Falling For It

Children are fearless adventurers, brave explorers, and sometimes, clumsy little goofballs! Their curiosity will take them far, and it’s our jobs to make sure they get there intact! But what happens when your wandering wonder takes a pretty serious tumble?

There’s a reason they call the upcoming season “fall”, and parents are going to be seeing more and more falls in the next few months! Whether it’s investigating monkey bars at school, conquering the treetops, or practicing a new jump at dance class, Autumn is a season for taking a trip… literally, and West Maple Pediatric Dentistry wants to make sure your child is able to get back on their feet and smile at the world!

Kids Will Fall For Anything!

Among some of the common reasons we see an increase in broken teeth in the fall:

  • More children riding their bikes to, from, and after school
  • Increased high-impact activities
  • Engagement in sports without the use of a proper mouth guard, or a properly fit mouthguard
  • Chewing and gnawing on pencils during class
  • Snacking at school on hard candies, lollipops, and other hard, high-sugar foods
  • Increased stress often leads to grinding teeth and clenching the jaw, often even while asleep

How Bad Can It Be?

What we can do about broken, chipped, or injured teeth depends greatly on the severity of the injury, and how soon you’re able to bring your child in! When we get a call about a “broken” tooth, that could mean a number of things! Some common injuries we often see include:

Chipped Tooth: Caused by impact or trauma, chipped teeth can be both painful and unsightly. There are different treatment options available depending on both the severity of the chip, and whether it is in a baby tooth, or a permanent tooth. Your dentist will recommend bonding, veneers, a root canal (this sounds scary, but the procedure is very much like having a cavity filled, it only takes a bit longer!) or a dental implant, for a truly severe case.

Knocked Loose or Lost Tooth: You may believe that once a tooth has been knocked out, it’s a lost cause. Maybe not! Throw the tooth into a cup of milk and make an emergency appointment. We may be able to repair the tooth if we work quickly! A prematurely lost baby tooth only needs to be addressed if the adult tooth is nowhere near eruption. A spacer will need to be placed to ensure the new tooth has plenty of room when it’s ready.

Craze lines: Small, superficial lines or cracks in the enamel. These are shallow, and don’t cause any pain or harm, and are very common in adults. Often, these lines don’t require any treatment at all, and can even add character to a smile! However, if your child develops insecurities about them, or if they become prone to staining or susceptible to cracking, dental bonding or porcelain laminate will smooth out that smile!

Fractured cusp: This often occurs while chewing when a piece of the chewing surface breaks off. This usually causes no pain but should be addressed. Make an appointment to determine how much of the tooth was lost, and if your child is at risk of losing more due to weakened teeth. It’s very possible that it was a one-time incident, and your child may need nothing more than a sealant treatment to protect the newly exposed part of the tooth’s structure!

 Cracked tooth: A crack usually occurs on the surface of the tooth, extending toward the root. Addressing this early is key to saving the tooth and avoiding pain and substantial damage. A crack will not heal on its own and will rapidly deteriorate. This is worth a call to your dentist to be seen as soon as possible.

Split: Often the second stage of a cracked tooth, a tooth will split from tip toward the root. When the split reaches the root, the tooth can no longer be saved intact.

Vertical root fracture: Originating at the root of the tooth, and extending toward the surface, these cracks often go undetected until the surrounding gums and bone become infected.  Treatment is needed as soon as the issue is identified, and root filling will be required.

A Pound of Prevention

If we can anticipate a few of these issues and put preventative measures in place, it can save you and your family a lot of pain, frustration, and money! We are more than happy to help fit your child with a protective sports mouthguard, a nightguard for sleeping, and sealants and fluoride treatments to keep those teeth strong!

And if you are worried about your child’s smile, make an appointment today. Our team is happy to take the time to talk through your concerns and come up with a plan that suits your family

Get the Best Tools to Head Back to School!

How do you help your child return to class confident and ready for their most successful year yet? West Maple Pediatric Dentistry is proud to be on your child’s team, and we have a few ideas to help your child make the grade this fall!

With the school year fast approaching, you’ve likely already ordered your child’s school supplies, a whole new wardrobe, the perfect lunchbox, and arranged the car pool.

Have you scheduled your child’s dental exam? Many schools require a signed record of care within 5 months of entering kindergarten and 7th grade. Poor dental health can cost children some of their education. A 2012 study* determined that just over 1/3 of missed school days in elementary school were due to tooth pain or oral health problems. These were only the cases they could link directly. The result of these missed days were academic penalties and an overall lower GPA than students who didn’t report oral health issues.

In fact, children who reported frequent tooth aches were four times as likely to have lower than average GPAs. The study showed that it was more than just a nagging issue. Chronic tooth aches can cause or contribute to a number of other problems including:

  • Difficulty Eating and Sleeping
  • Trouble Focusing
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Foul Breath
  • Insecurity and Self-Consciousness

Children who have otherwise shown great aptitude are suddenly struggling in class, and they often have trouble identifying where the disconnect lies. When a child is in constant pain, they eventually stop noticing where it comes from and it can come off as agitation, impatience, and be recorded as a behavior issue and written off.

We don’t believe any child should be written off or denied their own potential! If your little one’s grades suddenly begin to suffer, bring them by for an exam. Most insurance covers our services, and we offer financing and accept Care Credit for whatever portion your insurance doesn’t cover!

If it’s not a toothache holding them back, what could it be?

Vision

It’s possible that your child isn’t keeping up as well because they struggle to see the front of the room. A visit with an optometrist can identify the need for corrective lenses and get your child back on track!
Hunger

Growing children and active teens burn through calories significantly faster than adults. We joke about hangry toddlers and how their attitude suffers when they miss snack time, but it doesn’t become less true just because they aren’t home. Breakfast being “big” isn’t actually enough to counter your child’s hunger and resulting lack of focus. They need long-acting carbs and healthy fats to keep them satisfied through a long school day. Try foods like baked sweet potatoes, avocado, and bacon at breakfast to keep them full and focused, and almonds, apples, and jerky to snack on through the day to keep them satisfied and energized!

If you have ideas for healthy, fun, energizing lunch boxes, we would love to share them with our other readers! Share them to our page, tag us on Facebook, or email us your lunch box photos and ideas so we can share them with other families!

Dehydration

Believe it or not, in our abundant country, as many as 80% of people are under-hydrated. This leads to fatigue, brain fog, and irritability. Keeping a water bottle full and handy can make it easier to stay hydrated all day when running to the water fountain is often not an option. If your child struggles to get their 8-10 cups a day, try adding healthy flavors to their bottle with cucumber slices, crushed mint leaves, or frozen berries and grapes.

Bullying

If your child is being treated poorly by their peers, their entire school experience will suffer, including their grades. Talk with administrators and counselors about getting your child the tools they need to counter harassment, and to address it with adults before it becomes a real problem.

Exhaustion

If the grueling course load, long hours, and extra curriculars aren’t enough of a burden on students, part time jobs, homework, hobbies, and a social life are more than enough to put any child over the top. Add the allure of social media well into the early morning hours and it’s unlikely that your student is getting enough sleep.

Try setting limits on hours for social media, and even homework. Of course, kids can get sneaky, and you don’t want to feel like a nag, but it’s important that they know their best interests are still on your mind!

We know that you have a million things to worry about, and kids don’t come with a handbook. There is no way to do it “right”, even though it sometimes feels like there are a million ways to do it wrong. We just want to take a moment to tell you that you’re doing an amazing job! Thank you for letting West Maple Pediatric Dentistry be part of your amazing team!

 

*University of Southern California. “Poor oral health can mean missed school, lower grades.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2012.

West Maple Has the Recipe for Your Best Summer Yet!

There are a thousand reasons to smile this summer, and West Maple wants to give you a few more!

Many summer treats can be a bit hard on the teeth. Ice cream, popsicles, and sodas are packed with sugars, unnatural dyes, and artificial flavors. These potentially hurt not only your child’s teeth, but lead to sugar crashes, sluggishness, and can be a factor in children acting out of character.

You still want to be sweet to your children, and indulgent treats are fun once in a while! Now that summer is here, temptation is everywhere, but thankfully, so are seasonal fruits and vegetables that are easily transformed into sweet treats the whole family can get behind!

 

The Skinny on Lycopene

 

Lycopene is an antioxidant found in many red-skinned fruits and vegetables. Most doctors recommend increasing your daily dose, but why?
In addition to promoting healthy skin, hair, teeth and bones, lycopene aids in cell turn around and keeps your heart healthy! And as we’ve discussed before, a healthy heart and a healthy mouth go hand in hand!

So how do you get more lycopene in your diet? Easy, with a few fun recipes from West Maple!

Tomato and Feta Salad

Omaha is lucky to be right at the center of dozens of family farms! Whether you have a home garden, enjoy a trip to the Farmer’s Market, or simply pop by your local grocers, tomatoes are in season! It might get tricky finding new ways to introduce tomatoes to your family. From spaghetti sauce to blts, tomatoes are delicious and packed with vitamins! This summer salad is a fun and fresh take on the tomato!

Ingredients:
4-6 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
2 ounces of crumbled Feta
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 sprig of fresh mint, bruised and chopped
¼ tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Gently smash your crumbled feta with your salt, pepper, and garlic. Fold in your diced veggies, dress lightly with balsamic, and top with mint. Serves 6.

Fruit Popsicles

Whether you use fresh or frozen fruit, these popsicles will feel like a decadent treat to the whole family! This is an easy recipe your little ones can help you with, and it’s a great opportunity to show your children that healthy can be fun, and delicious!

Ingredients:
Fresh or Frozen Fruits including

  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Guava
  • Banana
  • Strawberries
  • PineappleYou’ll need a popsicle mold, which can be found at any dollar store and most grocery stores this time of year! Chop your fruit and let your little one add them to a blender, food processor, or smoothie maker. If your mixture is too thick, adding water is a better option than adding juice, which adds a lot of unneeded sugar! If you want a creamier popsicle, using plain or vanilla Greek yogurt or kefir will result in a fun, fruity creamsicle!

Moroccan Watermelon Salad

Watermelon is a perfect summer snack, all on its own! Sweet enough to consider a treat, it’s packed with vitamins and nutrients, and even helps hydrate in these hot summer months! With just a few touches, you can make this summer staple a perfect soiree side dish!

Ingredients
4-5 cups of seedless watermelon, cubed and chilled
one cucumber, seeded and diced
2 ripe avocados, cubed
¼ cup of sliced red onion
½ cup chopped mint
½ cup chopped parsley
Dressing
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
pinch of ground clove
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup toasted pistachio
½ cup of feta, optional

I personally suggest you chill your watermelon overnight. When the watermelon is very cold, the whole dish has a more fun texture and mouth-feel.
In your serving bowl, add cubed watermelon, cucumber, avocado, onion, mint, and parsley. In a separate container, mix olive oil, vinegar (balsamic or red wine), clove, salt and pepper. Once dressed, top your salad with pistachios and feta for a sweet, tangy, crunchy, and vitamin packed side dish your guests will never forget!

Let’s Talk Turmeric

Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric has been the star of dishes in many cultures since the dawn of the passed-down recipe. What you may not have guessed is that adding anti-inflammatory ingredients to your diet may help with the symptoms of the dreaded gingivitis. Many people have taken to ingesting turmeric capsules, but with a few delicious recipes you can reap all the benefits of this delicious ancient spice as it was meant to be enjoyed!

Roasted Red Pepper Curry

This recipe benefits from both Lycopene in it’s star ingredient, red bell peppers, anti-inflammatory from turmeric, and the most important feature: It’s so delicious you won’t have to fight your family to eat it!

Ingredients
6 red peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tsp Turmeric
1 cup Greek yogurt

Blister your red peppers under the broiler and place them in a bowl with a towel over them to rest. Once cooled, use the back of your knife to carefully remove the skins, which you will then discard. Remove seeds and place in a food processor or blender with your spice mix. Blend until the peppers are broken down, then add yogurt, continuing to blend until smooth. Pour over grilled chicken, pork, steak, or rice. For an extra kick, use 2 roasted jalapenos and ¼ tsp of cayenne.

We hope we were able to add some fun inspiration to your healthiest summer yet!

Making the Grade with West Maple

Spring truly is the season for growth, change, and health! While Omaha may have found itself with a rather chilly start to the season, spring will always come, however late! And with it, opportunities to start fresh, relearn, and grow together!

As the school year comes to a close, you and your child may be very preoccupied with the thought of finals, year end grades, and how this year’s report card will reflect on their future goals. While we don’t give out report cards, your child’s oral health will be tested in more ways than one!

From having a confident smile to avoiding expensive repairs, how much your child learns about taking care of their mouth will affect their health and confidence for the rest of their lives.

Today’s lesson is a short study in your child’s teeth! How they grow, how to keep them healthy, and why it matters!

Grow, Baby, Grow!

Did you know that children statistically grow measurably more in the spring than any other time of the year? Researchers have spent years narrowing down the causes for this accelerated growth, and it comes down to several factors

  • Increased sun exposure means higher levels of vitamin D, which create stronger, healthier bones
  • Warmer weather means more playing outdoors, and more high-impact activity, which can strengthen bones and increase muscles mass
  • Improved circulation from activities leads to higher energy levels, healthier skin, and improved focus
  • Increased activity leads to a more restful sleep, giving the body time to heal, grow, and regenerate

It’s important to anticipate these growth spurts for many reasons. If your child becomes particularly restless at night, it could very likely be caused by growing pains in the limbs. Soaking in a warm bath, gentle massage of the affected area, and increasing potassium intake (which can be as easy as eating a banana daily) can help ease the discomfort.

Getting Crowded in Here!

Another benefit to anticipating growth is the ability to use preventive orthodontics to help guide your child’s teeth properly into place. As the jaw and facial bones grow, they can alter your child’s bite, facial structure, and spacing. This can cause overcrowding, resulting in crooked teeth. If addressed early, it may be possible to avoid the need for more expensive and extensive corrections later!

While it seems that our mouth wouldn’t contain more or larger teeth than our mouths can safely accommodate, many problems like tongue thrusting, headaches, mouth and jaw pain, and unnecessary crowding can be caused by a lack of space in the mouth. Using jaw expanders is a gradual and safe way to create more room in your child’s mouth, helping avoid these painful issues!

Catching overcrowding before the loss of the final baby teeth is a great way to use interceptive orthodontics. Spacers and other temporary hardware can guide your child’s teeth into place, helping to avoid bite problems, and spacing issues.

Overcrowded teeth are far more difficult to keep properly clean and are more susceptible to decay and damage. If your child ultimately does need braces, we will refer you to a very trusted orthodontist, who cares as much about your child’s smile as we do!

Breaking Up

Interceptive Orthodontics may also be used if a sports injury, clumsiness, or decay have cost your little one a tooth before it was ready to go. Losing baby teeth doesn’t seem like a very big deal, but if it’s lost before the adult set is ready to take its place, the surrounding teeth will move into the space created, leaving little or no room for the new tooth to come through!

This can lead to odd spaces, crooked and crowded teeth, and painful orthodontic treatments later in life if not addressed early. A simple metal spacer can hold the place of the missing tooth until the new one takes its place!

We will teach you and your child to care for temporary hardware, how to clean it, and how to protect new teeth as them come through.

Summer Vacation Doesn’t Mean Taking a Break

As vacation time approaches, it may be a great time to revisit proper oral care! Leaving the house in the morning during the school year often feels like a fire drill, and by bedtime, your child may be too tired to do an effective job. Now in the no-stress summer, take the time to go over the basics again, reminding your child that there is always time to properly care for their mouth!
When your child is on summer break, you want to let them just enjoy their time off! Bedtimes often slip out from underneath you, and with them, the bedtime routine. As the late nights wear on, be sure to remind your child to take a break from their evening activities to spare 5 minutes for their teeth! While they may be on vacation, bacteria are still happy to work 24 hours a day!

Even if you’ve abandoned an official bedtime for the summer, try scheduling a time to limit snacking. At 9pm (Or your pre-determined cut off) put the snacks away and take a break from movies or games to brush and floss. It’s still important that your child gets plenty of rest, and keeping a firm window on snacking can encourage them to bed on their own a little earlier.

Higher Education

If you have an older child who is home from college this summer, try to get them in for a checkup! Between studies, work, tests, and trying to maintain a social life, making an appointment with the dentist has very likely fallen off of their radar!

Remind them that while their growth spurts have come to an end, nobody outgrows the need for proper dental care.
West Maple is proud to be on your team from teething, to growth spurts, to grown and gone. We are grateful that you’ve chosen to be part of our family, and to let us look after yours!

Our Oral Ecosystem

Last time we talked, we discussed Earth Day and cleaning up our habits. This month, we wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the nature of oral health!

Our mouths have their own delicate ecosystem, much like Mother Nature! And like Mother Nature, they are resilient, and have put in place systems to protect and heal themselves. But when outside factors come into play, we have to take extra steps to protect ourselves. For Nature, that means cleaning up litter, recycling, composting, reducing waste, and cutting our carbon footprint.

But what does that mean for our mouths?

Enemy of the State (of Our Mouths)

Our mouths are constantly cleaning themselves, creating healthy bacteria, and working to create tissue. Have you ever noticed that when you bite your cheek, tongue, or lip, it heals faster than most parts of your body? That’s because your mouth has created a perfect environment for regeneration.

So why do so many Americans suffer from poor oral health? There are a lot of factors, but the main threat to our mouth’s natural health system is one sweet word: Sugar.
Sugar inhibits our body’s natural responses to a lot of things, from insulin reactions, energy levels, and fat loss, to how our mouths are able to cope and heal. You may notice that just the thought of your favorite delectable sweet treat, your mouth begins to water. You think that excess saliva is your cue that you truly desire that food, but it’s actually your body initiating a defense against sugar.

Your mouth will instantly create more saliva in an attempt to wash away the sugar you’re only thinking about eating. That’s how much of a danger your own body sees sugar as.

Mouth Pollution

What we put into our mouths has an effect that lasts far longer than the flavor. Whether it’s energizing our body or feeding unhealthy bacteria and heart issues, it’s working long after we have satisfied the craving.

The culprits aren’t always the obvious bad-guys we suspect. Starchy foods are converted to sugars in our mouths and bodies. Our teeth recognize french fries and sandwiches almost the same as they recognize a candy bar! You knew a loaf of bread weighed heavy on the hips, but who knew the toll it took on the lips?

Even healthy foods can become the villain in our toothy tales. Cherries and blueberries are highly acidic and can stain and wear through enamel quickly. Strawberries are packed with sugar, and the seeds can easily lodge themselves, and the sugar they are coated in, between unsuspecting teeth and beneath the gum line.

Clean Up Your Act!

We would never suggest cutting healthy fruits out of your diet just because they contain sugar, and we wouldn’t even suggest taking candy out of special occasions! What’s life without a sweet indulgence now and then?

It is important to restore your mouth to a balanced state as soon as possible after acidic, sweet, or starchy treats. A thorough swish with water, making sure to dislodge any stuck food, can save your teeth hours of exposure!

Put That Brush Down!

It’s actually not recommended that you brush immediately after eating citrus. This might seem counterintuitive, as you want to remove acids from your teeth before they cause corrosion, but your teeth are in a weakened state after eating acidic foods.

When an artist is etching a design into glass, they first paint the surface with an acid, then scratch the design into the surface. The acid temporarily weakens the hard surface of the glass, allowing a gentle scratch to leave a permanent mark.

Acids have a similar effect on your teeth. They temporarily weaken the enamel and leave them vulnerable to damage.

The standard PH of your mouth is a level 7. A soft drink’s PH is about 2.5, nearly the same as vinegar, and will lower your mouth’s PH, leaving teeth weak. Brushing them in this state can damage the enamel of your teeth. Instead, rinse with water or chew sugar free gum after acidic foods or drinks, and then wait about 30-60 minutes before brushing. This gives your saliva time to return your mouth’s PH to safe levels!

What Counts as Acidic?

There is no need to fear or restrict these foods from your diet, but it is important to remain aware and take care after consuming them! The following is a brief list of foods and drinks that contain acids and can create a harmful environment for your mouth.

  • Fruit Juices
  • Citrus Fruits (Pineapples, Grapefruit, Lemons, Limes, Kiwi, Oranges, etc)
  • Salad Dressings, Especially Vinegar Based
  • Soda, Including Diet or Zero Calorie/Zero Sugar Soft Drinks
  • Coffee and Tea
  • Wine
  • Tomatoes and Tomato Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Honey
  • Energy Drinks (Even Sugar Free)
  • Sports Drinks, Including Low Calorie and Artificially Sweetened Versions

If you have noticed increased sensitivity, receding gums, or thinning enamel, a high-acid diet could be to blame! Always do your best to neutralize the acids as soon as possible, and always give your mouth a chance to do its job!

Oral Environmental Friendliness

You mouth says a lot about you, even when you aren’t speaking. Make sure it’s sending a healthy message. Fresh breath, a clean tongue, and strong teeth send signals with every smile.

A well maintained mouth works hard for you, day and night to stay healthy! Drinking plenty of water, brushing and flossing, and keeping your routine checkups on the calendar are all ways you can keep your mouth a healthy, happy place!

Spring Clean Your Routine!

West Maple Knows Your Smile Makes the World a Better Place, Now it Can Make it a Little Greener Place, Too!
There are a million reasons to look after our precious planet, and your smile is just one of them! Environmental issues affect every part of your life, and your oral health is no exception.

Today, let’s look at some ways our daily routine is affecting our environment, and what we might be able to do to be a little greener!
The Issue: Air and Water Pollution

Toxic air is nothing to smile about, and pollution is anything but great for your grin. Just the thought of chemicals, environmental toxins, and air pollution are enough to take the smile right off of your face, but they can have a more indirect impact on your oral health.

Contaminated water can quickly become a health concern, from drinking, to bathing, to brushing your teeth. Run off from factories can contaminate waterways and growing fields, and the energy used to clean the water causes issues of its own.
Do Your Part!

Ending waste is a fast way to cut back on both how much trash we’re adding to the environment, and how much energy, water, and environmental impact it takes to clean up and replace what we consume! Make shopping lists and only buy the food on the list. This easy step will cut back on food waste, which accounts for about 17% of the garbage in Omaha landfills.
Chop veggies and store them on low shelves in the fridge in glass jars for easy access to a healthy snack! Your kids are more likely to grab carrot sticks if they’re already cleaned and washed. Making a salad is fast and easy when the ingredients are washed and close at hand, and you’re less likely to forget them in your crisper if you’ve already taken the time to prepare them!

Compost what you can, feeding your home garden for richer, more nutrient-dense soil. Avoid buying individually wrapped foods, as they are a huge source of packing waste, and recycle whenever possible!

The Issue: Water Waste

Mother Nature does an impeccable job of cleaning the water we use naturally, but at the rate humans are currently consuming the supply, she simply can’t keep up! Water treatment plants are needed to provide access to safe water sources, but more chemicals and more energy are needed for this process.

We are incredibly lucky to live in a country with such an abundant water supply. Even in other well-developed nations, water shortages are becoming a very real threat. This year, the South African Port of Cape Town faces a true water crisis. It is anticipated that they will have run out of water before you have read these words. As far away as this sounds, this is only one extreme example. As close as Flint, Michigan, residents are faced with contaminated water supplies that have crippled much of the area. But it isn’t until the crisis occurs that we think to begin preservation efforts.

Do Your Part!

An ounce of preservation is worth a pound of water treatment! If you leave the water running while you brush your teeth, the average American faucet wastes two gallons per minute that the water is running! You use less than a quarter of a gallon if you only turn the water on while rinsing the brush.

Put a bucket in the shower to collect the water that runs while you wait for the water to warm up. Use this bucket to water house plants, flush the toilet, or scrub your floors! If you wait five minutes every morning before stepping in the shower, you are wasting 3,650 gallons of water per year, just waiting for the water to warm up! That’s every member of your household. Saving a few gallons of water every day may seem like a drop in the bucket, but with 7billion people on the planet, Earth could use every drop!

 

This Issue: Plastic Pollutants

Plastics seem to make life easier every day, from grocery bags to straws. It is estimated that each Americans throws away more than 185 pounds of plastic each year.
But as cheap and convenient as plastic is to make and use, the environmental cost is astronomical. Plastic doesn’t decompose, and even as the particles do break down, they contaminate soil and ground water.

 

Do Your Part!

 

When you’re done with your toothbrush, reuse it. Scrub that tricky spot behind the faucet, clean the hinges of your toilet, scrub the grout in your tile work. Teach kids to make splatter paintings and detail clean their trophies. When you have used every bit of life, give it a good clean and recycle it. Rather than spending eternity in a landfill, that toothbrush that saved your smile can live a hundred lives before it’s done! Most mouthwash bottles are also recyclable, so check your local regulations and keep it in the bin!
Buying your family reusable straws can keep thousands of plastic single use straws from contaminating ground soil, while keeping your teeth free from acids and stains! Bring plastic bags back to the grocery store, which will have a recycling receptacle in the entryway. Try to remember to bring a canvas bag, use glass jars for buying in bulk, and ask for paper if you’ve forgotten your reusable bags. Every little bit helps!
And with your new spring cleaned routine, you can smile a little brighter! Every day, you’re making the world a little healthier place, and a little happier one, too!

Celebrate National Children’s Oral Health Month

At West Maple Pediatric Dentistry, we think every day is a great day to celebrate oral health! It’s our passion and our pleasure providing happy, healthy smiles to Omaha families for life!

February is National Children’s Oral Health Month, and we wanted to take the opportunity to first thank you for trusting us with your child’s care. Nothing means more to us than protecting the health of Omaha’s little smiles!

Second, we wanted to spend some time addressing common questions and concerns about the care your children are or ought to be receiving. Parenthood didn’t come with a handbook, and there is never an end to the second guessing, guilt, and worry we put ourselves through for our little ones. Thankfully, pediatric dentistry did come with a handbook! Several, actually. We spent years studying them, testing on them, and chasing new research so that one day we would have the opportunity to show off for you!

Every concern you have about your child’s health, oral or otherwise, is completely valid. You have a right to ask questions, to worry, and to be informed. We welcome your questions and are ready to discuss options any time you have a concern. We know that your children mean the world to you, and the fact that you trust us with their care means the world to us!

Here are some of the most common concerns our clients had about their children’s oral health:

Baby’s First Check-Up. How Soon is Too Soon?

The impact of early treatment for babies is vital. Your child should have their first visit between the eruption of their first tooth, which usually occurs around 6 months old, and their first birthday. Your child’s tooth could wait to erupt until 10 or 11 months, or they could already have one at birth! These are all variations of normal, and nothing to worry about. There are many reasons parents choose to skip this crucial initial visit.

  • With no visible decay, parents often feel this early visit isn’t importantDeveloping a good relationship with the dentist helps avoid the anxiety many people experience when they have a dental appointment approaching. Early encounters help your child understand that the dentist is there to protect and help them, which makes it easier to cope when they do have a procedure done. Also, lip and tongue tie issues can be addressed early before they cause problems with speech and spacing.And while pooling milk in cheeks and along the gum line can cause decay and gum disease, your child could very easily be picking it up from a shared spoon, or even from kisses by family members who are suffering from gingivitis, unaware that it is a communicable disease. Early treatment can keep your child’s mouth healthy, even before the eruption of the first molar!
  • Baby teeth fall out anyway, does it really matter if they’re healthy?

    YES! Not only are you developing a lifetime of oral health habits, but you’re preventing gum disease, pain, and possible bone loss. When children’s teeth decay, it affects more than what you see. This can cause disease to spread into their permanent teeth, and even their jaw bone. Unhealthy bacteria in the gums can lead to abscesses, and these bacteria can spread to the blood stream, causing serious health complications. If a tooth is lost early to injury or decay, a spacer is needed to allow room for the adult tooth to eventually grow in.
  • It’s too expensive to go every six months from infancy through collegeA study done for The Journal of Pediatrics indicated that children who visit the dentist by age 1 had 40% lower dental costs by the age of 5. Early prevention of decay and gum disease cuts the cost of care nearly in half. Avoiding those early cavities and identifying spacing and development issues early can save you a small fortune in surgery and repair.

Flouride Facts and Fictions

The internet is a beautiful place filled with all of the information humans were able to pour into it. Parenting message boards and Facebook groups are full of worried parents trying to support one another. Sometimes this connection can get you through those really hard parenting days. Sometimes, it leaves you more confused and afraid than when you started scrolling through.

The fear that fluoride causes everything from stained teeth to autism runs rampant in a lot of homeopathic and natural parenting groups. We understand how this myth was started, but let us assure you, fluoride treatments only protect your child’s teeth. It is important that your child be old enough to spit their fluoride toothpastes out before you allow them to brush unsupervised, because of course you don’t want them simply eating it, but fluoride treatments are completely safe and effective. We do encourage you to do your own research if you don’t feel comfortable, and we always respect our client’s wishes for their children’s treatment plans.

Our Teeth Are Sealed

As your child grows, their smooth molars will develop what dentists refer to as “pits and fissures”. These are the porous parts of the molar where sugars, bacteria, and plaque can accumulate, causing decay. This part of the tooth only accounts for about 15% of the total real-estate of your teeth, but it is where approximately 80% of cavities are diagnosed.

While it’s widely recommended that teeth be sealed with a resin to prevent decay, 60% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 haven’t had the treatment, and suffer 3 times as many cavities as children who have had at least one sealant treatment.

Permanent molars, which erupt around age 6, are the most commonly sealed teeth. Your dentist can tell you if your child’s teeth are good candidates for sealant, and can help you determine when the best time to place the resin.

How Hard is Healthy?


From sugary diets to forgetting to floss, sometimes it feels like there are a million ways to go wrong with your healthy smile. Thankfully, with just five of the right steps, you can protect your child’s smile for life!

 

  1. Start Early – Schedule your child’s first visit before their first birthday and protect those tiny milk teeth!
  2. A Healthy Routine – A fun bedtime song, dance, or routine to keep brushing and flossing fun could become a treasured memory while protecting precious teeth.
  3. A Healthy Diet – Filling your child’s plate with vegetables, healthy proteins, and bright fruits can fill their bellies and prevent cravings for unhealthy treats. Drinking plenty of water, especially immediately after eating starches or proteins, can make or break a healthy smile!
  4. Preventative Treatments – Fluoride and sealants stop decay before it starts, helping your child avoid more stressful (and expensive) treatments down the line.
  5. A Great Relationship – Finding a smile team you can trust and communicate with creates a stress-free environment for your child, and sets them up for a lifetime of keeping their dental appointments…

We only get one chance at perfect teeth, but you have a new chance every day to instill healthy habits to help your child protect theirs! Thank you for choosing West Maple Pediatric, and Dr. Lourdes Secola to be your smile team!

How to choose the best toothpaste for your child

include antibacterial agents, fluoride, and mild abrasives. There are tons of choices when it comes to children’s toothpastes. In fact, there are so many choices that it
can make buying toothpaste a very difficult process. However, choosing the right toothpaste promotes good oral hygiene habits, and helps your child maintain a healthy smile.

There are thousands of different bacterias in your mouth. They group together and create the film on teeth that we refer to as “plaque.” When this plaque is not removed, it can accumulate and cause things like tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste significantly decreases the risk of developing these problems, helps create a lasting healthy smile, and promotes overall health and well being in general.

To help you choose the best toothpaste for your child and their teeth, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Choose a toothpaste with the ADA seal—It is important to choose a toothpaste that has been approved as safe and effective product in maintaining optimum dental health. To ensure you are buying a product that is recommended by the American Dental Association, look for their seal of approval, which can be located on the toothpaste box and tube.  The ADA seal ensures the toothpaste has been objectively tested and approved as safe by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. The most reliable informant for dental product recommendations is your child’s pediatric dentist. As a specialist, your pediatric dentist can provide guidance and direction in choosing the best toothpaste for your child.
  2. Dodge harsh abrasives—Choosing an age befitting toothpaste for your child is actually quite critical, because some toothpastes consist of harsh ingredients that may erode and wear away young tooth enamel, the protective outer coating of the teeth. Abrasives are key in polishing and removing plaque from the teeth, but large amounts of phosphates and alumina found in some toothpastes, for example, can be too strong for young enamel and may actually cause young teeth to become too sensitive. To choose a toothpaste that is gentle enough for you’re your child’s teeth, ask your pediatric dentist which toothpastes are age appropriate and most beneficial for your particular child.
  3. Look for fluoride—According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children of all ages should use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect teeth against cavities and plaque build up. Ingesting too much fluoride is not healthy, especially for young children, so the amount of fluoridated toothpaste used must be controlled. The advised amount for children under three years of age is a ‘smear,’ while a pea-sized amount is recommended for older kids. Children under two years of age generally are unable to spit out their toothpaste, so take caution, as kids this young may swallow small amounts of fluoride when a parent or caregiver is brushing their teeth. Ask your pediatric dentist about fluoridated toothpaste for children under three years of age.
  4. Take flavor into consideration—Though flavor may not be considered technically relevant to dental health, choosing a toothpaste that tastes good to a child helps get him or her more excited about the routine of brushing their teeth. Some kids dislike the taste of minty toothpastes, because they feel too ‘spicy’ on the tongue or make the mouth tingle. While most adults prefer these flavors, kids tend to become more willing to brush more consistently and often when ‘fun’ toothpaste flavors, such as strawberry or bubble gum are offered. Finding a flavor your child is excited about encourages them to practice good dental hygiene habits that will hopefully last a lifetime. In fact, letting kids pick their own flavors may even have them asking to brush their teeth more often!

Utah Kids Score Poorly on Oral Healthcare

Significant numbers of Utah elementary schoolchildren have experience with cavities or have untreated dental decay requiring immediate care, according to the results of a new study. Many children are also lacking dental insurance or have not received required dental care because their parents could not afford it.
These are the results of the latest survey of children between the ages of 6 and 9 conducted by the Utah Department of Health. Conducted every five years, the survey includes a parent questionnaire and a dental screening exam of each child, with the results intended to guide the state’s Oral Health Program to determine future activities, monitor trends, and improve the oral health of Utah children.

 

Untreated decay still a problem

The 2015-2016 Oral Health Survey was conducted between September 2015 and January 2016. The survey was given to parents of more than 5,100 children ages 6 to 9 in first through fourth grades in 47 randomly selected public schools in Utah.

The parents were asked to complete questionnaires focusing on the following:

  • Dental insurance coverage
  • Toothache and time since the child had seen a dentist
  • Unmet dental needs and problems accessing dental care
  • Source of drinking water
  • History of fluoride supplementation
  • Participation/eligibility for the free or reduced-price lunch program
  • Demographic information on the child

The dental screenings were performed by dental hygienists using dental LED headlights in place of dimmer, portable dental overhead lights that were used in the 2005 and 2010 surveys. The overhead lights made it harder to identify tooth-colored restorations and tooth-colored or clear sealants, according to the authors.

The following were noted during the screening:

  • Presence of cavitated untreated caries
  • Presence of treated cavities
  • Number of surfaces decayed, missed, or filled (primary and permanent)
  • Presence of sealants on permanent molars
  • Dental treatment needs

Of the parent questionnaires and consent forms handed out, 45% were filled out and returned. Of those, almost 90% of parents gave consent for their child to undergo screening. After excluding children who did not meet the study’s age criteria, more than 1,900 underwent a screening. The researchers adjusted the data to be representative of the state.

They found that 66% of children ages 6 to 9 have experienced cavities, compared with the national Healthy People 2020 target of 49%. This year’s results represent a significant increase from 52% of children having experienced cavities in the 2010 Utah survey.

Untreated tooth decay was found in 19% of children, up from 17% in 2010, yet better than the national target of 26%. Urgent care admission caused by oral pain and infection was needed by 2% of respondents.

The presence of dental sealants improved from 26% in 2010 to 45% in the current survey, well ahead of Healthy People 2020 goal of 28%. The lack of dental insurance improved to 18% from 22% in 2010. Also, 17% had not visited a dentist in the past year, and 2% had never been. Unmet dental needs were found in 4% of children, which was improved from the previous survey, with 46% of those saying that they could not afford it, and 30% that they lacked dental insurance.

The researchers found disparities in care and insurance coverage among children of Hispanic origin compared with other children, as well as in children of racial minorities. Children who qualified for the free and reduced-price lunch program also had substantially higher rates of cavities and untreated decay.

Access to care by race and ethnicity

Greater access to care needed

The authors reported some limitations of the study’s results:

  • The questionnaire for parents was based on self-reporting, subject to recall bias, and could reflect underreporting or overreporting.
  • The overall survey response rate was below 50%.
  • Dental screening results could not be reported for each racial minority group because of small numbers.

They recommended several strategies to improve the oral health of children in Utah:

  • Increasing access to dental insurance and care
  • Enhancing the public’s understanding of the importance of oral health and its benefits to overall health and quality of life
  • Improving coverage by educating families about Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, and other dental insurance
  • Expanding access to community water fluoridation
  • Expanding school-based caries prevention activities, such as fluoride varnish and sealant programs in elementary schools
  • Providing better incentives and reimbursements to dental practitioners who see low-income people
  • Focus on closing the dental care access gap by increasing awareness of existing community resources

 

Pediatric Dentists and Childhood Obesity

When it comes to tackling the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, dentists are in a unique position to start a conversation with parents.

downloadThey already talk about the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages, the importance of not letting babies go to bed with bottles— so why not take it a step further and talk about obesity?

This was just one of the solutions proposed at Healthy Futures: Engaging the Oral Health Community in Childhood Obesity Prevention. The Nov. 3-4 conference brought together 125 dentists, hygienists, physicians, nurses, educators, researchers and dietitians to discuss ways the professions can work collaboratively on prevention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. And because obese youth are more likely to be obese as adults, this can put them on a path to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many other serious medical conditions as adults.

It’s a problem no one profession can solve singlehandedly, which is why words like interprofessional and collaboration were stressed repeatedly during the two-day event.

During the conference, presenters shared studies, evidence-based recommendations and advocacy efforts already in motion. They also discussed new ways to engage parents, educators, communities and insurers on the importance of the issue.

This need for health professionals to work together was timely: On Nov. 1, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued draft guidance recommending clinicians screen for obesity in children and adolescents age 6 years and older.

While proposed solutions such as oral health curriculum in schools, increased chair-side screenings and dentists providing nutrition guidance were favorable received, so were the existing barriers. For every potential game-changer exists the sobering reality that everyone—be it a solo practice, dental school or hospital — needs more time, money and training. The issues of reimbursement — would insurance cover this? — and mostly incompatible relationship between medical and dental electronic health records were also discussed.

In addition to talking solutions, presenters and participants alike talked evidence, and the need for more of it.

Healthy Futures was organized by the ADA, National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Hygienists’ Association and Santa Fe Group. It was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and its commitment to eliminating young children’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and ensuring children enter kindergarten at a healthy weight. A reception was provided by the DentalQuest Foundation.