Toothsavers Gaming App Now Available

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.

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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!

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.

A new consensus statement on the safety and importance of dental health care for pregnant women is available to the public in PDF format at www.mchoralhealth.org.  Just click on the Consensus Statement link for a PDF of this 24 page document.  The document was prepared as a result of a meeting of the Health Resources Services Administration, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in October, 2011.

The document states that dental care is both safe and important throughout pregnancy.  Emergency or acute care may be provided at any time during pregnancy.   Use of xrays, pain medication and local anesthesia, if necessary,  are all safe throughout pregnancy.  It is important to have the oral cavity checked for swollen or bleeding gums, dental decay, tooth-related pain, soft tissue lesions, signs of infection or trauma, problems eating, and history of vomiting since becoming pregnant.

The document advises that when a pregnant woman is being treated by her dentist her head should be elevated above her feet.  She should be in a semi-reclining position, as tolerated, and frequent position changes should be allowed.  A small pillow should be placed under the hip and she should turn slightly to the side to avoid dizziness or nausea from hypotension.

The document  includes a table of common drugs: their indications, contraindications and special considerations during pregnancy.  It also includes information on maintaining good oral health and how to take care of the new infant’s oral health.

April is National Facial Protection Month.  It is the time for dentists to remind people about using safety devices to protect their face, head, and mouth against injuries.  Mouthguards should be worn while engaging in any sport that could involve injury, such as basketball and volleyball, as well as football and hockey.  Several years ago I treated an adult hockey player who played for a Long Island hockey team. He had all of his front teeth knocked out.  He then recommended me to the rest of his team.  I saw so many dental injuries that could have been prevented with a mouthguard.  Helmets are also crucial to reduce the risk of head and brain injuries.  And don’t forget protective eyewear and face shields when appropriate.  A mouthguard usually covers the upper teeth and can cushion a blow to the mouth, limiting the risk of fractured teeth and soft tissue injuries.  A properly fitted mouthguard stays in place and allows the user to talk an breathe easily.

The ADA has more information on mouthguards at http://ada.org/2970.aspx including discussion of dental emergencies and the advantages and disadvantages of stock, boil-and-bite, and custom fitted mouthguards.  Also look at my blog entry about mouthguards.

 

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Athletic Mouthguard

A lovely young lady came into the office last week with a complaint of brown spots on her teeth.  She needed to know that these brown spots were decayed spots (cavities).  The spots were not merely cosmetic but needed to be restored immediately before further damage occurred to her teeth.  The spots (really pitted areas in the enamel) were caused by plaque accumulation around her orthodontic brackets.  As a teenager her oral care was not as thorough as it could have been.  The acids from the bacteria resting on the plaque destroyed the enamel.  She did not visit the dentist the entire time of her orthodontic treatment.  Luckily I will be able to restore her teeth and she is determined to take better care of her teeth from now on.

I was leaving a family celebration last week and stopped to say “thank you” to the restaurant manager to whom I had only spoken on the phone.  He smiled and we shook hands.  I glanced at his teeth (an irresistible temptation to a dentist)  and saw – to my surprise –  an extra left canine tooth!  This is very rare and something I have never seen before.   Should I say something or not?  Would that be insulting?  But I couldn’t resist so I mentioned this anomaly to him as nicely as I could, all the while trying to hide my excitement.   He laughed out loud, giving me a really good look at this supplemental tooth (we call it a supernumerary tooth).  Yes, he said, he has known about it and has had conflicting opinions on whether or not to have it extracted.  I weighed in my opinion – yes, have it extracted if possible because it looks funny sitting up there above the plane of occlusion.  He let me take a photo and we parted, best friends.

Supernumeraries do occur – usually an extra central incisor, and one of my dental school classmates was famous for having an extra wisdom  tooth.  But it is more common for teeth to be congenitally missing.  The lateral incisors are most commonly missing and lower bicuspid teeth.  Today these missing teeth are replaced with implants.

Yes we do take dental emergencies!  I always try to make myself available.  If I am not in the office and the phone rings, I will immediately get a text message from my answering service.  One time I was on my way into New York City on the Northern State Parkway but turned right around so I could take care of a patient of record.  Most recently I drove off of the Ferry line just before loading so I could see another patient.  Some of our most loyal patients first came to us as emergency patients.

Last Saturday a woman called – very upset because her front tooth had fallen out of her partial denture.  I told her to come right over.  I did a quick tooth repair to get her through the weekend and scheduled her for Monday morning when I could take an impression for a more durable solution.  This week a woman called – also upset – because her bridge (fabricated by another dentist) had fallen out.  Again I told her to come right over and I made her a provisional crown until we could discuss more permanent solutions.

I find that it is very gratifying to help out people who are in distress.  To be able to help people achieve dental health and a beautiful smile is one of the reasons why I chose dentistry as a career.

Harmful bacteria from a parent’s mouth can be passed to a baby’s mouth, putting the child at increased risk for dental decay.  Most American caregivers don’t realize that they can pass dental disease to their babies.   Streptocccus mutans bacteria is transferred when items contaminated with saliva enter the child’s mouth.  This can occur through shared food or eating utensils or through cleaning a baby’s pacifier in one’s mouth.  Americans often share utensils with their children but this passing of bacteria can lead to dental decay.

Babies are born without any harmful bacteria in their mouths but once bacteria colonize in their mouth, the child may be prone to decay.  If the parent has a history of poor dental health, he/she is more likely to pass these harmful germs.  So practice good oral hygiene and keep your children’s teeth healthy!

A patient told me that after his daughter got 4 cavities by the age of 4, he decided that he needed to start flossing her teeth.  Once he started the flossing routine she did not have any more cavities.  But she didn’t like the flossing, and her complaining made the sessions unpleasant.

As his daughter got older and was hearing from other kids about the tooth fairy who gives money for teeth that fall out, she got excited about the prospect of cashing in on her lost baby teeth.  This gave her father an idea.  He told her that the tooth fairy doesn’t like dirty teeth.  If the tooth fairy comes and you do not floss, she will only give a quarter.  But if his daughter were to floss every night the tooth fairy would give $2.00 per tooth.  This did the trick: she started flossing without complaint.  A harmless bribe and healthy too!