Q: Before I ship my kid off to college, are their any special dental concerns I should address now? …B.J.S. Beverly Hills CA via internet.
A: I appreciate the concern for the tooth stuff, but I think a little “birds and bees” discussion might be in order. And I don’t mean ornithology or apiculture; (Have “Joe College look that one up!)
This time of year many doctor colleagues of mine send in their offspring for a pre-college check up. It is important that digital X-rays are taken to check for decay, gum disease and other oral pathology. These young folk have a tendency towards chewing surface decay, called pit and fissure decay, due to the partial loss of the sealant material that was applied when they were younger plus a high sugar diet. Bacteria gets stuck in the grooves, causing massive decay that is often invisible on the X-ray due to its location within a the thickest part of the tooth, impeding the X-ray beam.
A great tool to detect this type of decay (on all patients) is the Diagnodent; a laser decay detector which reads the phosphorescence produced from the bacteria laden decay. This will find the decay early, and hopefully allow its removal without invading the nerve canal of the tooth.