Brush, eat well, visit the dentist regularly: starts at an early age!

 

 

Fifteen month old Nicole wants to keep her teeth healthy. She is a diligent brusher, eats healthy foods and visits the dentist regularly. This wide handled toothbrush is especially made for small hands. Smart parents!

20140721_171913

A new mobile gaming app called “Toothsavers” has been launched by the Ad Council of the American Dental Association and the Partnership for Healthy Mouths.  This mobile device game asks children to rescue fairy tale characters from an evil, cavity-creating sorceress who casts a wicked, teeth rotting spell on the fairy tale kingdom.  The game was created in conjunction with the Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign.  A spokesperson for the Ad Council of the ADA said that “Mobile technology plays a major role in influencing young people’s behavior and is a great fit for this campaign.”

 

The game is part of the ongoing effort to use technology to promote health and well-being.  The mobile game has three key features to teach parents and children about the importance of dental health.  One, in a timed, finger-swipe brushing game, players can save characters from the cavity-creating sorceress.  Two, in the two-player version of the game, kids can “brush” the teeth of their opponents when the mobile device is held up to their mouths.   Three, the app offers a toothbrushing companion so children and their parents can keep track of the child’s brushing progress.  It  is also a morning and nighttime tooth brushing reminder.  So the app is both a teaching tool and a way to monitor a child’s toothbrushing routine.  The app is geared toward children of ages three to six.  It is available free in the App Store and Google Play for Android and iOS devices.  It can also be found on the internet at 2min2x.org/PlayToothsavers.  

 

Yes – I downloaded the app and clicked around.  Cute graphics. I like the slogan “2min2x” which means brush your teeth for two minutes, two times a day.  I’ll play it for kids in the office and see how they like it and how effective it is.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that insurers cover dental care for children. Children’s dental care is one of the ten essential health benefits that set the bar for health insurance.   But children’s dental care is separate from other essential benefits on the exchanges. Dental plans are sold separately from medical insurance and children’s dental coverage is optional.  People shopping on the federal and state exchanges are not required to purchase dental insurance, and they won’t receive financial support for it.  Experts are now warning that this flaw in the program may leave children without dental coverage.

 

Tooth decay is the most common disease of childhood.  Of children ages 6 – 19, fourteen percent have cavities that have not been treated. This can cause pain and might lead to severe infections.  The percentage of uninsured children who visited the dentist at least once per year was 25% in 2011 – down from 31% in 2003.  If children’s dental insurance were mandatory on the insurance exchanges, 3 million children would have coverage by 2018.  Data for this blog post was supplied from an article in the New York Times on December 17, 2013.

On Sundays in the New York Times, The Ethicist column answers ethical questions posed by readers – sort of a sophisticated Ann Landers. Last Sunday, just before Halloween, the column was called “Annual Cavity Drive.” The column was a reply to a dentist who had written in about dentists who offer to purchase candy from their patients during Halloween for $1 a pound. The dentists then donate the candy to a food pantry. His concern was that the people who use the food pantry can’t afford proper dental care. So is it unethical for a dentist to donate candy for their consumption?

The ethicist didn’t see much of a problem with this as it occurs just once a year and he didn’t think it could make that much difference in a person’s overall health. But he suggested that the dentists donate toothbrushes and floss along with the candy. I disagree with the ethicist and agree with the dentist – I have long felt that the practice of giving away candy is unseemly for a dentist. It reminds me of my childhood when dentists would distribute lollipops to their well-behaved patients.
People always ask me if I give away candy to trick-or-treaters in Setauket. No, I don’t give candy. I hold out a basket full of coins and let the kids dig in and take as much as they can grab. They never seem disappointed. Maybe they will buy candy anyway with the money I give them – but maybe not! Happy Halloween everyone!
halloween dentist marketing ploys

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Do you know of parents who suck on a pacifier before giving it to their baby?  Well they should know that this practice can transfer cavity-causing bacteria from the parent to the child.  The American Dental Association recently issued a statement responding to a study  in Pediatrics about the immunological benefits of adult saliva.  This study ignored the deleterious effect of cavity-causing bacteria that can be transferred from the adult saliva to the child.  This increases the risk of the child getting cavities.  Sharing silverware can also transmit this bacteria.  The ADA recommends a healthy diet, brushing teeth after mealtimes and having the infant finish his/her bottle before bedtime.  The first dental visit should be within six months of the eruption of the first tooth – and before age one.

losttooth1-e1369224968819-224x300

 

Rehaan lost his first baby tooth today. His Dad snapped this photo on his iphone and emailed it to me.  His permanent incisor is starting to erupt behind where the baby tooth fell out.  He received $5.00 under the pillow for this momentous event.  Such inflation! – I remember when a lost tooth was worth $1.00.  His twin brother Naseem is not far behind.  His permanent tooth is also erupting and his baby tooth is very loose.  The twins turned six just two weeks ago.  Tooth development is right on schedule!

What do you do if you or your child has a fall and a tooth is knocked out (we call this an avulsed tooth)? This is truly an emergency.  You need to know that the tooth has the best chance of survival if action is immediate.  Put the tooth in liquid – preferably milk – and get to the dentist immediately.  Milk is compatible with teeth and has essential nutrients and growth factors.

But I have recently read that soy milk is also an excellent medium for the avulsed tooth.  Soy milk is rich in protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are essential for cell nutrition.

 

 

Parents play an important role in transmitting fear of the dentist.  A recent study at the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid looked in particular at the role of fathers in transmitting dental fear.  Fathers act as a “mediating variable” which gives them a key role in transmitting dental fear.  According to the study, “children seem to mainly pay attention to the emotional reactions of the fathers when deciding if situations at the dentist are potentially stressful.”  In general, the higher the level of anxiety or fear in one family member, the higher the level in the rest of the family.

MSN’s Health Today ran an expose of a dental clinic that was bilking taxpayer of their money by charging patients for unnecessary, painful and shoddy dental work.  The clinic has been repeatedly investigated by the government and has had to pay large fines but it is still in business.  Unnecessary root canals and crowns, insufficient anesthesia, over use of restraints and large mouth props are only a few of the complaints.  See: http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2012/12/11/15839314-dental-chain-accused-of-hurting-kids-bilking-taxpayers?lite. How sad that children have to suffer for someone’s greed.

Several communities in the United States have stopped adding fluoride to their water systems.  Recently Pinellas County in Florida elected to stop adding fluoride to its public water supply although they just started the program 7 years ago.  Two hundred other communities have also stopped fluoridating in the past four years.  They are motivated by the economic downturn and by concern about the benefits of fluoride.

The US Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that it is a mistake to end public water fluoridation.  The Federal government recommends water fluoridation, a practice which began in the 1940’s.  About 72% of the American population drinks fluoridated water.

Although fluoride has been demonstrated to decrease tooth decay, large amounts can lead to dental fluorosis, or brown spots on the teeth.  In 2011 The federal Department of Health and Human Services recommended reducing the amount of fluoride added to the water supply to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water.  The old standard ranged from 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.

Did you know that Suffolk County water is not fluoridated? Many times people do not realize this.