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New studies are showing that poor oral health, tooth decay,  and tooth pain are putting some children at risk for falling behind in school. It is widely believed that many children, regardless of socioeconomic conditions, are not receiving routine dental care on a regular basis from a dentist or hygienist. It seems like good dental care takes a back seat at times in many families lives for various reasons.

The study recently conducted and published in the American Journal of Public Health examined close to 1,500 socioeconomically disadvantaged elementary and high school students in the Los Angeles area. They then matched their oral health to their academic achievement and attendance records. In previous studies, researchers found that about 75% of disadvantaged children in Los Angeles county area had some level of tooth decay.

In this study, children who reported having tooth pain were 4x more likely to have a low grade point average when compared to children without oral pain. The results also found that the tooth pain also resulted in a higher amount of absences, as well as more missed work for parents. This leads to lost classroom time as well as lost pay for parents and the family.

What can Parents Do to Avoid this?

Good oral hygiene must begin as soon as the child’s first teeth erupt into the mouth. Many of these tips take just a little time and patience to facilitate good oral hygiene. The following are some tips for parents to maintain their children’s teeth:

Proper brushing. Many parents leave the tooth brushing up to their kids when they are as little as 2 years old. Parents and caregivers need to brush their child’s teeth, and then monitor that their children are brushing properly using a fluoride (as soon as they are old enough to spit and not swallow) toothpaste. Toothbrushing  can remove  up to 60% of the plaque, bacteria, and food debris from mouth.

Flossing. Yes, Flossing. Children can floss and in fact when they get in the habit as a child they have that habit for life. There are children’s flossers which make it easier for them to perform themselves but again parents need to instruct, demonstrate, and monitor the job they are doing.

Use a disclosing solution. A disclosing solution is a great tool to show what areas a child might be missing. It is effective in adults as well. It simply is a dye that colors the plaque remaining in your mouth. After you brush, you rinse with the disclosing solution to see what you have missed, then remove the remaining plaque and the color from your teeth. You are able to visually inspect how effective your hygiene techniques. It is a great learning tool, and it is highly effective.

Rinse with an anti-cavity rinse. Children need fluoride more so than adults due to the developing teeth. A good example of this is ACT fluoride rinse. It comes in many flavors and is easy to use. There are also prescription fluoride rinses that are swallowed after rinsing to strengthen developing teeth. These rinses are only available through your dentist or pediatrician. DO NOT swallow over the counter fluoride rinses or toothpaste, it is harmful to both adults and children in this improper concentration.

Avoiding or moderating sugars. Let’s face it children love their sweets from fruit roll ups to gummy bears to fruit juice. To avoid tooth decay we must modify that behavior and if they are to have these items have them brush and rinse soon after so the sugars do not have time to linger in their mouths.

Conclusion

Tooth Decay and Tooth Pain can be avoided or at the very least limited with proper dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. Remember it is far cheaper to see your dentist regularly for routine dental examinations and professional cleanings than to show up in pain.

 

Halloween is a fun time but also one of apprehension on the part of most parents. We always worry about our kids, but at certain times of the year, the worries become more pronounced. For parents, the worry at Halloween time, is the amount of candy their kids consume. This is due to a variety of reasons, behavior, weight gain, but especially their dental health. We all know by now eating lots of sugar and candy can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay. So what are some fun alternatives to that sugary, gooey candy that causes so many problems?

Top 10 Candy Alternatives

1. Sugar free xylitol gum. This is a great alternative to candy as it promotes dental health.  The chewing action of the gum actually promotes salivary flow which lessens the amount of time the sugars stay in the mouth thereby lowering the risk factors for tooth decay. This is also recommended as a tool after your kids indulge in candy to keep their mouths clean between brushing.

2. Halloween Stickers. Kids love stickers especially Halloween ones. The spookier and scarier the better and kids love them. You can even hand these out at the door to the neighborhood kids.

3. Vampire Teeth, spider rings. Go for the glow in the dark ones. Always a hit even with older kids.

4. Temporary Halloween Tattoos. If you go this route make sure you buy some that are for all ages and not just the cute bats and pumpkins. The older kids will want scary tattoos that look more mature.

5. Pretzels, potato chips & popcorn. There are many fun sized bags of these snacks available, a great choice and kids love them.

6. Pencils with Halloween erasers.

7. Silly String. Kids and adults love silly string.

8. Bubbles.

9. Halloween glow necklaces and bracelets. Fun and great for safety as you walk through the neighborhood!

10. Halloween Balloons.

Tips for Good Oral Health at Halloween and everyday!

Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste

Floss at least once a day. Some kids have trouble flossing the old fashioned way so there are kid friendly alternatives like flossers.

-Visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.

Hope Everyone has a Safe and Happy Halloween!!

 

Back to school for kids is always a nervous and exciting time for children and parents alike. What teacher will they get? Will their friends be in the in class with them?

One often overlooked item is school lunch and their associated snacks. Most schools these days have certain policies of trying to be more healthy and better educate kids and parents in nutrition.

As you head back to school, keep in mind what kind of foods and beverages you are giving your children to keep them energized going through their day. Many research studies have shown the importance of nutrition and its role in academic success. A good lunch (and healthy breakfast) can give kids the energy they need to stay focused throughout the entire school day.

Some parents choose to pack their children’s lunch box with fruit juice and other sweet drinks such as Gatorade. Cookies, fruit gummies, and candy bars are also chosen quite often for kids lunch snacks. Most children have little to no chance to practice dental hygiene while at school. As a result, these children are placed  at an increased risk for tooth decay. Remember that it is not just how much sugar our kids consume that causes tooth decay it is the length of time the sugar is left in the mouth, and sticky sugars stay the longest.

Tips For Choosing Healthy Lunches and Snacks

Involve your kids in decisions.Make a grocery list, get kids excited about shopping for items for their lunchboxes. Teach them the proper food choices to make and understand why bad choices are bad for them. Also, gives them control of what they are eating. A child who chooses their lunch and helps prepare their own food is more likely to eat it. Colorful, fun wrappings, baggies and containers make items more visually appealing too.

Think High Protein. Chicken, tuna, and egg salads can contain a lot of protein, which is great for a mid day pick me up. Do not use heavy amounts of Mayonnaise, as it is high in fat content. A good substitute many kids love is plain regular or greek yogurt, or olive oil mayo.

Make Whole Wheat, whole grain choices. Try whole wheat bread, pitas, bagels, or sandwich thins to keep sandwiches interesting and healthy. Brown rice, wheat or brown rice pasta,with beans, veggies or cheese,  are a great alternative as well. Whole grains stick with you longer than white flour breads, and are not converted to sugar directly in your mouth as white flour and white rice are.

Vegetables can be FUN! Vegetables can be made interesting for children by pairing them with fun dips. These dips can include low fat ranch, peanut butter, and hummus. Bright colorful pasta salads, and colorful veggie/bean salads are delicious and satisfying.

Keep warm foods warm, cold foods cold with a Thermos, or ice pack. Use a thermos to pack favorite soups (like chicken soup or even meatballs) and leftovers and keep them warm until lunchtime arrives, many snack containers come with convenient re freezable inserts to keep foods cool. Kids love hot meals at lunch in winter time, and cool, refreshing treats in summer.

Make sandwiches interesting. Use a cookie cutter to create fun sandwich shapes like dinosaurs, stars, or even hearts, you can even shape fruits such as pineapple and melon with cookie cutters.

Avoid sweets and candy. Instead of sweets or candy, try fun packs of squeezable applesauce, fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, baked potato chips, wheat pretzels and cheese as snacks.

-If kids buy lunch at school review the school lunch menu at the beginning of the week with your child, and decide with your children the days that they would like to buy lunch and what choices are best for them.

Chew Gum after meal. A chewing gum that is sweetened with xylitol is an excellent way to help prevent cavities.  Chewing gum, helps pull some of the stickier items out from between teeth, it also increases saliva which reduces the acid content in the mouth, and the xylitol inhibits cavity causing bacteria. It is easy to pack a piece of chewing gum in lunch box for a child to chew for a few minutes ( or have them count to 50) after lunch, and a napkin to place it in after chewing. Make sure to instruct them to dispose of gum when discarding other lunch trash, and NOT to bring it to recess. This habit will reduce sugar and acid content in mouth, and lower the risk of tooth decay.

Hope everyone has a great school year and keeps up their dental hygiene and schedules dental examinations as needed.



Pediatric Dentistry is the area of dentistry treating children from birth through adolescence. Children are special patients and have different needs than adults. So the field of dentistry developed a specialty of pediatric dentistry surrounding their needs. In general, pediatric dentistry takes care of severely broken down teeth requiring sedation. They also are great if your child is too fearful or disabled to handle treatment without sedation. Family dentists are also trained in pediatric dentistry and can treat children of all ages. A pediatric dentistry specialist is not always needed nor required for your children. Most children do quite well in a family dental practice and actually prefer to be with the rest of the family. The earlier a child starts with dental checkups, the easier it is on them and you. Problems are detected early and treatments can be quick and simple. Most children look forward to dental appointments when they have built a trust and confidence in their dentist. This is true for a family dentist or a pediatric dentist.

Whereas adult patients present with one set of teeth and its various issues. Children present to the dentist with three phases of teeth. These phases are called:

1) Deciduous Dentition (teeth) Phase. In this phase all of the child’s teeth are still baby or deciduous teeth. The child has not yet had any permanent teeth erupt.

2) Mixed Dentition Phase. This is where some of the child’s permanent teeth have erupted and replaced some of the primary teeth. So they have a mixture of primary and permanent teeth. This phase has also been coined the “ugly duckling phase”.

3) Permanent Dentition Phase. This is when all the child’s permanent teeth have erupted. This is the point where pediatric dentistry ends and adult dentistry begins.

Pediatric Dentistry Treatments

Oral Prophylaxis. Oral prophylaxis or prophy is another name for a children’s teeth cleaning by hygienist or dentist. The procedure involves some very light use of hand instruments to clean around teeth along with brushing and educational instructions. Education will be reinforced after every visit to ensure patient follows up at home and understands the importance of keeping their teeth clean.

-Application of Fluoride. Fluoride applications can be done in two ways, through the tray method or the paint-on method. Both methods are quite effective at providing the developing teeth with the right amount of fluoride. It is totally a child’s personal preference. The choice is there to make it more comfortable on the child. Pediatric dentistry should always involve choices for the patient so they feel like they are intimately involved in making decisions in their dental care.

-Sealants. These are also called pit and fissure sealants because they are designed to fill in the pits and fissures that are part of a child’s teeth natural anatomy. It is recommended to place sealants on the molar and premolar teeth as soon as they come in. This is because you do not want to risk tooth cavities when you can have protection from the beginning. When properly applied and maintained, they can successfully protect the chewing surfaces of children’s teeth. By forming a thin covering over the pits and fissures, sealants keep out plaque and food, thus decreasing the risk of developing a cavity.  Since the covering is only over the biting surface of the tooth, areas on the side and between teeth are not protected by the sealant.

-Preventive Resin Restoration (also called PRR). This procedure is used in pediatric dentistry for teeth that have already developed very small cavities. This technique is similar to a sealant but the small amount of decay must be removed first. Using a PRR will prevent the progression of the cavity from going any deeper into the tooth.

Dental Bonding. Dentists are able to restore cavities that are larger than a PRR can fix using tooth colored dental materials. This will allow the teeth to remain white and not be noticeable upon smiling. Dental bonding is not as prevalent in pediatric dentistry as in other forms of dentistry.

-Pulp Therapy.The pulp (or nerve) of a tooth is the inner center of the tooth. Nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue and reparative cells are all inside the pulp. In pediatric dentistry the purpose of pulp treatment is to maintain the affected tooth so that the tooth is not completely lost, and can hold the space for the permanent tooth. This can help retain a good bite and makes braces less likely. The main reasons in pediatric dentistry for pulp treatment are dental cavities and trauma. In pulp treatment the dentist removes the diseased pulpal tissue. An antibacterial agent is placed inside the tooth to prevent further bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue in the tooth. A stainless steel crown usually follows this procedure.

Stainless Steel Crowns. This type of Crown is used in pediatric dentistry to restore teeth that have been badly damaged due to large cavities, excessive teeth grinding or wear.  They are used when a filling is not possible in a tooth because of the amount of damage present. For front teeth, stainless steel crowns with white facing are used to help with aesthetics.

-Extractions. Tooth removal may be necessary in pediatric dentistry for various reasons, including, infection, risk of infection, preparation for orthodontics, over crowding, teeth growing behind other teeth, or for larger cavities that cannot be restored.

Space Maintainers or early Orthodontic Evaluations. Space Maintainers are used to hold the proper amount of space for permanent teeth. When a primary tooth is lost too early, the teeth beside it may tilt or drift into that empty space. Teeth in the opposing jaw may move up or down to fill the gap.  As teeth beside the gap shift into the empty space, they create a lack of space in the jaw for the permanent teeth.  When this occurs, permanent teeth are over crowded and can come in crooked. If left untreated, the condition may require extensive and costly orthodontic treatment.

Space maintainers are used to in pediatric dentistry to prevent any drifting of teeth and loss of space in your child’s teeth.  They keep the remaining teeth in place until a permanent tooth fills that space. Space maintainers are appliances made out of metal and are custom designed and fitted to your child’s mouth. Using space maintainers is more affordable and easier on your child than having to move those teeth back in place with orthodontic treatment.

Recognizing orthodontic issues early, gives the dentist more options to plan for the future as the rest of the teeth develop.

Pediatric dentistry has its own special challenges but with dedication by dentist, parents, and child it can be a great experience. Education needs to be at the forefront of all pediatric dentistry.