modern dentistry.

This weekend I was reading my favorite newspaper, Investor's Business Daily, and there was an article that cited statistics about children and challenges they face with access to care when they have rampant decay and state-assisted insurance. Of course, this issue can be categorized and dissected into social, economic, behavioral, and lifestyle problems, just to name a few ways of discussing the ongoing disease process that plagues children of lower income families.

I want to take a few steps back, however, and discuss what I encounter in Boston with regard to the attitude that I have seen among many general dentists here. Why do so many general dentists think that pedodontists do unnecessary work to children? My favorite phrase is, "You do not know what you do not know." If you know how decay spreads, you will not think it is overtreatment to remove decay from primary teeth.

According to Lance Kisby, D.M.D., director of pediatric dentistry at Geisinger Hospital in Danville, PA, the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry classifies one smooth surface area of decay on a primary tooth as "severe." Also, children should have their first visit to a dentist at age 6 months.

How many general dentists know this? How many are willing to work with 6-month-old children? There is so much to learn about pediatrics, and if you are going to treat children you should know about airway development, maintaining arch length, and interceptive orthodontics.

Please be a mouth physician and not a tooth plumber.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2008 DrBicuspid.com

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