Dr. Heather R. Bussey is a dentist at Austell Dental Associates in Austell and recently opened a practice in Atlanta, GA called Town Dentistry. She has been practicing General Dentistry for almost six years. Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, we wanted to take some time to get some tips on keeping our kids’ teeth healthy.
Dr. Bussey: Throughout my education, I knew I wanted to be involved in some aspect of healthcare and decided on dentistry while in college. I love what I do.! It is an incredible profession to be in as I get to interact with so many people every day. To be able to help someone feel better who has been in pain, or to help someone overcome a fear of dentistry, reinforces my passion for my career daily.
OWG: February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Why is it so important for kids to have regular visits to the dentist?
Dr. Bussey: It is essential for children to see their family dentist every six months for a check up, cleaning and x-rays. X-rays are typically taken once a year, depending on the needs of each patient. At these visits, cavities, gingivitis and other conditions can be diagnosed and scheduled for treatment. If these conditions go undiagnosed and untreated, they can leave to abscesses, toothaches, broken teeth, worsened conditions of the gums, and more. Prevention is the key to dental health!
OWG: As a child, I remember the terror of a visit to the dentist’s office. What are some of the ways you help kids (and parents) have a positive experience?
Dr. Bussey: The fear of dentistry is very common. I see it daily in my practice and fortunately have several ways to help the children have a positive dental experience. I am very patient and understand that my patients, especially children, are apprehensive about having dental work done. We use laughing gas (Nitrous Oxide) when needed to help our patients relax. Sometimes just taking the extra time to explain what we are going to do can help patients be less fearful. Gaining the trust of my patient is usually the key to helping them through their fear of dentistry.
OWG: What are some tips for taking care of your teeth between visits?
Dr. Bussey: In between dental visits, I recommend patients brush their teeth at least twice a day, or after each meal, floss daily, and use toothpaste as well as alcohol-free mouthwash that contain Fluoride.
OWG: Why is a nutrient-rich diet important for helping kids with their long-term dental health?
Dr. Bussey: As far as diet is concerned, a balanced diet is best. It is important to minimize the intake of sugary foods. Many foods, even some nutrient-rich ones like bread and milk, break down into sugar and can cause cavities. By brushing after meals, the chances of getting cavities will decrease.
OWG: What is your favorite healthy snack?
Dr. Bussey: One of my favorite snacks is an apple. Not only do they have vitamins and nutrients, but also because they are typically crunchy. As an apple is chewed, the texture of the apple helps to clean the plaque and other food debris off the surface of teeth. Apples do have sugar, though, so it is still very important to brush your teeth afterwards.