Posts for: February, 2019
While children are less likely than adults to experience periodontal (gum) disease, the same can't be said for tooth decay. One aggressive form of decay called early childhood caries (ECC) can have a profound effect on a child's dental development and future health.
That's why dentists who treat young children often use a variety of preventive measures to reduce the risk of ECC and other dental diseases. One popular method is dental sealants, dental material coatings applied to the biting surfaces of teeth that fill in the naturally occurring pits and crevices. These areas are highly susceptible to plaque formation, a bacterial biofilm of food particles that tends to accumulate on teeth. It's the bacteria that live in plaque that are most responsible for the formation of tooth decay.
Roughly one third of children between the ages of 6 and 11 have received some form of dental sealant. It's a quick and painless procedure applied during a routine office visit. The dentist brushes the sealant in liquid form on the teeth, and then hardens it with a special curing light. It's common for children to begin obtaining sealant protection as their molars begin to come in.
With their increased popularity among dentists, researchers have conducted a number of studies to see whether dental sealants have a measurable effect reducing tooth decay. After reviewing the cases of thousands of children over several years, many of these studies seemed to show that children who didn't receive sealants were more than twice as likely to get cavities as children who did.
As evidence continues to mount for dental sealants' effectiveness protecting young children from decay, both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry now recommend it for all children. Not only can sealants help preserve children's teeth now, but they can reduce future costs for dental treatment that results from tooth decay.
February is National Children's Dental Health month, sponsored annually by the American Dental Association. As important as good oral health is to a child's overall health and development, tooth decay tops the list as the most common chronic childhood disease. In fact, over 40% of children ages 2-11 have had cavities in their baby teeth.
If unchecked, tooth decay can have a profound impact on a child's quality of life. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable, and often reversible if detected early. Here are some things you can do to set your child on the path to good dental health for life:
Get your child in the habit of brushing and flossing every day. Cavity prevention starts at home, so teach your child to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste—but use only a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice before age 3, and a pea-sized amount from ages 3-6. Introduce dental floss into the routine when you notice that your child's teeth are starting to fit closely together. Children generally need help brushing until age 6 or 7 and flossing until around age 10.
Encourage tooth-healthy eating habits. Provide your child with a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Stay away from sugary snacks and beverages, especially between meals. If children drink juice, they should do so with meals rather than sipping juice throughout the day or at bedtime. Even 100% juice has natural sugars and can be acidic, which can harm teeth with prolonged exposure.
Establish a dental home early. Tooth decay isn't always easy to spot with the naked eye, so regular dental visits should start no later than a baby's first birthday. We can check the development of your child's teeth and spot any issues of concern. The earlier tooth decay is caught, the less damage it can do. Even if there are no dental problems, establishing a dental home early on will help your little one feel comfortable at the dental office.
Ask about preventive dental treatments. Fluoride varnishes or rinses are frequently recommended to help prevent cavities, particularly for children at higher risk of getting cavities. Dental sealants, another preventive treatment, are a coating commonly applied to molars to seal out tooth decay. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, children ages 6-11 with dental sealants have nearly three times fewer cavities than children who do not have sealants.
The key to healthy smiles for life is to start your child at a young age with good habits at home and regular dental visits. If you have questions about your child's dental health, call us or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health” and “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”
You have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA. You hesitate to use the CPAP machine from your sleep physician. Is there an alternative treatment? Yes, there is, and it's available from Dental Wellness of Lexington. Both Dr. Anthony Feck and Dr. Maxie Combs are members of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine They offer qualified patients oral appliance therapy to counter sleep apnea. Read here about how these Lexington, KY, dentists could help you.
Just what is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea affects up to 20 percent of American adults, advises the National Sleep Foundation. What does this sleep disorder involve? Basically, people stop, or cease, breathing periodically when they sleep at night or nap during the day. They repeatedly awaken, gasping for air, and exhibit other symptoms such as:
- Extremely loud and persistent snoring
- Daytime sleepiness
- Poor concentration ("brain fog")
Besides these symptoms, sleep apnea has far reaching health effects such as diabetes, memory issues, dementia, high blood pressure and more.
Sleep apnea falls into three categories, namely:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, where the soft tissues at the back of the throat relax and cover the airway as the person sleeps
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) in which the brain does not signal the respiratory system to take a breath
- Mixed Sleep Apnea, which is a combination of the above two
This dangerous sleep disorder happens more to men (by a ratio of two to one) than to women. Age (over 40) and being overweight factor into the diagnosis, too.
People who suspect they have this sleep disorder should speak to their primary care physicians who often refer to sleep physicians for definitive diagnoses by in-depth sleep studies.
A common treatment
Sleep physicians often prescribe CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, machines to combat sleep apnea, particularly when the diagnosis is CSA. A bedside CPAP machine is used at night to deliver a steady airflow through a nasal mask to the wearer. This air keeps the airway open, stopping most episodes of sleep apnea.
However, some people find CPAP therapy intolerable. They dislike the mask and the bulky, claustrophobic feeling it can create. The machines can be noisy, require diligent cleaning and present travel problems.
How your Lexington, KY, dentist can help
Oral appliance therapy offers a great alternative to CPAP. Dr. Feck and Dr. Combs prescribe customized acrylic devices which fit comfortably inside the mouth. Resembling sports mouth guards, oral appliances are worn whenever a patient sleeps. An oral appliance positions the lower jaw in a more forward position and thus keeps the airway open and functioning. Snoring is greatly reduced as are the episodes of apnea and startling awake.
Do you qualify?
Why not come to Dental Wellness of Lexington for a consultation? Your dentist will discuss your sleep apnea diagnosis with you and show you how an oral appliance could help you have better sleep and better overall health. Call today: (859) 223-4644.