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Letter From Dear Doctor

Issue 17 of Dear Doctor Magazine

From Cradle to Grave Situation

In this issue we cover not only some new topics to Dear Doctor, but also some old and unfortunately too familiar ones. Healthcare from cradle to grave involves oral health to an increasing extent.

For example, research has shown that the most common chronic disease known to man, tooth decay, is in fact infectious. The main culprit is a bacterial species, Streptococcus Mutans, which is actually passed from parents and caregivers who have tooth decay via their saliva to the mouths of their children. We have published all that is currently known about dental decay, how to assess risk for infection, how to prevent it and how to treat it. But what we have not discussed is how to make all we know available to those who need it the most!

Access to care for our poor and uninsured, especially for our children, remains a fundamental problem. This is even more profound for children with special needs, and special certainly doesn't mean privileged. Special needs range from behavioral and psychological issues to medical and physical ones. In this issue we highlight their oral health needs and discuss strategies and current treatment approaches to help them maintain oral and dental health. In some cases getting dental and oral care is even more profoundly difficult than medical care. Parents and caregivers of special needs children experience difficultly in finding a dentist or pediatric dentist, not only trained to manage special needs children, but also who are willing to treat them.

At the other end of the spectrum is our aging population. Many older people have suffered the ravages of dental decay throughout their lifetimes only to find themselves edentulous — toothless in their golden years. They, too, may suffer from lack of access to care and also have limited financial capability. Without teeth, their diets are often limited and poor, leading to social isolation and compromise. In this issue we discuss how the art of full dentures can provide an elegant and relatively inexpensive solution to rehabilitate their oral and thus general health and well-being.

Dental decay in children and adults can result in a lifetime of pain and suffering, compromising diet and good nutrition, and the ability to just plain “LOL” laugh-out-loud. Dentistry has all the tools to prevent tooth decay and tooth loss — and take care of those most in need, our children and our elderly. As a society and as part of a health and healing profession, we can and must do better.

To our readers, if you have questions on these topics, please send them to us. We will do our best to advocate for your needs and to give them voice through the pages of our magazine.


Mario A.Vilardi, DMD

Garry A.Rayant, BDS, DDS, LDSRCS, MS

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