Effectiveness of Dental Sealants for Children’s Oral Health

smile-191626_640Dental sealants are proven to significantly reduce tooth decay in young children. Among U.S. children, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease. And unfortunately, dental care for children is one of the nation’s greatest unmet health needs.

Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are placed over the chewing surfaces of teeth, most commonly molars, to prevent decay. To decide if this is the best course, dentists or dental hygienists will examine children’s teeth and apply sealants as needed. This procedure is especially effective for children from low-income families, who face a higher risk of tooth decay and are less likely to see a dentist than their more well-to-do peers. Dental sealants are a cost-effective path toward decreasing dental health disparities among children from different socio-economic, racial, and ethnic groups.

Applying sealants does not require drilling or removing tooth structure. The process is short and easy. After the tooth is cleaned, a special gel is placed on the chewing surface for a few seconds. The tooth is then washed off and dried. Then, the sealant is painted on the tooth. The dentist or dental hygienist also may shine a light on the tooth to help harden the sealant. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield.

Children who received sealants typically had half as much dental disease after four years as those who did not.

At West Maple Dental Services, dental sealants are a preventative measure that are recommended for all of our patients when their permanent six-year and twelve-year molars begin erupting.

Philadelphia’s Soda Tax is a Win for Kids!

Earlier this week, Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to pass a sugary drink tax. This is a win when it comes to kids’ dental health. Big Soda companies spent millions of dollars attempting to defeat Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposal.

The City Council approved a budget that included a 1.5-cents per ounce tax on sugary drinks. The added income will fund Philly’s citywide Pre-K, community schools, parks, libraries, and rec centers.

Reducing consumption of sugary drinks can lead to lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. Not to mention the impact of soda on a child’s teeth!

Consuming soft drinks can have a negative effect on your child’s dental health. The American Dental Association explains that excess sugar intake, especially in sugared soft drinks, can damage the enamel on teeth. Bacteria feed off of sugar and form plaque on teeth. This can eventually lead to excess plaque buildup and cavities. If your child doesn’t brush his teeth after a sugary drink, cavities can form, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

This movement prioritizes heart-healthy families over beverage industry profits, and encourages people to rethink their drink. It empowers citizens to work together for positive changes for their health and for their communities, even in the face of tough opponents.

Philadelphia joins the city of Berkeley, California, in enacting an added tax on sugary beverages. With this victory, it will be interesting to see how many other communities will introduce measures to benefit their city’s overall health.

Keeping your teeth & gums healthy

According to the American Medical Association, your oral health is directly affiliated to your general health so to a degree, keeping your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy will prevent any unwarranted problems later down the road. The structure of a tooth is important. And your knowledge of it will be helpful in understanding how to properly and effectively maintain good hygiene.

Your teeth not only start the digestive process by helping you bite and chew food, they also give shape to your face and play an important part in speech. The pulp that makes up the center of each tooth contains blood vessels that nurture the tooth, along with nerves that sense heat, cold, pressure, and pain. A tough, durable substance called dentin surrounds the pulp, and a hard material called enamel covers the dentin. Although tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, acids formed during the breakdown of simple carbohydrates such as sugar in food can erode the enamel and cause tooth decay. When your enamel wears down, your teeth may become discolored, the edges of your front teeth may look transparent and in later stages, you may feel extreme dental sensitivity when consuming hot or cold foods and fluids. Failing to brush and floss your teeth every day promotes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease, which can cause pockets to form between the gums and teeth, where infectious material can collect. Left untreated, gum disease ultimately leads to tooth loss.

Not taking proper care of your mouth can lead to many dental problems: bad breath, gum disease, cavities, sensitivity and even tooth loss. Playing a vital role in keeping up with oral hygiene can ward off all these scary things. Here are some hopefully helpful tips that will allow you to respond to the care of your mouth before it’s too late.

A healthy lifestyle makes a healthy smile. Regular exercise and a healthy diet decrease the chances of gum disease; which goes beyond the mouth and may raise the risk for heart disease and stroke. A poor diet filled with sugary foods and liquids can lead to cavities. Reduce the incidence of tooth decay by practicing good oral hygiene and by cutting back on sweets, avoid snacking between meals, and eat a healthy diet. Snacking on candy and other sugary foods or refined carbs (such as cookies) between meals harm your teeth because the bacteria in the mouth that break down such foods produce acid that can dissolve tooth enamel. Don’t give your kids fruit roll-ups or gummy candy that sticks to the teeth. If you want a better alternative to giving your child candy, make sure it is sugar-free gum or small amounts of chocolate (since chocolate quickly dissolves in the mouth).

Good oral hygiene takes time. It is a gradual process. Positive changes in your routine don’t have to be big- start small. Brush your teeth for about two to three minutes, twice a day, about the length of your favorite song. Squeeze some toothpaste onto your brush, place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle toward the gum line, and gently move the brush back and forth. A helpful tip about your toothbrush: use only a soft bristled brush to prevent damage to your gums that could cause them to recede. (A harder brush doesn’t necessarily mean it will scrape off the tartar.) Use interdental tools such as floss and mouthwash. Flossing once daily before bedtime (even before you brush). Using dental floss helps to remove plaque buildup and dislodge food particles from between the teeth.

Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning.

Well versed in oral hygiene

We should all be mindful of our health. And within certain boundaries we are. For instance, our diets. We spend countless hours worrying about how we look and in what physical condition we are in. But, with our physical health comes our oral health. It is a horrible mistake to blow it off as if it doesn’t matter as much as what our ideal body image does. Where lies the insecurity of an unhealthy mouth? If statistics about your health affect the way you perceive yourself and in turn gives you a goal to work towards, here are some dental statistics that will affect the way you handle your oral hygiene, and hopefully pull you towards a better understanding of the importance and safety of your oral well-being.

The anatomy of the mouth incorporates not just your teeth and gums. Your mouth also embodies tissues, palates, the mucosal lining of the mouth, your tongue, lips, salivary glands etc… keeping up-to-date with the oral health of your mouth is serious. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that without professional dental prevention or treatment, advanced tooth decay can occur in children by age three. The foundation for good oral health starts at a young age.

Reports from the Surgeon General have directed our attention to early childhood caries. Caries have increased and the disease remains roughly untreated among children by the preschool age. Children have unique needs in the area of oral welfare. If we are talking statistics, 16.2 % of children between the ages of 6-19 have untreated cavities. Did you know that among that age group, 40 % have tooth decay by kindergarden?
The number of children who are susceptible to being exposed for cavities are significant. Children with special needs, children of mothers with a high rate of tooth decay, children with plaque and demineralization and/or staining, children with a bottle or who breastfeed throughout the night, children from families of low socioeconomic class are especially liable or subject to some influence of cavities.

Oral hygiene entails keeping the mouth clean by regularly brushing teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash. And without the essential cleanliness of a regular regimen or being seen by a dentist your mouth will be exposed to bacteria. Bacteria produces acid that destroys the tooth’s enamel and the dentin (the layer under the enamel). And if ignorance is bliss-not knowing what really goes on in the mouth makes it super easy to blow off an important health factor. The thing to see here is the long lasting and negative impact on the overall health of someone who does not keep up with their oral “shape”.