Make Dental Care Fun Again with Time to Brush

toothbrush-571741_1920Dental hygiene has consistently been a problem for young, sugar-loving children. To make matters worse, they are usually opposed to tooth brushing. Here to help is Time To Brush.

In America, there is an epidemic of dental hygiene plaguing an unsettling number of children. In fact, the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation reported that over forty percent of children have dental cavities before they even reach kindergarten. To make matters worse, around one in every five children do not have the dental care they need to treat these occurrences. With the prevalence of this issue, it is vital that everyone, especially developing children consistently brushes their teeth. This is where Time To Brush fills its niche. The multi-functional toothbrush holder puts a new and modern spin on the traditional two minute timer, allowing young ones to actually enjoy taking care of themselves.

The Time To Brush itself features a small screen guiding children through the process of brushing their teeth. The screen is dim enough to not hurt their eyes late at night, making it perfect for low-light evenings and mornings. Users are shown the correct toothbrushing techniques by a lively and hygienic duo: Bobby Brush and Fiona Floss. As children brush their teeth in front of the Time To Brush holder, the screen displays exactly which areas they should be brushing and for how long. Best of all, the animation lasts two minutes, ensuring that children get the recommended level of tooth care. In this way, users can look forward to their nightly routine without worrying whether or not they are ‘doing it right’.

Apart from the electronic display, the Time To Brush system works as a toothbrush holder. There are six toothbrush slots, four for traditional and thin brushes and two for thicker, electronic toothbrushes. As a side benefit, there are two floss holders as well as a toothpaste compartment, storing all the tools necessary for a healthy nightly routine. Unfortunately, a product of this quality requires massive funding for its first round of production. To remedy this issue, the Time To Brush team has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Donors will receive anything from Bobby Brush stickers to a first edition Time To Brush toothbrush holder. With the support of readers, toothbrushing does not have to be like pulling teeth; instead, it will be a process children actually enjoy.

To learn more visit the Kickstarter campaign page.

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.

Healthy Teeth Affect Your Child’s Future.

apple-1370924_1920Our children are our future. Everyone has heard that saying. But think of it in these terms – our country’s economy, educational system, and culture is contingent upon the health and well-being of our children. Not only that, but our our actions to support them define that future too.

We have only just begun to focus on oral healthcare in a manner appropriate for something that dictates the outcome of our children’s health and happiness.

High-quality dental care affects so much more than your child’s smile. Healthy teeth can promote a confident attitude. Children who suffer from tooth pain and decay are more likely to have lower grades, miss school, and suffer in areas like eating, sleeping, and speaking.

Preventative dental care is important for a child’s success in school and in life.

This isn’t just about ensuring our children have healthy, strong teeth and pretty smiles. It will give them a confidence boost, sure. But the vast majority of dental disease is preventable.

All children deserve access to the complete range of care they need to live healthy, productive lives. Oral health is a strong predictor of overall health. It is important that parents give their children access to quality, preventive dental care.

Helping Your Child Feel Comfortable at the Dentist

dentist-1437430_1920Both children and adults should be visiting the dentist for an exam and a cleaning every 6 months. The problem is, many children don’t make their first visit until after the age recommended by dentists.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1. Unfortunately, a survey by Delta Dental Plans shows that the average age of a child’s first dental visit is 2.6 years.

If you are worried about how your child will respond at their first dental visit, you can take the following steps to make them feel more comfortable and ensure that the visit goes smoothly.

  1. Children learn by example, so be a positive role model. Be diligent about dental care, and your child is more likely to embrace oral hygiene.
  2. Take your child to the dentist when his or her first tooth erupts. This will help your child get used to going to the dentist. It will also help prevent problems that could get worse over time.
  3. Play dentist and read children’s books that describe dental visits. The extra information will help alleviate your child’s fears.
  4. Be supportive and instill trust in your child, but avoid telling him or her that everything will be ok. If a procedure is necessary, telling your child it will be ok could affect the trust he or she has in you. It will also make the dental office an even greater source of anxiety. Instead, offer a hand to squeeze or a hug.
  5. Use positive phrases like “clean, strong, healthy teeth” to make the visit seem upbeat rather than scary.

Using these techniques will make your child’s dental visits more pleasant for everyone and will pave the way for a lifetime of good oral health.

Are you brushing your toddler’s teeth?

family-1254495_1280Brushing your toddler’s teeth can be a bit traumatic. Screaming, crying, hitting… brushing a 2-year-old’s teeth is quite an endeavor. Many parents may ask, “Is this really worth it? Baby teeth are just, like, temporary teeth, right?”

Caring for your child’s baby teeth isn’t optional—it’s essential. Equally as important is taking kids to the dentist at a very young age.

Numbers of cavities among kids have been going down in general, but cavities in baby teeth have become more common over the past 20 years. Today, a whopping 60 percent of 5-year-olds have had at least one cavity before kindergarten. Dental decay is the leading childhood disease! Cavities in baby teeth can also harm the permanent teeth directly, if the tissue in the central portion of the baby tooth gets infected.

If your child’s dentist sees a cavity forming, they can actually reverse the process—which is in part why the organization recommends that parents bring their children to the dentist when they get their first tooth or by the time they turn 1, at the latest.

Pediatric dentists can reverse burgeoning cavities is by applying a fluoride varnish to kids’ teeth, which causes fluoride to be released when the pH of the tooth drops as a result of the acid. The fluoride then helps rebuild the tooth enamel. Fluoride from drinking water and toothpaste can also get incorporated into the tooth enamel itself as it grows, thereby protecting it from future decay.

Pediatric dentists do more than just deal with cavities in young toddlers; they can determine whether kids are doing things that might put them at risk for future cavities. The dentist can also check kids for signs of bigger dental or jaw problems.

Infant visits also give dentists the chance to educate parents on what to expect during teething and how best to care for kids’ teeth. Other important advice you might not have heard: brush your kid’s teeth for them at least once a day until they turn 8 or 9 because the fine motor skills that make for good brushing don’t really develop until about that age. Start flossing when your child’s teeth no longer have space between them, because then the toothbrush isn’t able to reach plaque and debris between the teeth.

Break the Habits

Thumb sucking and nail biting have it’s pro’s and con’s. The only positive side-effect of this particular habit is the exposure to healthy germs. At an early-life stage we reprimand our kids when we see them biting their nails, or sucking their thumb. But researchers have found that exposure to microbial organisms actually reduce the risk of  developing allergies, asthma, and hay fever by teaching the immune system not to overreact. An article that USA Today published back in July of this year, admitted to this hypothesis by stating “At age 13, 38% of children who frequently sucked their thumb or bit their nails had an allergy, compared to 49% of those who didn’t. The study followed up with the children as adults, reporting similar results at age 32.”

To read more on the research pediatrics have concluded click herethumb

Beyond the toddler years, the downside of thumb sucking and nail biting are the following:

  • Depending on the intensity and the duration, these habits interfere with the proper growth of the mouth, shape, and palate, even the shape of their face!
  • Nail biting causes un-natural wear to the enamel.
  • It could also shift the teeth.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises parents to consult with their pediatric dentist should the habit persist after the age of 3.


Prescriptions for Outdoor Activity

The Outdoor Foundation and ParkRx are organizations that promote and support outdoor activities for children.  In an era in which childhood obesity is affecting a third of the youth in this country, organizations that favor good habits for children have our support and endorsement.

soap-bubbles-322212_1920The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 foundation established by Outdoor Industry Association to inspire and grow future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Its vision is to be a driving force behind a massive increase in active outdoor recreation in America. You can learn more about them here.

ParkRx (Park Prescriptions) are programs designed in collaboration among public land agencies, healthcare providers, and community partners to encourage people to utilize parks, trails, and open space for the purpose of improving individual and community health. ParkRx programs give healthcare providers a new set of tools to inspire patients to take proactive steps to improve their health. Parks and public lands are free or low-cost resources in many communities and provide excellent areas to recreate and play. Additionally, parks provide patients with exposure to nature, which has been scientifically proven to improve mental, physical, and social health. Learn more about ParkRx by clicking here.

So why should children play outside? Here are just a few of the health benefits:

  • Builds Up their Immune System: when playing outside, children are exposed to dirt, animals, pests, bacteria and everything else that send modern-day parents running. While we like to think that dirt, animals, pests and bacteria do more harm than good it’s actually the opposite. When your children come into contact with these things in a natural way (outside) and on a regular basis, they are less likely to develop autoimmune disorders and allergies.
  • Provides Exercise: Playing outside provides children with something many children don’t get enough of anymore – exercise. Exercising while having fun is the best kind of exercise, and that’s exactly what playing outside does.
  • Stimulates the Imagination: Sadly, one of the things that today’s children are lacking is an imagination. This is because we’re in the technological age – today children are literally shown everything. Why go outside and play cops and robbers when we can watch a movie about it or play a video game? Playing outside helps children develop their imagination.
  • Promotes Problem Solving Skills: Children who play outside learn how to solve real life problems better than children who are always in their rooms playing video games or secluding themselves.
  • Provides Vitamin D: It’s important that your children get Vitamin D, which is provided by the sun. Vitamin D helps promote better moods, energy levels, memory, overall health and more.

Keep Kids’ Teeth Healthy in the Summer

watermelon-846357_1280Don’t take a break from dental health this summer!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay affects children in the U.S. more than any other chronic, infectious disease.

Children are especially prone to cavities and tooth decay, which can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and even learning.

To combat tooth decay and keep kids’ teeth healthy all summer long, here are some suggestions for families:

  1. Plan healthy breakfasts. Schedules ease up in the summer with kids getting up later in the morning and tending to their own breakfasts. Make sure there is fresh seasonal fruit available for kids to choose over sugary cereals. Hard boiled eggs make a great snack and good source of protein without the sugars so many breakfast meals contain.
  2. Watch the soda intake. Hot summer months and enticing soda commercials can trigger a campaign by kids to get you to bring home the cola. Try to resist and encourage ice water with a lemon slice or other infused fruit to sweeten the deal. Soda is the worst nightmare for your child’s dental health. Do your best to keep it out of the house.
  3. Going on a trip? Pack healthy snacks and drinks. Whether you are going on a day trip to the pool or a longer vacation, it can be difficult to find healthy food options on the go. Vending machines, the ice cream man and the food hut rarely offer non-greasy foods or low-sugar snacks that are good for the body and teeth. Bring the good stuff with you. Fresh strawberries can satisfy the sweet cravings and while there is natural sugar in those as well – you are better off with a berry over a snow cone.
  4. Brush, brush, brush. Summer nights may also come with later bed times. Active days outside in the sun tire us all out and parents need to make sure their sleepy heads tend to their teeth before drifting off at night. Make sure your kids brush after dinner. If they have a snack before bedtime, the last thing in their mouths should be their tooth brushes. Sugar has a field day overnight in a mouth and it’s important for kids to brush and rinse out the day’s meals and snacks before hitting the pillow.
  5. Practice the 3-2-1 rule. Eat 3 healthy meals, brush 2 times and floss 1 time every day.
  6. Schedule a dental checkup. Take advantage of this time when your child won’t have to miss school to get that necessary dental check-up. During your child’s summer check-up, the dental team will likely perform a cleaning, check for any cavities or other oral health problems, and take the opportunity to reinforce the importance of good brushing and flossing habits. Children should get a dental checkup every six months.