With Children’s Dental Health Month in February, there’s no better time to take a closer look at your kids’ smiles. Paige Nance, DDS, a dentist with Mission Children’s Hospital, emphasizes the importance of parents checking in their children’s mouths between those 6-month checkups.
“If they see any dark spots, holes or swollen gums, that would be a reason to call the dentist, because there may be a cavity or abscess,” said Dr. Nance. If patients keep their appointments and follow the dentist’s treatment recommendations, there shouldn’t be any surprises aside from possible trauma (common examples include sports-related injuries or falling while learning to walk). “Any trauma — bleeding around a tooth, broken teeth, knocked out teeth, lacerated lips — should always be evaluated by a dentist,” she said.
But what if you don’t have proper access to dental care for your children? If you live in a county in western North Carolina that doesn’t offer a dental public health clinic, Dr. Nance and her team have two hi-tech Toothbuses that visit schools. These fully functioning dental offices on wheels serve kids in kindergarten through fifth grade, performing any service you can get in an office, from cleanings and X-rays to fillings and biopsies.
“We are basically the children’s family dentist,” said Dr. Nance. “The bus allows the child to be seen at school, so the parent does not have to miss work and the child does not miss as much school.”
Too Young, Too Unhealthy or Too Anxious?
If you have a regular dentist, but your child gets apprehensive, has special needs or another situation that requires anesthesia for his dental work, then your dentist might refer you to Mission’s dental operating room program. The dental team at Mission Children’s Hospital Reuter Outpatient Center performs the same procedures as a typical dental office or the Toothbus, only the patient is unconscious.
“The operating room is supposed to be a one-time deal,” said Dr. Nance. “The objective is to complete all the dental treatment that child needs under one general anesthesia appointment and refer them back to their dentist for ongoing preventive care.” Nance also said that they do see special needs children many times over their childhood and sometimes see adults with special needs as well.
The dental program at Mission recently expanded its services. Mission Children’s dental team works at the Asheville surgery center five days a week and at Mission Hospital one day per week. In addition to that, services have been expanded to Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine one day per week and Mission Hospital McDowell in Marion one day per week.
7 Healthy Mouth Habits
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride.
- Older kids should brush for two minutes, twice a day (to make it fun, check out 2min2x.org).
- Drink water with fluoride.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
- Avoid sharing utensils with your child or “cleaning” his pacifier in your mouth.
- Wear a mouth guard to protect teeth while playing sports.
- Defend tooth surfaces against decay with dental sealants.
Source: American Dental Association
Paige Nance, DDS, is a dentist with Mission Children’s Hospital.