4 Feb 2012

Healthy Teeth, Happy Smiles

Healthy Teeth, Happy Smiles
Posted on 03 February 2012
.............In the years since Cosenza opened her practice, she’s seen some changes in the field of dentistry as well as in the outlook of dental health among kids. First of all, the question of fluoride has been debated for a long time. In areas where the water isn’t fluoridated (like ours), should you give your child fluoride supplements?
“The problem with fluoride,” explains Cosenza, “is that if you ingest too much as a kid, it can affect your permanent teeth while they’re developing, causing a marbling of the enamel. Also, some feel that since it affects the enamel on your teeth, it could affect bone formation as well. But I say anything in moderation.”
She adds that she didn’t give her children the fluoride supplements, and that “The recommendation of the ADA has changed,” says Consenza. “Kids who are at a high risk for fluoride deficiency may need drops, but others don’t. A tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste is enough. There’s fluoride in a lot of the things we eat and drink.”
What we eat and drink is one of the most important things to dental health in general, Cosenza says. While most think of brushing and flossing as the primary ways to take care of your teeth, diet is equally important.
“We’re seeing incidences of cavities on the rise,” she says. “We are big on water and milk. No more than one juice a day, even if you’re diluting.”
She also warns not to be fooled by organic and natural sweeteners.
“Sugar is sugar no matter where it’s from,” she says. “If it’s a sweet food, the bacteria in your mouth go crazy.”
Another recommendation that used to be common was to brush immediately after eating something sweet. This is no longer suggested.
“Don’t run to the bathroom to brush teeth after something sugary because you could brush away enamel.” Instead, she recommends to just “Drink tons of water. It lowers the pH in your mouth. And remember, everything in moderation.”
Dentistry is becoming more conservative, Cosenza says.
“Not every lesion has to be filled. If there’s something small between the teeth, you can use a pro-enamel (that you get through a dentist) to re-mineralize it, and then check in six months later.”
This is not to say, however, that cavities can be left alone. One common thing Cosenza hears is that baby teeth don’t have to be fixed because they’ll be gone soon anyway.
“Baby teeth have nerves and blood vessels,” she says, “and they’re designed to hold the space for the permanent teeth. If you don’t fix the cavities on baby teeth, it’s going to affect the teeth later.”

When Dr. Cosenza talks about dental health, her voice is cheery, and she could as easily be discussing pony rides and balloons. Maybe that’s what drew her to pediatrics. When she was in college, her advisor pushed her towards dental school instead of medical school and she “knew right away I’d be working with kids. It’s more rewarding and more fun.”

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