Good dental care starts at an early age

On the long to-do list that comes with new parenthood, dentistry usually takes a backseat to more urgent matters. Local dentists, however, urge parents to begin practicing proper dental habits before teeth even begin to surface as the foundation for a lifetime of good health.

Establishing a dental home

Dr. K. Jean Beauchamp recommends taking children to the dentist by age 1. “A main reason that we like to see them so early,” she says, “is simply so that we can ensure that teeth are erupting properly. Additionally, we like to encourage parents to establish their child’s dental home.”

By building a relationship with a dentist, she explains, parents have a familiar place to turn in the event that their child becomes injured or suffers from unusual dental pain.

Dr. Larry Deeds of the Children’s Dentist explains that if your child should experience an accident involving their teeth, it is important to bring them to the dentist, even if you believe that there is no damage to their teeth. “They need to bring them in immediately so that we can check the teeth and take an X-ray,” he says. “Damage isn’t always seen with the naked eye, but children can crack a root which then damages adult teeth.”

First visit

Barring an accident, of course, a child’s first visit to the dentist is relatively simple. “We never require a child to sit in the chair,” Dr. Beauchamp explains. “We prefer to allow them to sit in their parent’s lap while we look at their teeth.”

Dr. Deeds uses the same practice and says that it allows children to remain comfortable while they check for proper tooth eruption and dental hygiene.

“We use the first visit,” Deeds explains, “to talk to the parents about what they’re doing to take care of their child’s teeth as they begin to come in, which is usually around six months for their lower front teeth.”

“We look,” Dr. Beauchamp says, “at what they’re eating, drinking, how they take it. We go through a questionnaire and do a risk assessment based on parental history. Once we do all of the talking, we look at the child’s hard and soft tissue, their bite development, look for future issues that might come up.”

The most important thing for Dr. Beauchamp, however, is leaving the child with positive memories of the experience. “We try to send them off with a toy and a balloon and make it a happy visit.”

Addressing common mistakes

Both Dr. Deeds and Dr. Beauchamp agree that there are a few mistakes that they, as dentists, are passionate about correcting. “We see so many parents that think that they’re doing good things for their young children by giving them juice,” Dr. Deeds says. “If they want juice, give them some fruit, but never give them juice in a bottle or a sippy cup. It just dissolves their teeth.”

Dr. Beauchamp concurs. “If your child does have something with a great deal of sugar, take a damp cloth and simply wipe their teeth.”

When to use a toothbrush

By the time children are 15 months old, it is recommended that they begin using a toothbrush with parental assistance. “Many parents aren’t aware,” Dr. Deeds says, “that children don’t have the fine motor skills to adequately brush their teeth until around age eight. Parents should be checking to make sure they’re brushing well.”

Dentists agree that fluoride should be avoided until at least age 2, but Dr. Deeds recommends holding off until age 3. “Even then,” he says, “use a very small, pea-sized amount.”

‘Make things fun’

Perhaps the most important thing a parent can do for their child is instill in them a sense of pride in their personal dental hygiene. “Modeling is a great way to do that,” Dr. Deeds says. “Brush your teeth with them or with an older sibling. They’ll want to be one of the big kids.”

“Always make sure, as well,” Dr. Beauchamp says, “that you make things fun. Get a toothbrush that plays a little song, buy a special toothbrush timer and always, always make coming to the dentist a fun, special day!”

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Dental care, hydration crucial for athletes

Everyone needs to take care of their teeth, but athletes can have a special burden. The sugary drinks, dry mouths, sweating and falling can each take a toll, some more than others, says Dr. Sharon Colvin, an athlete and an assistant professor in the department of general dentistry at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Here’s an edited transcript of a Q&A with Colvin.

Q: What’s most damaging to an athlete’s mouth: extra sugar and carbs in sports foods and drinks, extended periods of dry mouth, sweating or falling?

A: By far, what’s most damaging is the extra sugar found in sports drinks such Gatorade and protein shakes and sports foods like protein/meal replacement bars. Surely dry mouth coupled with heavy consumption of sports drinks, protein shakes and food bars high in fermentable carbs (sucrose, fructose, and glucose) would be the most damaging to the athletes’ dentition.

Dry mouth is the result of the absence of a normal flow of saliva, or “spit,” throughout the oral cavity. Without normal salivary flow, the food which remains in the mouth after a meal is not washed away; the acid produced by specific bacteria in the mouth, which penetrates the tooth and causes decay, is not neutralized; and the first-line defense, the immune property found in saliva to prevent bacterial overgrowth, is diminished. These factors, coupled with a heavy consumption of sports beverages and foods high in sugar, can lead to rampant tooth decay.

Q: Are athletes better off sticking to water, and how often should they take a drink?

A: Water, without question, is considered the ultimate thirst quencher for the endurance athlete, and it is better for teeth. However, low-sugar sports drinks (like G2, which is a low-sugar Gatorade) offer the water necessary for hydration plus the carbs and electrolytes that tend to provide the energy we need to stay strong in the race to the end with less sugar. Plus, the flavors found in the sports drinks help to take the monotony out of drinking just water. During my half-marathon race, I found that drinking a small amount of water and Gatorade (G2) every two to three miles helped me. However, everyone is different, and athletes should gauge the amount of hydration they need, and how often, while training for a given race.

Q: Can sugar-free gum help, or are there other methods to help athletes protect their teeth?

A: I have found that when I am engaged in training for a race or in the actual race, gum chewing of any kind gets really “slimy” and a little distracting, so I don’t chew gum during my endurance activities. There are fluoride mouth rinses that can be used before and after a race. Also, rinsing with regular tap water, which contains fluoride, can provide protection against tooth decay caused in part by a high consumption of sports drinks, protein shakes/food bars.

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Educational tips and tricks

Photo via Rdhmag.com

Like many technologies, patient education systems work best when used to their full potential. Through my experiences, I have a few tips and tricks to help every practice maximize its patient education system and create a better patient experience.

1. Use patient education systems during all stages of the appointment

Patient education systems can and should be used before, during, and after an appointment, not just when a patient is in the chair.

Before – Hygienists now have the opportunity to begin educating patients before they even walk through the door. Sending the patient an email with a quick video of a procedure they’re about to undergo is a good way to prep for the appointment and ensures the patient knows what to expect. If the patient is a child, CAESY Cloud offers the “Andy” video series, which aims to calm the nerves of children before their first dental visit.

During – There are often natural breaks during an appointment that allow hygienists to present educational videos to a patient. While waiting for the dentist, play a video for the patient regarding any problems you’ve noticed or to help clear up any questions the patient might have asked about during the visit.

After – Education doesn’t have to end when the appointment is over. Send a follow-up email to answer any lingering questions a patient may have or to give information on a procedure you feel a patient would benefit from. This helps keep the dentist top-of-mind for the patient and positions the hygienist as a valued source of information.

2. Personalize for each patient

Every patient learns differently, so hygienists should present information in a way that best suits each patient. CAESY Cloud offers several types of presentations that allow hygienists to tailor their message. Some videos allow users to stop, slow down, and rewind an animated diagram of a procedure while the hygienist explains what is happening in his or her own words. A personalized presentation allows a patient to ask questions and helps foster great conversation and a more meaningful relationship.

A good use for this tool is when explaining a root canal. Many patients have a very scary perception of the procedure, but when it’s explained to them, they realize the procedure isn’t nearly as frightening as they initially believed. By going through each step of the procedure with the help of CAESY, a hygienist can watch a patient’s reactions and relieve any concerns he or she may have with specific segments of the video. When patients feel they’re being treated as individuals, they can feel more at ease and comfortable with a decision.

3. Educate while patients wait

The waiting room is a great opportunity to educate patients before an appointment starts. If the hygienist knows a patient has asked about specific dental work, he or she can play a video in the reception area to address that specific treatment. This can help a patient remember he or she had asked about a treatment previously and encourage action. This can often be the spark the patient was waiting for when it comes to selecting a procedure.

Displaying general videos about cosmetic dentistry also creates an opportunity for patients to mention they’ve been thinking about certain cosmetic treatments, and for hygienists to present more information regarding the options available.

4. Build relationships

Repeat patients are key to a successful and thriving practice. A patient education system such as CAESY Cloud can act as a trusted third-party resource to educate patients in an unbiased way. Several videos in CAESY’s video library offer patients lessons in preventive care on topics such as proper brushing and flossing techniques. Although these lessons may sound basic, prevention videos show patients you care about their long-term health and are committed to providing them the best overall dental care. And best of all, it only takes 60 seconds during an appointment, so you can put it on while getting the instruments ready.

By knowing a patient’s needs and providing them with this resource in an appropriate manner, you can help them feel more comfortable and encourage them to be more loyal to you and the practice.

5. Start slow

Implementing new workflows may be challenging. If you want to integrate CAESY videos into your daily routine – but want to do it slowly – create manageable goals for the number of patients with whom you and your team are going to use your education system. A great starting point is two patients a day. At the end of the day, have every team member meet and go over best practices. Sometimes a team might discover certain personality types were more perceptive to the videos and responded favorably.

With the whole office working together and gaining confidence using the system, patient education will become second nature.

When used properly, patient education systems empower hygienists to be an even greater source of information to patients and help foster relationships based on trust. By personalizing each presentation to the patient, hygienists can maximize the effect of patient education systems and help increase case acceptance throughout the practice.

 

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Athletes should pay extra attention to dental care, expert says

Everyone needs to take care of their teeth, but athletes can have a special burden. The sugary drinks, dry mouths, sweating and falling can each take a toll, some more than others, says Dr. Sharon Colvin, an athlete and an assistant professor in the department of general dentistry at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

Are athletes more prone to experience problems with their teeth, or just endurance athletes?

It has been my experience as a runner and power walker as well as a dentist for almost 30 years that athletes/endurance athletes do face some challenges when it comes to oral care. However, athletes are more prone to experience problems with bodily injuries versus problems with their teeth. They also tend to be particularly meticulous about self-care, which can actually help with their oral health.

What’s most damaging to an athlete’s mouth: extra sugar and carbs in sports foods and drinks, extended periods of dry mouth, sweating or falling?
By far, what’s most damaging is the extra sugar found in sports drinks such Gatorade and protein shakes and sports foods like protein/meal replacement bars — not sweating, extended periods of dry mouth or falling alone. Surely dry mouth coupled with heavy consumption of sports drinks, protein shakes, and food bars high in fermentable carbs (sucrose, fructose, and glucose) would be the most damaging to the athletes’ dentition.

Dry mouth is the result of the absence of a normal flow of saliva, or “spit,” throughout the oral cavity. Without normal salivary flow, the food which remains in the mouth after a meal is not washed away; the acid produced by specific bacteria in the mouth, which penetrates the tooth and causes decay, is not neutralized; and the first-line defense, the immune property found in saliva to prevent bacterial overgrowth, is diminished. These factors, coupled with a heavy consumption of sports beverages and foods high in sugar, can lead to rampant tooth decay.

Dry mouth may also be the result of an underlying medical disorder (e.g., Sjogren’s syndrome) or it may be the result of a side effect of medication: antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers or diuretics.

As a runner/power walker who happens to take medication for hypertension (a diuretic), I am very conscientious about my sugar consumption in an effort to prevent tooth decay. I brush and floss before and after meals or rinse vigorously with tap water until I am able to brush during my workday. At night before going to bed, I brush, floss and rinse with tap water and an over-the-counter fluoride mouth rinse.

Are athletes better off sticking to water, and how often should they take a drink?
Water, without question, is considered the ultimate thirst quencher for the endurance athlete and it is better for teeth. However, low-sugar sports drinks (like G2, which is a low-sugar Gatorade) offer the water necessary for hydration plus the carbs and electrolytes which tend to provide the energy we need to stay strong in the race to the end with less sugar. Plus, the flavors found in the sports drinks help to take the monotony out of drinking just water. During my half-marathon race, I found that drinking a small amount of water and Gatorade (G2) every two to three miles helped me. However, everyone is different, and athletes should gauge the amount of hydration they need, and how often, while training for a given race.

Can sugar-free gum help, or are there other methods to help athletes protect their teeth?

I have found that when I am engaged in training for a race or in the actual race, gum chewing of any kind gets really “slimy” and a little distracting, so I don’t chew gum during my endurance activities. There are fluoride mouth rinses that can be used before and after a race. Also, rinsing with regular tap water, which contains fluoride, can provide protection against tooth decay caused in part by a high consumption of sports drinks, protein shakes/food bars.

Is pain the only way to identify when there is a problem, and when should an athlete see a dentist?

Pain is one way to identify when there is a tooth-related problem. However, mobile teeth and teeth which are hypersensitive to sweets and experience lingering discomfort (longer than a few seconds) when exposed to a cold or hot beverage/food item are examples of other ways one may identify a tooth problem that should be addressed. As far as the frequency of dental visits by athletes is concerned, the American Dental Association says, “There is no one-size-fits-all dental treatment. Some people need to visit the dentist once or twice a year; others may need more visits. You are a unique individual, with a unique smile and unique needs when it comes to keeping your smile healthy.” I concur. Athletes are unique individuals and when one is to see a dentist, or how often, is contingent upon the specific needs of the “unique” athlete.

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Dentists strive to improve dental care for children with autism

Pediatric Dental Practice– Dental care for children on the autism spectrum has always been a challenge for many parents. A number of dentists, however, are trying to eliminate that problem.

Nicole Brown of Katy, Texas had the same dilemma until she finally found Dr. Amy Luedemann-Lazar, a pediatric dentist in Houston. Unlike all other dentists that Brown had tried to reach out to in the past, Dr. Luedemann-Lazar used an entirely different approach in caring for Brown’s now 13-year-old daughter, Camryn Cunningham. Instead of using sedation, Dr. Luedemann-Lazar asked to see Camryn every week to establish rapport as well as to allow the child to be familiar with the dental office. Her approach was effective.

Dr. David Tesini of Sadbury, Mass. used a similar approach in his recently released DVD for his brainchild, the D-termined program. Tesini’s program aims to educate professionals about the strategies that could be used in treating uncooperative children, including those with autism.

Dr. Cavan Brunsden of New Jersey believes that dental care for children on the spectrum should start as early as their toddler stage. Brunsden believes that like all other interventions, dental care should be just as important for children with ASD as learning the skill of talking and walking. According to Brunsden:

“It allows us to train a child to their highest potential.”

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Chief Executive Dr. John Rutkauskas said that an increasing number of their members have grown more interested in learning the skills needed to treat patients with autism.

 

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Healthy Teeth for Life: 10 Tips for Families

You have so many good reasons to keep your family’s teeth and gums healthy. Their sparkling smiles. Being able to chew for good nutrition. Avoiding toothaches and discomfort. And new research suggests that gum disease can lead to other problems in the body, including increased risk of heart disease.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to keep teeth strong and healthy from childhood to old age. Here’s how:

1. Start children early. Despite great strides in decay prevention, one in four young children develops signs of tooth decay before they start school. Half of all children between the ages of 12 and 15 have cavities. “Dental care should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth appears, usually around six months,” Caryn Solie, RDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, tells WebMD. “Teeth can be wiped with a clean, damp cloth or a very soft brush. At about age 2, you can let kids try brushing for themselves — although it’s important to supervise.”

2. Seal off trouble. Permanent molars come in around age 6. Thin protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth can prevent decay in the pits and fissures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sealants can significantly reduce caries. Yet only one in three U.S. kids receives dental sealants. Talk to your dental professional.

3. Use enough — but not too much — fluoride. The single biggest advance in oral health has been fluoride, which strengthens enamel, making it less likely to decay. Three out of four Americans drink water that is fluoridated. If your water isn’t fluoridated, talk to your dental professional, who may suggest putting a fluoride application on your teeth. Many toothpastes and mouth rinses also contain fluoride. Fluoride should be used sparingly in young children — no more than a pea-sized dab on the toothbrush. Too much can cause white spots on teeth.

4. Brush twice a day and floss daily. Gum disease and tooth decay remain big problems — and not just for older people. Three-fourths of teenagers have gums that bleed, according to the ADHA. Along with the basic advice, remember:

> Toothbrushes should be changed 3 to 4 times a year.
> Teenagers with braces may need to use special toothbrushes and other oral hygiene tools to brush their teeth. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist.
> Older people with arthritis or other problems may have trouble holding a toothbrush or using floss. Some people find it easier to use an electric toothbrush. Others simply put a bicycle grip or foam tube over the handle of a regular toothbrush to make it easier to hold.

5. Rinse or chew gum after meals. In addition to brushing and flossing, rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial rinse can help prevent decay and gum problems. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can also protect by increasing saliva flow, which naturally washes bacteria away and neutralizes acid.

6. Block blows to teeth. Sports and recreational activities build healthy bodies, but they can pose a threat to teeth. Most school teams now require children to wear mouth guards. But remember: unsupervised recreational activities like skate-boarding and roller-blading can also result in injuries. Your dentist can make a custom-fitted mouth guard. Another option: buy a mouth guard at a sporting goods store that can be softened using hot water to form fit your mouth.

7. Don’t smoke or use smokeless tobacco. Tobacco stains teeth and significantly increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. If you smoke or use chewing tobacco, consider quitting. Counsel your kids not to start.

8. Eat smart. At every age, a healthy diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. A well-balanced diet of whole foods — including grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products — will provide all the nutrients you need. Some researchers believe that omega-3 fats, the kind found in fish, may also reduce inflammation, thereby lowering risk of gum disease, says Anthony M. Iacopino, DMD, PhD, dean of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry.

9. Avoid sugary foods. When bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars, they produce acids that can erode tooth enamel, opening the door to decay. “Sugary drinks, including soft drinks and fruit drinks, pose a special threat because people tend to sip them, raising acid levels over a long period of time,” says Steven E. Schonfeld, DDS, PhD, a dentist in private practice and spokesperson for the American Dental Association. “Carbonated drinks may make matters worse, since carbonation also increases acidity.” Sticky candies are another culprit, because they linger on teeth surfaces.

10. Make an appointment. Most experts recommend a dental check-up every 6 months — more often if you have problems like gum disease. During a routine exam, your dentist or dental hygienist removes plaque build-up that you can’t brush or floss away and look for signs of decay. A regular dental exam also spots:

  • Early signs of oral cancer. Nine out of 10 cases of oral cancer can be treated if found early enough. Undetected, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become harder to treat.
  • Wear and tear from tooth grinding. Called bruxism, teeth grinding may be caused by stress or anxiety. Over time, it can wear down the biting surfaces of teeth, making them more susceptible to decay. If your teeth show signs of bruxism, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard worn at night to prevent grinding.
  • Signs of gum disease. Gum disease, also called gingivitis or periodontitis, is the leading cause of tooth loss in older people. “Unfortunately, by the time most people notice any of the warning signs of periodontitis, it’s too late to reverse the damage,” says Sam Low, DDS, professor of periodontology at the University of Florida and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. Periodically, your dental professional should examine your gums for signs of trouble.
  • Interactions with medications. Older patients, especially those on multiple medications, are at risk of dry mouth, or xerostomia. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of decay and gum problems. As many as 800 different drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect, says Iacopino, dean of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry. “Always tell your dental professional about any medications you take,” he says. A change in prescriptions may help alleviate the problem. Saliva-like oral mouthwashes are also available.

“Almost all tooth decay and most gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene,” says Solie. “We’re talking about taking a few minutes each day to brush and floss. That’s not a lot in return for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.”

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Just say no to using tobacco

 

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Did you know tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States?

Even though nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco — and is even more addictive than heroin and cocaine — it is possible to quit using tobacco.

Here are the best reasons to quit tobacco use:

Health benefits — Heart health, blood pressure, risk of cancer and lung capacity all can improve after a user quits.

Protect friends and family — Secondhand smoke increases risk of heart attacks, ear infections, premature birth, low birth weights and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Save money — The average pack of cigarettes is approximately $5 per pack. So a pack-a-day smoker spends more than $1,800 a year on cigarettes.

Here are different strategies that can be used to help quit tobacco use:

Increase physical activity and eat healthy — Increasing physical activity will not only improve your health, but will also keep off pounds. Eating healthy snacks will satisfy the oral fixation of tobacco use.

Create a support system — Find a buddy or group of people who are also trying to quit. Talking with others along the way will help in fighting off cravings.

– See more at: http://www.chieftain.com/life/3030280-120/health-tobacco-tips-quit#sthash.AA4Bfz0H.dpuf