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“I’d rather have a kid cry with a soft toothbrush than when I have to drill a cavity.”

Apr 20, 2012

That was what Manhattan pediatrician Dr. Jed Best told the New York Times in a March article concerning the alarming number of preschoolers that are requiring surgery for excessive cavities.

Dr. Best was responding to parents whose children require professional teeth cleaning because the parents don't enforce tooth brushing habits at home. In the Times article he explained it this way: “Let’s say a child is 1 ½, and the child screams when they get their teeth cleaned. Some parents say, ‘I don’t want my little darling to be traumatized.’” And Dr. Best shares with those parents the toothbrush vs drill comparison.

I’ve written before in Dental Wire and this blog about the increasing number of preschoolers experiencing cavities, but this trend of using anesthesia on preschoolers because they need so much dental work is alarming. Is it any wonder why the cost of health care and insurance premiums continue to rise?

Can you believe there are parents that would rather pay $2,000 to $5,000, depending on insurance coverage and the amount of dental work required, than reason with their child for a few minutes every night about brushing before bedtime?

The Times story centered on a 2 ½-year-old who had to be anesthetized because 11 of his 20 baby teeth had cavities. During the procedure his pediatric dentist extracted two incisors, performed a root canal on a molar and treated the rest with fillings and crowns.

His parents admittedly didn't worry about brushing their son's teeth until they noticed them discoloring when he was 1 ½ years old. “I had a lot on my mind, and brushing his teeth was an extra thing I didn’t think about at night,” the Times quotes his mother saying.  Tch, tch.

Dentists nationwide say they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with six to ten cavities or more. Because the level of decay is so bad, dentists have to “put kids under” because they are unlikely to sit through such extensive procedures while awake.

My 3 ½-year-old granddaughter Della recently had a trip to the dentist and I’m glad to say she got an “'atta girl” from her dentist rather than having to be anesthetized to address serious oral issues. Della’s parents made sure at an early age that she brushed her teeth daily, and after a week or two guess what - it became a habit!

Do you have trouble getting your kids to brush? How did you get them in the habit? How old were they when they started brushing on their own? Let me know and we'll post the results in an upcoming blog. Email me at:

Find me on Twitter at Twitter@ToothTeller

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Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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