Posts for: February, 2018
February marks National Children's Dental Health Month. It’s important for children to form daily oral hygiene habits early, but how do you get little ones to take care of their teeth? Try these tips:
Describe your actions. When children are too young to brush on their own, gently brush their teeth for them, narrating as you go so they learn what toothbrushing entails. For example, “Brush, brush, brush, but not too hard,” or “Smile big. Let’s get the front teeth. Now let’s get the teeth in the very back.”
Make learning fun. Around age 3, children can start learning to brush their own teeth. To model proper technique, play follow the leader as you and your child brush teeth side by side, making sure to get all tooth surfaces. Then you both can swish and spit. After brushing together, brush your child’s teeth again to make sure hard-to-reach surfaces are clean. Note that children generally need help brushing until at least age 6.
Encourage ownership and pride. Children feel more invested in their oral health when they get to pick out their own supplies, such as a toothbrush with their favorite character and toothpaste in a kid-friendly flavor. To boost pride in a job well done, reward your child with a sticker or star after they brush their teeth.
Keep your child brushing for two minutes. According to the American Dental Association, toothbrushing should be a two-minute task. To pass the time, play a favorite song or download a tooth-brushing app designed to keep kids brushing the recommended two minutes. For increased motivation, electric toothbrushes for children often have a built-in two-minute timer as well as appealing characters, lights and sounds.
And don’t forget one more key to a lifetime of good oral health—regular dental visits. If you have questions about your child’s dental hygiene or if it’s time to schedule a dental visit, please contact our office. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children” and “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”
Cavities happen. It’s an unfortunate truth that affects approximately 40% of children by the age of 5 years old. Dental caries (cavities) in children is the most common chronic health disease in children, more common than asthma.
Many parents, upon hearing that their child has a cavity on their baby teeth, ask us, “Do we really need to treat it if the tooth is going to fall out anyway?”
The answer is, YES. Dental decay that is left untreated on baby teeth can actually cause harm for the permanent teeth below the gums. Poor dental health that begins in infancy can have longstanding effects on a child all the way through adolescence and adulthood.
However, we understand that treating especially young children, or those with special needs is not always an ideal choice, and sometimes the treatment can be better received when the child is a bit older. Silver Diamine Fluoride is a great option in these situations. While it’s not a solution for every child with dental caries, it can be a good band-aid fix for many.
What is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)? SDF is a liquid that is brushed directly on the cavity to stop decay. It is a painless procedure and can be a good treatment option for cavities if your child is young or has special needs, as SDF can help delay more extensive procedures such as drilling or sedation. Think of it as a band-aid solution, as it will not be a permanent solution to the cavity, but can buy the patient more time and keep the decay from worsening until the child is old enough for treatment to be more successful, or the baby tooth falls out.
Keep in mind that SDF blackens the decayed part of the tooth, leaving it discolored, and that the tooth will need to be monitored by your dentist to make sure that the cavity is not growing. But, if the cavity is on a baby tooth that will eventually fall out, or if the tooth is in the back of the mouth that’s hard to see, SDF might be a good option.
If you have questions, or would like to discuss Silver Diamine Fluoride as a treatment option for your child, please contact Anderson Pediatric Dentistry.
US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, US Public Health Service. Oral Health in America: Report of the US Surgeon General. NIH publication no. 00-213. Washington, DC: DHHS, NIDCR, USPHS; 2000.
How does your child’s dental health affect their education? Can their dental hygiene have an impact on their grades? Their happiness? Absolutely.
We all know that how we feel can impact our day. It’s hard to have a great day when you are in pain. The same is true for children with poor oral health. Imagine sitting through a day of school, trying to learn and perform your best, while suffering through a toothache or infection. It would be nearly impossible.
Children with poor oral health tend to miss more school for dental pain caused by infections, have a harder time focusing, display more behavior problems and even suffer psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. The pain is not only physical. Children with poor oral health may be impaired socially as they become embarrassed of their teeth, smile less and engage with their peers less. The impacts of poor oral health in children can be far-reaching, impacting their lives all the way into adulthood.
This is important because childhood caries (cavities) is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and adolescents. Its affects more kids than asthma! The good news is that there are easy ways to help your child achieve better oral health and better overall health.
At Anderson Pediatric Dentistry, we believe that every child deserves a smile they can be proud of. Following the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry’s guidelines for oral healthcare is the simplest way to achieve this.
- Monitor Kids Brushing: Parents and caregivers should help or watch over their kids’ tooth brushing abilities until they’re at least 8-years-old.
- The Right Toothbrush: Kids should use a soft toothbrush that allows them to reach all areas of their mouth. Replace toothbrushes every three-four months and even sooner if the bristles are worn out, or if your children have been sick.
- Brush Twice a Day: Plaque is a sticky film of germs that forms on teeth and gums after eating. Plaque that’s not removed daily can lead to cavities.
- Visit a Dentist: It’s important to visit your dentist regularly, starting within six months of the first tooth erupting, and at lease by age one. Pediatric dentists can detect small problems before they become bigger and more painful problems.
- Floss Your Teeth: Kids should clean between their teeth once a day, every day, with floss or flossers to remove plaque and food where a toothbrush can’t reach. Teeth should be flossed as soon as two of their teeth touch each other.
- Use Fluoride: Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and occurs naturally in water and some foods. To help protect teeth from cavities, fluoride is added to dental products like toothpaste. Children two years of age or older should always use a fluoride toothpaste.
- Baby Tooth Decay Happens: As soon as teeth appear in your baby’s mouth, it’s possible for your baby to develop cavities. It is important to keep your baby’s gums and teeth clean to prevent tooth decay, even in baby teeth.
- Prevent Kids’ Tooth Decay: You can prevent tooth decay for your kids by lowering the risk of your baby getting the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Make sure you take good care of your baby’s teeth – this reduces the number of bacteria in your baby’s mouth.
- Nutrition: A balanced diet helps your children’s teeth and gums to be healthy. A diet high in natural or added sugars may place your child at extra risk for tooth decay.
- A sugary or starchy food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Chewing during a meal helps produce saliva which helps wash away sugar and starch.
- Sticky food’s, like potato chips, raisins and other dried fruit and candy are not easily washed away from your kid’s teeth by saliva, water or milk, so they have more cavity-causing potential.
- Talk to your dentist about serving foods that protect your kid’s dental health.
Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.
As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.
Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.
Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.
Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome. If you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are usually placed on the surface of the tooth to help prevent them from decay. We take a plastic-like liquid and drip it onto the biting surface to coat the pits and fissures that trap food and bacteria. UV light is then applied to harden the liquid and coat the areas that are difficult to reach when brushing. These sealants can significantly help fight tooth decay.
Sealants are typically applied to the permanent back teeth- the molars and premolars. At Anderson Pediatric Dentistry, we recommend applying the sealants between the ages of 5 and 7, as soon as the teeth erupt. By applying the sealant as soon as the teeth arrive, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of those teeth developing dental caries.
Do sealants really work? Research says yes! In fact, research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association revealed that youth treated with dental sealants have about a 70 to 80 percent reduction in the occurrence of cavities, compared with those who do not receive sealants. Furthermore, sealants can often last for several years before they need reapplied and can be used over areas of early decay to stop the cavity from getting worse. Reading stats like that makes recommending sealants an obvious choice for us.
Applying dental sealants on your children’s teeth can have positive effects on your child’s long-term dental health, too. By reducing the chance of cavities on your child’s teeth when they are young and still learning proper dental care, you can help them avoid getting cavities on hard to reach areas that young children don’t always brush adequately. The sealants can act as a safety net to help protect teeth while our young patients are still perfecting their brushing techniques.
(photo provided by CDC webpage on oral health and dental sealants)
For more information about dental sealants, contact Anderson Pediatric Dentistry today. We can answer all your questions and discuss the benefits of dental sealants for your child.
If you would like to read more about the advantages of dental sealants and the current research and recommendations, visit these sites: