I’m sure most of you who watch the news heard about the recent controversy over a dentist currently working out of his house in the Greater Vancouver area. Have you ever wondered if your dentist is qualified and how you can tell when searching for the right dentist for you?
To become dentists in North America, the applicants have to have completed an accredited dental degree in an University – either Doctorate in Dental Medical (DMD) or Doctorate in Dental Surgery (DDS). The Commission of Dental Accreditation Canada (CDAC – www.cda-adc.ca/cdacweb/en/about_CDAC) is responsible for measuring these education programs are up to predetermined national standards. After completing the dental program, the graduates have to pass exams offered by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (www.ndeb.ca) in order to obtain licensure to practice in the different provinces of Canada. In British Columbia, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC (www.cdsbc.org) is responsible for the registrations of dentist and dental assistants.
To become a pediatric dentist, general dentists have to take additional two to three years of trainings after graduating from dental schools. These specialized programs help prepare pediatric dentists to handle the unique needs of infants, children, adolescents and special needs patients. At the completion of the pediatric dental specialty program, one has to write an exam offered by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons (RCDC – www.rcdc.ca) in order to be certified as a pediatric dental specialist and to use the title of Fellow of Royal College of Dental Surgeons (FRCD(C))
It’s wonderful that Canada has systems and regulations in place to maintain competency of dental professionals in the country. These organizations ensure the quality of dental care is up to standards so patients can have a peace of mind!
There has been much discussion about whether you should give your child a pacifier and when it is appropriate to take it away. Like everything else, there are always the good and the bad associated with pacifier use and finger/thumb sucking habits in infants. Let’s look at some of the different point of views.
There are many benefits that have been linked to pacifier use in infants. Pacifiers are known to provide a calming effect and have been used to prevent pain and anxiety in newborns and infants under 6 months old, especially those who have undergone surgery. In preterm infants, pacifier use is associated with shorter hospital stays, an earlier transition to bottle feeding and improved bottle feeding. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is another serious concern in infants. Some studies have shown that when pacifier is given to an infant at the onset of sleep, it could help reduce the risk of SIDS by 50-60%. It is common that pacifiers will fall from the infants’ mouths soon after they fall asleep but the protective effect of SIDS, surprisingly, persists throughout the sleep period. The exact mechanism of how pacifier use prevents SIDS is not fully understood. It is thought that the pacifier may decrease the likelihood an infant will roll onto their stomach. It may also help maintain an open airway for the child and increase arousal.
As with most things, there can be some complications of pacifier use. Some people believe that pacifier use is linked to early weaning of breastfeeding or difficulties with breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends postponing using a pacifier until breastfeeding habits are well established in order to prevent this from happening. It has also been noted that pacifier use or finger/thumb sucking over the age of 3 is associated with a higher likelihood of incorrect bite of teeth. However, pacifier and finger sucking habits for children under 3 are unlikely to create any long-term effects on the developing teeth . Another potential risk is infection since pacifiers are often colonized with Candida and bacterial organisms. Interestingly, latex pacifiers harbor significantly more Candida and Staphylococcus than silicone pacifiers. Pacifiers have also been linked to middle ear infections. This may be the case because of reflux of nasopharyngeal secretions into the middle ear from the sucking action or eustachian tube dysfunction from the altered dental structure.
Babies and young children sucking on pacifiers or fingers are very innate and natural, they may even have started doing this before they are born. This action gives them security and allows them to explore the world around them. If your child finds comfort in the use of pacifier, you don’t have to lose sleep about it, as most of the children stop sucking on a pacifier or other object on their own by the age of 2 to 4. Some parents would prefer their children sucking on a pacifier rather than their fingers. Both habits affect the teeth the same way but a pacifier habits may be easier to break. If you have questions or concern about pacifier use, do not hesitate to give us a call. We would be more than happy to help you and your child out.