Prevention is better than cure – the keys to effective paediatric preventive dentistry are explored by Dr Libi (Lubna) Al-Muzianpodcast Promotional Features
Posted by: Dental Design 3rd July 2023
The discourse and education around paediatric dentistry has come a long way, but what further lengths are necessary to prioritise prevention over cure and set children on a path of excellent dental health for life? In the first episode of GC’s podcast series, paediatric specialist Dr Libi speaks about the preventive routines she employs and the steps she recommends to help children, parents and carers develop a prevention mindset. Here’s a taster of what she has to say.
The key problems facing paediatric dentistry
The first problem for paediatric dentistry is actually a much wider issue, centering around the public’s general attitude to oral hygiene. People don’t attach the same sense of priority to oral hygiene as they do to other aspects of their personal care, such as skincare and haircare. However, unlike teeth, skin and hair can regenerate and grow. A more helpful approach would be to view oral hygiene in a similar way to hand hygiene. We wash our hands when they get dirty, so we should brush our teeth when they get dirty too.
There have been several successful campaigns in paediatric dentistry, including the message to brush children’s teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and to spit instead of rinse. Yet, parents who follow all this advice are still left wondering why their child continues to suffer from poor dental health. The answer is that advice alone is not enough, and further steps need to be added to children’s oral hygiene routines to reinforce the educational messages. For example, the prevalence of interproximal caries in children shows that interproximal spaces are not being cleaned sufficiently and flossing should often be recommended, even for younger children.
Education is an essential part of prevention and is key to setting children up for a lifetime of excellent oral health. The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) is doing a great job of harnessing the power of celebrity to educate families, but a new direction is also necessary to engage a new generation of parents.
Younger parents now interact and get their information via social media such as TikTok, Instagram and Facebook and oral health messages need to be relayed on these platforms in a way that is accessible and relatable. This is much harder to achieve on a national or governmental level, so the responsibility comes down to individual dentists to share educational messages on their own social media platforms.
When it comes to using social media, many dentists fear coming across as being too ‘salesy’. There’s no doubt that it’s hard to recommend a product, no matter how much you believe in it, without third party support – so it helps to provide all of the information and evidence that’s available. It’s also helpful to reinforce the message that spending a little extra on the right preventive products will likely reduce the amount spent on dental treatments in the future.
Investing in prevention
When it comes to an easy and accessible investment in oral health, I recommend the use of Tooth Mousse (GC) which helps offset the effects of the modern diet. Tooth Mousse negates the effects of the acid attacks that teeth are subjected to multiple times a day, neutralising the acid that’s produced after eating and preventing the depletion of minerals from the enamel. Tooth Mousse also provides the teeth with added minerals, strengthening weaker spots in the enamel to make teeth more resistant to decay and caries.
I use Tooth Mousse as an effective solution for children with hypomineralised and sensitive teeth who find brushing uncomfortable and therefore struggle to maintain adequate oral hygiene. Many children suffer with hypomineralised teeth and it’s important to recognise that children often have a valid reason for not wanting their teeth brushed. The key is to diagnose problems early and provide parents with the right tools to solve the issues being faced. We all know that when patients begin to feel better and they can see a visible difference it motivates them to continue with treatment.
Prevention in the clinic
EQUIA Forte HT (GC), which is a glass hybrid material has become the cornerstone of my preventive routine in clinic and I use it as the primary sealant for my patients. The use of resin sealants can prove to be near-impossible on younger children, as they don’t like keeping their mouth open for a long time and moisture control can be a challenge. If we add hypomineralised teeth into the equation, the cold water spray and suction can feel especially unpleasant with a resultant loss in patient cooperation.
EQUIA Forte HT chemically bonds to the tooth’s surface to provide an effective seal. It works well in areas where moisture control is a challenge and can be applied with a simple finger press. One capsule of EQUIA Forte HT will seal at least four molars, with each taking less than a minute to seal – making it both cost and time effective. It also doesn’t wear away at the same rate as resins, but application is so seamless that topping up, if necessary, isn’t a problem.
I believe that simplifying preventive processes in the clinic by using appropriate materials is a big step in the right direction to build children’s confidence and cooperation, setting them up for lifelong dental health.
Children who receive positive prevention messages, instilled in them at an early age, will go on to need minimal amounts of treatment throughout their lives. They will know how to look after their teeth in the best way possible, seek treatment when they need it, and view the dentist as someone who is there to help them care for their teeth – and that’s a significant part of the healthcare we provide.
Listen to the full podcast to find out more about Dr Libi’s preventive routine and tips:
About the Author
Dr Libi, MPaed Dent RCS (Edinburgh), Doctorate Clin.Dent. Paediatric Dentistry (Edinburgh), MFD RCS (Ireland), PGCert. Med.Ed (Dundee), PGCert. DPH (Manchester), DDS (AUST) is a Specilaist in Paediatric Dentistry at Sunrise Dental Clinic, Edinburgh