Winnipeg's Kids Dental Story
Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease in North America. It is six times more prevalent than asthma. Presently 35 % of all three year olds, 48% of all four year olds and about 75% of all teenagers exhibit tooth decay. In Canada millions of school hours are lost each year to dental related illness.
The fact that dental decay is an infectious, transmissible, diet-dependent disease is not widely known. Indeed children’s teeth are at risk long before they have been exposed to their first piece of candy.
Parents incorrectly assume that children get cavities because of sloppy or inconsistent brushing and flossing habits. However almost one third of all children get cavities inspite of proper and regular brushing and flossing. What is not widely known is that tooth decay is a disease called caries that is caused by a specific family of bacteria called S. mutans. This process begins with the colonization of baby teeth by these bacteria, and their use of sugar in the mouth to produce acids. These acids dissolve the enamel, by dissolving the calcium in teeth. As these bacteria multiply they form a slimy yellowish film called plaque, trapping even more enamel dissolving acid. Together these two processes rob teeth of calcium and the cavity forming process begins.
Traditionally dentists have started to intervene at this stage when cavities had already formed. Caries or tooth decay has been managed for years with a surgical approach of filling cavities with little regard as to the specific germs that caused them.
Newborns enter this world without any S. mutans in their mouths. However by the age of 12-19 months 22-25% of them harbor the bacteria. The presence of S. mutans at age 1 is the most effective predictor of caries by age 3.
Studies have shown that mothers are more prone than fathers in infecting their children with these cavity causing bacteria, typically before the age of three. This occurs by the transferring of bacteria through saliva from mother to child. Kissing, cuddling, shared cooking utensils, blowing on hot foods, the use of common toothbrushes all can be involved in the dissemination of these harmful bacteria. Once colonized with S. mutans, children will always be prone to tooth decay. It is an old wives’ tale that certain children inherit “soft teeth” from a family member. What they are really inheriting is cavity producing bugs. This also explains why some children with decent brushing habits are still getting cavities.
Apart form the type of bacteria a child harbors, another very important part of the tooth decay puzzle is diet. The amount, acidity, and even more importantly-the frequency of carbohydrates in the diet directly influence both the growth of the bacterial colonies and the “enamel dissolving effect”.
Good nutrition is not only important at the local/oral level. Junk food is known to promote higher incidences of obesity, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, depression, cardiovascular disease and even some cancers in children and adults. Junk food along with fast food has supplanted healthy eating. Indeed the nutritional crisis is so dire that authorities warn that if we don’t change our dietary habits soon, one in three children born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes. Today many dentists are predicting that our children will be sicker and have a shorter life expectancy than us, their parents.
Today’s processed food may be long on energy but very short on its medicinal or health promoting qualities. There is no substitute for real wholesome foods.
Our approach at Kids Dental may be different than what you are traditionally used to, as it aims at promoting the principles of dental wellness through advanced prevention and natural nutrition. Indeed the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure” has never been truer.
The Kids Dental approach to dental care was founded by Dr. Ernest Cholakis, a recipient of Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee Medal for his contributions to dentistry and his community. He has de-emphasized the drill-and-fill approach for a “wellness” strategy that focuses on advanced prevention and natural nutrition. As a dental student he received the Preventive Dentistry Award for his work in dental wellness. In addition his own life experience both professionally and personally with his dentist-wife and four daughters, has served as his inspiration to not only develop a better way to medically deal with dental disease but to instill a culture ordered around the higher ideals and values of prevention and natural nutrition.
Indeed everyone at Kids Dental is genuinely empowered by the medical equivalent of a high school spirit. Leading the charge is: Dr. Carla Cohn, a general dentist, who restricts her practice to children with an exceptional background in comprehensive care, Dr. Katie Davidson, DMD., BSc - Dentist and Dr Billy Wiltshire, an Orthodontist and world renowned academician and educator. Our whole team along with many other collaborators have taken enormous pride in Kids Dental’s potential and derive great personal satisfaction in extending their invitation of “celebrating a lifetime of healthy smiles” for all children.