Here’s a statistic that might surprise you: Nearly 1 in 3 children ages 2-5 in in this country suffers from dental decay. “I suspect that rate is a little lower in our area but, pretty accurate based on what I am seeing in my practice,” says Dr. Mira Albert, pediatric dentist and owner of Brush Pediatric Dentistry in Hinsdale.
Dental decay is still on the rise as one of the most chronic infectious diseases of early childhood despite generally healthier diets. “The good news is it’s nearly 100 percent preventable with some simple diet and hygiene practices,” says Dr. Albert.
Dr. Albert is speaking from experience. She is one of the area’s top pediatric dentists, serving as National Spokesperson of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and past board examiner of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. She’ll also be part of the AAPD/HSHC Leadership institute at Northwestern Kellogg School of Business this December for the second year of a three-year program.
Pediatric dentistry is a specialty that requires an additional two years of rigorous residency training beyond the four years of dental school. It enables Dr. Albert to treat the oral health of children beginning at age 1. She treats dental decay in children, but she also addresses dental traumas, orthodontic issues, and sometimes even systemic illnesses such as vitamin deficiencies that have oral presentations.
Fall is an especially important time for Dr. Albert and members of her practice to discuss oral health. It’s a time of back-to-school exams and pre-Halloween warnings. “We all know that sugar is harmful, but so are high carb foods such as crackers and cookies,” Dr. Albert. Says. “The trick isn’t only how much children are eating, it’s how often.
“Constant grazing on high-sugar or high-carb treats and foods keeps the pH of the mouth low, thereby creating a perfect environment for the development of dental cavities,” she says. Her advice for parents and caregivers: Try to avoid between meal snacking as much as possible and think low-sugar, low-carb: Cheese sticks, veggies, and nuts are good options. “Treats are best reserved for mealtime as a reward for great regular brushing and flossing,” she says.
Dr. Albert says it’s important to know your child and set limits accordingly, but still keep it fun. Drinking fluoridated tap water is also a must. “This can help make teeth strong,” she says. Finally, encourage extra brushing beyond the regular two minutes, twice a day, with a Fluoride-containing toothpaste when your child indulges.
Dr. Albert’s other big warning during the fall season is about protecting your children’s teeth during sports. “Proper protective equipment is essential when playing sports, and athletic mouth guards are essential in preventing dental traumas,” she says. Dr. Albert and other pediatric dentists can custom-make a well-fitting mouth guard for a child. There is always a lot going on around Brush Pediatric Dentistry. “We love supporting our local schools, teams, and causes and seeing our patients around town,” Dr. Albert says.
“While I absolutely love being hands-on in my community, impacting my field as a whole and reaching parents all over in my role as a spokesperson for the AAPD has been tremendously gratifying over the last few years. I’m hoping that together with parents and other professionals, we can get the rate of dental decay down from the national rate in Hinsdale and beyond through education, early intervention, and prevention.”
Brush Pediatric Dentistry is located at 911 N. Elm Street, Suite 228, in Hinsdale. Call 630-504-2223, or visit brushforkids.com for more information.