By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BROOKLYN — Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that dentists nationwide are seeing more preschoolers with six to 10 cavities or more. The decay can be so advanced that some dentists are performing extensive dental work using general anesthesia.
Dentists say the problem stems from lack of good tooth-brushing habits, endless snacking and parents’ ignorance about when to take kids to the dentist.
To help combat this trend, last Friday the Brooklyn Heights dental offices of Moshman and Bowers invited a preschool class from local preschool Kiddie Korner to visit and learn about the joys of the dentist office.
About half of the preschoolers told this reporter that they had visited a dentist before, and eagerly pointed out gaps in their teeth. (Curiously, many of preschoolers said they have never received a visit from the tooth fairy.)
Dr. Christopher Bowers said that he always tries to make a young child’s first visit to the dentist easy. “I use the ‘tell, show, do’ technique,” he said. “I show them the mirror, tell them what it’s used for, then we do it together.”
The excitement of a dozen 4-year-olds gathered around a dental chair cannot be overstated. The group watched as Dr. Bowers demonstrated the proper way to brush teeth, then eagerly examined the dental mirror he passed around. Several tried out the mirror and an oversized brush on a giant set of teeth sitting on a side table.
The point of a fun visit is to minimize children’s anxiety at future dental visits, Dr. Bowers said. “We show them what a dentist does, put on gloves and a mask, things that make them anxious.” Children should visit the dentist by age 1 or when the first tooth erupts, he said. “Usually I see them by 2 and a half.”
The kids giggled when Bowers put on a surgical mask painted with a funny animal face and reached out eagerly for the balloon animal that he made from an inflated latex glove.
The big moment, however, came when Bowers, joined by his associate Dr. Stanley Moshman, gave each child a ride in the motorized chair, turned on his dental headlamp and counted their teeth. The kids thought it was a great game and stretched their mouths open as far as possible.
Two of the children, no doubt suspected a trap, begged off. “That’s OK,” Bowers told them.
The visit was all too short for the Kiddie Korner kids. Teachers Chana Adler and Yocheved Eber lined them up in the waiting room as several adult customers smiled at the noisy cuteness of it all. Dr. Moshman’s wife, Karen Moshman, handed the teachers a goodie bag, to be distributed back at school.
“We’ve made several school visits,” she said, “but this is the first time we’ve had a class visit the office.” Ms. Moshman added that the dental office recently visited P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights.
As the class trouped out the door, Dr. Bowers called after them, “Remember to brush your teeth twice a day!”