My name is Mike Christensen, and I am a dentist in Kenora, Ontario.
For you long time readers of the paper, you might remember I wrote a column for the paper for a few months several years ago. I have been asked to again submit a column on a weekly basis regarding dental issues. It is my privilege to again address you about dentistry. As in the past, all of my submissions will be my own original writing. I welcome your suggestions and questions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Dr. Michael Christensen, 34 Matheson Street South, Kenora, ON P9N 1T6.
It has occurred to me that many people do not have a good grasp of what oral health challenges to expect as the decades of life roll on in their own lives and in the lives of family members. As with other parts of the body, conditions affecting our mouths change as we age. Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to alert you to the changes a person can expect as life progresses, and what we might do to reduce expected challenges. Of course, everyone is different and some can expect more acute challenges while others seem to sail through the years without any troubles at all. The rest of us lie in the middle somewhere and really have much in common with nearly everyone else.
Teeth are designed to last more than a lifetime. Meaning, nature would have us leave this world with a full complement of teeth that are fully useful right to the end.
Under 2 years old:
Most of us enter life without teeth. This is fortunate for Mom. Some few are actually born with a tooth or two in place. Usually the delivering doctor removes them for a variety of reasons. Suffice it to say, we start our journey without teeth. Baby teeth (officially called deciduous teeth) are well along their development path when the baby is born. The first baby tooth to erupt is usually a cause for celebration of all who know the little one, and occurs between 6-10 months of age. There are twenty baby teeth in all, and the last to erupt is usually the upper second molar which erupts between 25 and 33 months of age. Baby teeth are essential for establishing the path of eruption of the permanent teeth which will erupt later. Baby teeth are also important for establishing regular speaking patterns, and of course for eating and esthetics.
Good habits of eating and caring for the teeth are established early. Teeth are small and manual dexterity is not good in this under 2 years old period. A good rule of thumb is that if a child cannot colour between the lines of a colouring book, he cannot be expected to brush his own teeth and get the job done adequately. I well remember my own dad (who was also my dentist) lining the three of us up at the bathroom door before bed when I was a little guy so he could brush our teeth for us. Mom and Dad: You need to brush Junior’s teeth for him until he can colour between the lines in his colouring book. Let him do it himself, but follow up for him afterwards at least once per day. Bottles and sippy cups of liquid no matter what liquid it is (except water) need to be consumed without delay rather than sipped. The bacteria that make up dental plaque really don’t know the difference between the sugar from a factory, and the sugar that comes from fruit. The fact is that as far as teeth go, apple juice is awfully similar to soda pop. Brush the teeth for the little ones every day, and make sure sweet liquids are consumed quickly rather than sipped.
- This article was written by Dr. Mike Christensen and published in the Daily Miner and News, and Enterprise. Local Kenora News Publicatons (1998-2006)