Dr. Jared Evans of KiDDS Dental in Liberty Lake loves the education side of dentistry, helping patients stay healthy and their parents avoid costly repairs. Here are four of Dr. Evans’ favorite tips for kids’ teeth.
1. Cavities are contagious: Did you know that the bacterial cause of tooth decay can be passed on from person to person? Decay is actually the most common chronic disease of childhood, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. “When parents say, ‘bad teeth run in the family,’ it’s more that bad germs run in the family — and you’re sharing them,” Dr. Evans said. So keep a clean mouth, and avoid sharing toothbrushes or utensils with family members.
2. Strategic snacking: Have you heard before that too much sugar is bad for your teeth? “It doesn’t tend to be the amount of sugar that’s the problem, but the amount of time the sugar is sitting on the tooth if bacteria is there as well,” Dr. Evans said. He recommends snacks that don’t promote decay, like cheese, meat and veggies. “Cereal or crackers or fruit or juice — eat it quick and get it off, just like candy,” he said.
3. Provide fluoride: About 60 percent of kids in the area have cavities by second grade, according to the Spokane Regional Health District. Dr. Evans said that is because we don’t have ideal levels of fluoride in the water in Spokane. Fortunately fluoride treatments or supplements can easily be prescribed by a dentist. “We find if we can get that fluoride treatment back on the teeth, it cuts decay rates in half,” he said.
4. Study sequence and space: Dr. Evans said there is a preferred sequence for losing teeth that helps to save the right space for the permanent replacements. After the first four permanent molars come in (usually between ages 5-7), it’s time to work with a dentist or orthodontist to consider measures such as spacers to help set the stage for the rest of the permanent teeth. “Early interceptive help can solve the majority of issues,” Dr. Evans said. “Many times, kids don’t need braces later. You can potentially prevent a $6,000 orthodontic bill by maintaining the right spacing.”
NOTE: A version of this article first appeared in the 2019 Liberty Lake Yearbook.