I often hate my job. It’s no secret that kids do not like dentists much as it is. Heck, I am an adult, and a dentist, and Ihate dentists. But it’s not about me.
It’s about Julia, a 7-year old girl who came to me with five sick upper teeth. By sick, I don’t mean slightly wrinkled but full motion deep tooth decay, so rotten away that even when I touched its surface, a child started screaming. Two of these teeth were so badly damaged that there was no point in even trying to save them.
Her mom works as a designer in the IT company, a smart and caring woman, a highly academically inclined person. Julia’s dad is a copywriter in a digital marketing firm, and they’ve both been great during our conversation. It couldn’t be that they didn’t care about their kid or wanted to be bad parents. Right?
When I rushed to the parents to tell them about the horrific situation of their daughter’s dental health, they were deeply surprised. As it turned out, they always had a problem with teaching Julia how to brush her teeth. Busy on their jobs, they didn’t have as much time in the morning, nevermind evenings, to go through tooth brushing step by step. Although considering it a problem, they didn’t bother much with the dental care, thinking that until her teeth are permanent, it’s not worth much worry.
When I told them that three of her five damaged teeth are permanent, they were shocked. It turned out, they just missed the time when teeth were changing. Yep, they just missed. And Julia now will just always have prosthetics and experience trouble biting apples and nuts (but whatever, it’s only for life). Nevermind the thousands of dollars spent on the dental care (and much more to be spent yet).
I don’t blame Julia or her parents. When I talk to adults, I see that most of them don’t know how to brush teeth. Can they teach their children to do it? I am a dental doctor, and I’ve received years and years of training, and a great amount of time was dedicated to discussing the right toothbrush position on a particular tooth. Of course, I know it as a back of my hand - but most people don’t.
Dr. Esther Silva is a specialist in pediatric dental care and co-founder of the Deeno-saur Smart electric toothbrush for kids. Her purpose is to educate the importance of developing good oral habits and routines from an early age; encouraging our children to look after their teeth and shape their behavior throughout their lives, actively improving long-term dental hygiene. Through extensive community work in some of the poorest areas in Brazil, she has uncovered quite a frightening state of dental hygiene with the younger kids, with the situation getting exponentially worse as the children get older, due to a severe lack of information and understanding of correct brushing habits.