As part of our involvement in Dental Health Awareness Month, our very own Dr. Skarbek took some time to talk about about the importance of regular checkups, screening, and more.
This interview was conducted by Alexandra Latremouille, a graduate of the St. Clair College Journalism Program and current Copywriter for Imaginative Group.
Alex: Why do people tend to think of dental health as separate from the health of the rest of the body?
Dr. Skarbek: They probably associate it differently because they see a standard medical physician for one thing and a dentist for the other. At the same time, there’s a lot of evidence that suggests several systemic diseases contribute to oral health problems.
Alex: Since you’ve been in the industry have you noticed any trends relating to people’s overall oral health?
Dr. Skarbek: I’ve noticed that children in particular have become susceptible to problems [with their teeth]. Some parents aren’t bringing their kids in regularly or even at all until later in life. We recommend bringing them in as soon as their first tooth comes in. By the age of two all of their teeth should be in, which is an ideal time to start coming for regular checkups. Even if there aren’t any problems, it just gets them in the routine of having checkups.
On the same wavelength, we see kids with decay all over their mouths because they don’t get their teeth looked at that often. Their parents don’t make them brush their teeth, there’s no fluoride in the city water, and they’re eating foods that are laden with sugar, as well. So, diet control is a huge factor in reversing this damage.
Alex: It’s interesting these issues [regarding children’s dental health] are just becoming prevalent now.
Dr. Skarbek: Well, I’m mostly basing this on my experience but yes. It can be really tragic when kids who haven’t had regular treatment come in with cavities so bad that surgery is the best option for them.
Alex: How does damage to one’s baby teeth affect their future dental health and development?
Dr. Skarbek: Baby teeth are considered space-holders for permanent teeth. So what usually happens is that, once you lose a tooth, the other teeth behind will shift forward into the place of that missing tooth. But if there are problems when the permanent tooth comes in. It could cause crowding and mean orthodontic work needs to be done. This can be avoided. If we notice that a baby tooth is missing we can put a spacer there to hold that place until its adult successor comes in.
Alex: One of the things Oral Health Awareness Month seeks to draw attention to is serious conditions like oral cancer. Is there anything you want to say about that condition in particular?
Dr. Skarbek: Coming in for checkups on a regular basis is important. It always is, but it’s absolutely the case here so you can get a screening done to track the condition’s development. When it comes to potential causes, you’ve got smoking, chewing tobacco, and alcohol consumption, for the most part.
Alex: I’m glad there are some ways to deal with this terrible condition and hopefully catch it before it gets out of hand.
Dr. Skarbek: Yes but that’s just it: the sooner you come in to be scanned, the better.
Alex: Moving onto something a little less serious: a lot of people probably have leftovers from Easter. What advice would you give to them about enjoying these holiday treats in moderation?
Dr. Skarbek: Moderation is certainly key to maintaining the health of your teeth and the rest of your body. But it’s also important to limit the duration of how long these foods sit on your teeth. That’s where brushing and flossing as carefully as you can after meals comes in handy, when possible.
Alex: Thank you for your time.