Bedtime Use of Media Devices Doubles Risk of Poor Sleep in Children

shutterstock_336928517A Cardiff University study has found that children using screen-based media devices at bedtime have over double the risk of inadequate sleep duration compared to children without access to such a device.

The study, which comprised a systematic review of 20 existing observational studies, involving 125,198 children, also found that sleep quality and day-time sleepiness were affected to a similar magnitude.

“Our study is the first to consolidate results across existing research and provides further proof of the detrimental effect of media devices on both sleep duration and quality,” said Ben Carter from Cardiff University School of Medicine.

“Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of children’s development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems. With the ever growing popularity of portable media devices, such as smartphones and tablets, the problem of poor sleep amongst children is set to get worse. Our findings suggest that an integrated approach involving parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals is necessary to improve sleep habits near bedtime.”

Currently 72 percent of children and 89 percent of adolescents have at least one device in their sleeping environment and most are used near bedtime. Such devices are thought to adversely impact sleep through a variety of ways including displacing, delaying or interrupting sleep time; psychologically stimulating the brain; and affecting circadian timing, sleep physiology and alertness.

Sleep disturbance in childhood is known to lead to adverse physical and mental health consequences. Short and long term detrimental health outcomes include poor diet, sedative behavior, obesity, reduced immunity, stunted growth and mental health issues.

The results of the study, “Association between portable screen-based media device access or use and sleep outcomes” are reported in JAMA Pediatrics (Carter B, et al, 2016).

Alternatives to Halloween Candy

Trick-or-treating, school halloween parties, even just the extra bag of you bought for rewards. The extra treats kids are enjoying throughout October can really take a toll on their teeth.


Throughout the month, there are $9 billion spent on candy and sweets. Not only is there a lot of money being spent, there will be roughly 41 million trick-or-treaters out. There are some things that parents should remember when choosing candy and treats for their children:

  1. There are better treats, and there are bad treats. Dental friendly types of treats include chocolate. It melts away pretty quickly and doesn’t stay on teeth as long.
  2. Think of non-food items – glow sticks, small trinkets, or even a toothbrush!
  3. Bad treats stick to your child’s teeth. Dark chocolate and sugar-free gum are better than gummies or bubble gum.
  4. Sour candies are especially bad. Not only do they have sugars, but they also have acidic properties. Both those things are terrible for teeth!
  5. “Healthy” treats aren’t always better. For example, a granola bar has honey in it – another sticky substance that takes extra scrubbing to remove from teeth.
  6. Brush teeth after eating any candy. And if you find “bad candies” in your kids Halloween haul, think about taking it to the nursing home or someplace like that.

As always, we encourage our patients to enjoy the holiday without over-indulging or having a dental issue later on. Be safe, wear reflective clothing, and have fun!


The Effects of Sugar Guidelines on Teeth

sugar-1514247_1280The American Heart Associating recently released new, easier to follow guidelines to help Americans limit their sugar intake. American citizens have a serious sugar addiction. In fact, the average American eats over 130 pounds of sugar each year. Children eat an average of 20 teaspoons (80 grams) of sugar daily! Now, the new guidelines state children ages 2-18 should consume no more than 25 grams – or 6 teaspoons – daily. Children under two should not have any added sugar in their diet.

Our office is constantly talking to patients and their parents about what sugar can do to teeth. Unfortunately, sometimes we are too late and children come in for their first visit (at 1 to 2 years old) with multiple cavities. A child’s first dentist visit should be before their first birthday, or when the first tooth starts to come in. Tooth decay is the leading childhood illness.

Our teeth are a reflection of our overall health. It’s difficult to examine you blood vessels or liver, but you can look in the mirror and examine your teeth! If your teeth aren’t healthy, there’s a good chance the rest of your body is unhealthy, too. Filling and dental sealants are a short-term fix for a larger issue. Sure they take care of the problem, but a better solution is to examine diet and make healthier choices.

It’s been known for years that “low-fat” diets aren’t the healthiest. Instead, recent studies have shown that a “low-sugar” diet is more beneficial and critical for overall health. Low-fat diets were once very popular. Manufacturers removed fat from their food, but added sugar and salt to make it taste better. These moves caused rates of obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease to grow exponentially, especially in children.

The added sugar sneaks into our diet through processed foods and sugary drinks. Be careful with feeding your children sugary cereals and breakfast bars. Check the sugar content of yogurt or other dairy products. Avoid packing cookies, chocolate milk, fruit juices, and even ketchup (which contains a surprising amount of sugar) in your child’s lunch. Organic, “no sugar added” apple juice contains a huge amount of natural sugar.¬†For example, 12 ounces of apple juice has more added sugar than almost every 12 ounce soft drink. Sodas contain around 40 grams (ten teaspoons) of sugar for every 12 ounces. By drinking one soft drink, your child is already over their sugar limit for the day. Water is your best friend for your dental and overall health.