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What are Dental Sealants and When Should Kids Get Them? – Boston, Concord, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dental Sealants for kids help prevent cavities on the chewing surface of permanent teeth. They reduce the chance of cavities by about 70%.

Baby teeth are smoother on top, so sealants aren't usually used on them. But permanent back teeth have grooves and crevices where food and germs can gather and cause cavities. So when the first permanent molars come in, usually around ages 6 to 7 1/2, those four teeth should be sealed, and when the second permanent molars come in at age 12 or 13, those four should be sealed as well. Most insurance companies cover sealants up to age 14.

The dental sealants are the same kind of white, bonded material used to fill cavities, but more liquid in consistency. During the painless procedure, dentists paint on the liquid, which fills in the grooves and crevices. Sealants don't eliminate the need to brush. You still have the gum line, you still have between teeth.

For more information on dental sealants for kids, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

NewsDay

Do Kids Need Dental Sealants? – Boston, Concord, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, March 12, 2015

Many young kids have a sweet tooth.

They’d rather drink juice than water and they don’t turn down candy often.

So, often pediatric dentists will suggest that dental sealants could keep tooth decay at bay in permanent molars.

Any type of preventive thing we can do to help keep a child’s smile beautiful, we want to do.

But a child’s mouth is part of an ongoing debate over whether enough kids get the liquid plastic coverings that protect “the most decayed tooth in the mouth.”

Only about 20% of children at poverty level and only 40% of kids from higher-income homes actually receive recommended sealants, according to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That confounds pediatric dentists. Decades of research demonstrate that coating the biting surfaces of 6-year molars with a resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by up to nearly 80% immediately -- and up to 60% for four years or more.

It’s imperative that as soon as those adult teeth erupt, that they be sealed.

In practice, however, less than 40% of dentists actually follow the recommendations of the ADA, according to a 2011 study. The study tracked whether dentists were willing to seal teeth with the beginnings of decay, but no actual cavities.

The lack of dentists doing dental sealants for kids is a very silent and probably the most significant issue to care we face among children. Parents should be asking for sealants and not taking no for an answer.

Gordon J. Christensen, who publishes Clinicians Report, widely regarded as the “Consumer Reports of dental products,” says that sealants done properly are “an excellent technique” for combatting decay. But, he adds, the success of the sealant depends largely on the skill of the person who applies it.

“They have to seek out a practitioner who knows what they’re doing,” he said.

Christensen is concerned about so-called “non-cavitated caries lesions,” early signs of tooth decay that have not yet resulted in cavities. He worries that sealants trap plaque on the tooth, creating an environment that fuels future decay.

CDC researchers say studies have shown that decay does not progress once sealants are added.

Dental sealants are formed when a plastic-like liquid is dripped onto the biting surface of the tooth, coating the pits and fissures that typically trap food and foster bacterial growth.

They’re applied to the permanent molars and set with ultraviolet light, ideally between the ages of 5 and 7, when the teeth erupt. Cost can be $30 to $40 for each tooth and is typically covered by most dental insurance policies.

Studies consistently showed that sealants warded off decay in high proportions of permanent teeth, sometimes for up to a decade.

Between 45 million and 55 million sealants are applied each year in the U.S., with pediatric dentists performing more than twice as many procedures as either general dentists or dental hygienists.
Support for the sealants is shared by oral health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who are particularly in favor of school-based sealant programs that reach kids without regular care.
For many middle-class parents whose children do see the dentist, the problem is that the subject of sealants may not even be raised.

Some dentists, mostly those who treat few children, might be leery of sealants because they can be tricky to place, or because they didn’t learn to use them in dental school and aren’t in the habit of offering the treatment.

To be clear, not all children need sealants because their teeth are naturally not prone to decay or they have exceptional oral hygiene habits. But only a dentist can tell and parents should at least inquire.

But many do, and not just children typically at high risk. Recent studies have shown that boys in higher-income homes had the greatest prevalence of decay.

For those who do require sealants, they may mean the difference between a lifetime of healthy teeth and the pain and health risks of chronic decay.

What folks need to know is that 90 percent of decay in the adult is on the biting surface on the back tooth.

Dentistry is a very demand-based health service. Patient demand really affects what dentists do in their practices.

For more information on dental sealants for kids, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

NBC News

Tips On Introducing Your Child to their Dentist - Boston, Concord, MA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 06, 2015

Your child should have his or her first visit to the dentist around age one. Prior to this, it’s unusual for children to experience tooth or mouth pain (other than that associated with teething), and until children have a relatively full mouth of teeth, there’s not much a dentist can do. Of course, if you have any concerns about your child’s oral health, you should consult a dentist regardless of your child’s age.

To prepare for your child’s first dental checkup, bring your child along to one of your dental cleanings. This will give your child a chance to meet the dentist and hygienist, to see what happens at the dentist, and to get comfortable with the surroundings. All of this will make your child more comfortable during his or her own visit.

At Today's Dental of Boxborough, we provide friendly, quality dental care to kids and families. From your child’s first visit to maintaining the healthy smiles of seniors, we care about teeth.

For more information on pediatric dentistry, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Inside BelleVille

Bring Kids to Pediatric Dentist by Age 1 For Long Term Oral Health – Boston, Concord, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, March 05, 2015

Parents anxiously await that first tooth in their child. It is an anxiously awaited milestone, but it’s also the beginning of your child’s oral health habits. Parents should book their child’s first dentist appointment by age one so that kids can develop proper oral hygiene habits and enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile well into old age.

Tips for Early Tooth Care

As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, you need to start taking care of it. Brush your child’s teeth and gums gently with a soft brush or a clean, damp washcloth wrapped around your finger. Ideally, you should start cleaning your baby’s mouth even before teeth are present, both to get your baby used to brushing and to keep the gums and oral tissues clean.

Don’t use fluoridated toothpaste for children under three years old. If you think your child might be at risk for tooth decay, a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste might be prudent, but be sure to consult your dentist before introducing fluoride. In most cases, water and the gentle brushing motion are sufficient to remove bacteria and clean the mouth. Fluoride-free toothpastes are also available to get children used to using toothpaste prior to age three.

Healthy eating and drinking habits also help keep the teeth and mouth healthy. Don’t put your child to bed with a bottle, and give water if your child needs a drink at bedtime. Always limit sugary foods and drinks, which promote bacterial growth and cause tooth decay and cavities.

For more information on pediatric dentistry and healthy oral habits for kids, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Inside BelleVille

Good Oral Health Habits Need to Start Early – Boston, Concord, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Did you know that the No.1 chronic childhood illness is tooth decay? Pediatric dental disease is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.

While the average adult visits the dentist two times per year, 25% of kindergartners have never been to a dentist. Many parents are not aware of the right time to bring a child into the dental office, or do not see the benefit in having dental care on “baby teeth that are going to fall out anyways.”

Each February, the American Dental Association raises awareness about the importance of pediatric oral health during National Children’s Dental Health Month. The goal is to educate the community on how seeing a dentist can improve overall health.

Visiting the dentist starting six months after the eruption of an infant’s first tooth, or by age 1, allows a child to establish a dental home. This allows the dentist and hygienist to provide early education on a variety of topics, such as proper dental hygiene, a healthy diet for optimal oral health, benefits of sealants, fluoride and information on other preventative measures. The benefits of this early counseling cannot be overstated. The first visit to the dentist can often be compared to a well-baby checkup at the pediatrician.

By age 3, most children have a complete set of 20 baby teeth. Preventative education, and early dental treatment if necessary, can significantly reduce the risk of severe decay and teeth lost due to dental abscesses. The baby molars are not expected to fall out until between the ages of 9-12. For a total of 6-9 years, these teeth play a role in helping the child eat a nutritious diet. They are very important for proper space maintenance for the developing permanent teeth and the alignment of the first permanent molar, which comes in at around age 6.

Studies have shown that early childhood decay can lead to problems with eating, speaking, self-esteem and learning. Sippy cups, baby bottles and recappable soft and sports drink bottles increase the frequency of sugars and acids in the diet by promoting a long-sipping period. When a child sips all day, the bacteria in the mouth digest the sugars, producing acids that erode the enamel of the teeth. With frequent sipping, the protective saliva in the mouth does not have the chance to remineralize, or harden, the enamel. Cavities can quickly form when the frequency of acid and sugar consumption is so high.

We now know of a sweet sugar substitute that can actually be good for your teeth.  Xylitol, a sweetener that is extracted from birch bark, can be found in products such as Ice Chips hard candies, and Spry chewing gum. It is a substance that cannot be broken down by the streptococcus mutans bacteria in your mouth, and therefore cannot be used to form the acids that cause tooth decay. It also helps to stimulate salivary flow, which can have a protective effect on your teeth.

Dental sealants are another preventative measure that benefits children when the six-year permanent molars, and then 12-years molars, erupt. Sealants consist of a coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, where most decay occurs. When undisturbed, these sealants help to block out bacteria and acids from the deep pits and fissures of the back teeth, where toothbrush bristles often aren’t able to thoroughly clean. Sealants have been proven to be effective, yet only about one-third of children aged 6–19 years have them.

Pediatric dentists strive to educate and provide preventive treatment that will help each child obtain a lifetime of dental health. They evaluate six-year and 12-year molars for sealants, monitor orthodontic development and make referrals to local orthodontists for early treatment as necessary. Fluoride varnishes and supplements are discussed and often recommended to help make teeth as resistant to decay as possible. Every child should have the knowledge, resources and skills to take care of their teeth, so they can continue to smile, learn and grow.

Your dental office may be playing a bigger role in helping you stay healthy than anyone could have imagined a few short years ago.

For more information, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Auburn Reporter

Prevent Cavities in Kids – Boston, Concord, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February is National Children's Dental Health Month, so pediatric dentists want to remind parents that children can avoid cavities.

Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable. But, despite this, it is the most common chronic disease in children. However, there are safe and effective ways to help protect your children's teeth:

  • The first line of defense is to visit the dentist regularly and early by the child's first birthday.
  • Don't ignore baby teeth as the first teeth can come in between six and nine months but do not fall out until between the ages of six and seven years of age.
  • Teeth that come in between 2 and 3 years old do not fall out until between 12 and 13 years of age.
  • Parents should wipe babies' teeth off with a wet washcloth or gauze after babies eat or drink then progress to soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Do not put your child to bed with a 'sippy' cup or bottle of fruit or milk because simply bathing their teeth in sugar can lead to "baby bottle tooth decay."
  • Parents should start the brushing process on their children's teeth until the age of 7 and have the child finish brushing.
  • Encourage the child to spit out the toothpaste.
  • Have children help pick out their own toothbrushes.
  • If children drink bottled water, inform your dentist as they may not be getting enough fluoride.
  • Dental sealants are recommended on back permanent teeth when they erupt.
  • Restrict all foods and drinks with high sugar content as bacteria feed on the sugar and produce acids which eat the enamel and causes cavities to form.
  • Establish regular snack and meal times.
  • Choose medicines and cough drops that are sugar-free.

For more information on preventing cavities in kids, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

FOX News

Great Kids' Dental Health During "Children's Dental Health Month" - Boston, Concord, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You don’t have to wait until your baby has teeth to start good oral health habits in children. You can start practicing good nutrition and good oral hygiene right away. It is up to you to develop the routines that will help protect your child from tooth decay and other oral health problems. Here are some tips.

1) Start Proper Oral Hygiene Habits ASAP

Gently clean your infant's gums and newly erupting first teeth after each feeding with a water-soaked gauze pad to clean around the teeth and gums.

2) Brush With Care

When your baby's teeth begin to erupt, brush them gently with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush using no more than a thin smear of fluoridated toothpaste.

3) Teach Your Children

When your child turns 2, you can begin to teach your child proper brushing techniques with no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. You should follow up their efforts by gently brushing the teeth again. Modeling correct technique is important. When your child is about 6 years old, he/she should be developing the dexterity to do it alone. You can then introduce flossing.

4) Check Your Water

Determine if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated. If it is not, discuss supplement options with your dentist. Keep in mind that toothpastes and various foods may also contain fluoride.

5) Fight Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Don't let your child go to sleep with a pacifier or bottle filled with anything but water. When teeth are frequently exposed to sugar-containing fluids (including breast milk and formula) for long periods, the potential for decay increases dramatically.

6) Avoid Sugar

Understand that if your child ingests sugars, it will take the saliva a minimum of 30 minutes to neutralize the acidity that is created by decay-producing bacteria. A sugary snack every hour can mean your child's mouth is always acid, increasing the chances for tooth decay.

Did you know?

A baby's primary teeth begin forming before birth — at about the sixth week of pregnancy, and begin mineralizing at around the third to fourth month of pregnancy. To ensure proper dental development, the mother's diet must be adequate in all nutrients, especially calcium, phosphorous, and protein.

7) Make a Dental Appointment

Your child should see a pediatric dentist around the time of his/her first birthday and then regularly thereafter. It is important to establish a dental home. Your pediatric dentist will teach you how to prevent dental disease, check for cavities in the primary teeth and watch for developmental problems, and set a positive precedent for future visits.

8) Prevent Cavities

Ask your dentist about dental sealants and fluoride applications to protect your child's teeth. Sealants can prevent food from getting stuck in the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces and topical fluoride will strengthen the enamel against decay.

9) Keep Your Cool

If you feel anxious about a visit to a children's dentist, try not to convey these feelings to your child. This is very important for emotional well-being. Encourage your child to discuss any fears he/she might have about visiting a dentist, but don't put any new fears into his/her head. It is a good rule of thumb not to mention the words “hurt” or “pain” as it raises a possibility he/she might not have thought of.

10) Childproof Your Home

Research has shown that children under age 7 sustain over half of the dental injuries to their primary (baby) teeth playing in close proximity to home furniture.

For more information on kids dental health, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

deardoctor.com

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month – Boston, Concord, Acton, MA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, January 30, 2015

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). This makes this month a great time for parents to remember the importance that oral health plays our kid’s overall health and wellness. The health of little teeth is more critical than many people realize. In fact, the leading chronic infectious disease among children in the U.S. is tooth decay.

In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) launched the Monster-Free Mouths Movement to address the nation-wide health threat that tooth decay (also known as the Mouth Monsters) is to the health and welfare of children. The educational campaign arms parents and caregivers with important tools and information to help fight tooth decay.

In conjunction with the campaign, the AAPD “State of Little Teeth Report” examines the public health crisis of tooth decay among young children in America. Select key findings of the report include:

Early childhood tooth decay is serious and on the rise. A rapid form of tooth decay among very young children called early childhood caries (ECC) is the most common disease faced by children, and it’s on the rise.

Early dental visits are strongly recommended, rarely made. Despite a strong consensus among experts that babies see a pediatric dentist in their first year of life, only a fraction of parents bring their children this early.

There is a shortage of dentists skilled in treating children. Overall, there are too few dentists willing and able to treat young children, especially those covered by Medicaid, who face barriers finding care.

There is a need to expand pediatric dental education. Providing dental care for young children, especially those with special needs, requires special training. There is a need for expanding dental education to produce more pediatric dentists and more general dentists with the knowledge, skills and willingness to treat children.

“Oral health is an important part of a child’s overall health and well-being – but it is sometimes overlooked in the early years,” says Dr. Edward H. Moody, AAPD president and practicing pediatric dentist. “A key part of keeping little teeth healthy is regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist. National Children’s Dental Health Month is a great time to schedule an appointment or to find a pediatric dental office for your child, ideally no later than the first birthday, to lay the foundation for a healthy smile for a lifetime.”

To help parents and caregivers fight tooth decay, the following three steps are key:

1. Establish a dental home – or home base – for your child’s oral health care by finding a local pediatric dentist.

2. Help your child develop healthy oral habits early by brushing as soon as the first tooth appears and explaining tooth decay in child-friendly terms.

3. To join the Monster-Free Mouths Movement and to take advantage of resources, visit mouthmonsters.mychildrensteeth.org. Parents and caregivers will find information to help keep little teeth healthy, including informative articles, practical tips and tools like a Mouth Monster toolkit, an easy-to-use pediatric dentist finder and the full “State of Little Teeth Report.”

For more information on why you should choose a pediatric dentist for your child, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Journal Sentinel

Why it is Important to Bring Children to a Pediatric Dentist – Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When kids are young, they look up to their parents. Kids try to mimic their parents’ actions and take every opportunity to do what they do. If your child is hesitant about going to the dentist, it may help if you begin taking them to the same dentist that you yourself visit. What usually interferes is that children require a specific pediatric dentist to properly care for their constantly changing dental needs. Luckily, multi-specialty dental practices like Today’s Dental of Boxborough has a team of highly-trained dentists specializing in a variety of dentistry subcategories.

Parents can get all of their general and cosmetic dentistry needs fulfilled while being assured that their children’s complex needs are being met as well. Here are three reasons why it’s important to bring your child to an experienced pediatric dentist:

Physical Differences – Since children’s teeth are at very different stages of development, a pediatric dentist needs to be trained in a wide variety of situations to decide the right course of action when treating a child. Knowing how baby teeth will affect a child’s permanent smile is a vital skill while assessing if or when a child should be referred to an orthodontist. This decision is made easier by multi-specialty practices.

Comfort – Since many children have anxiety about going to the doctor or dentist, it’s important that your child goes to a specialist trained to provide care and comfort along with expert dental care. A general adult dentist might be more cold and clinical and can have trouble connecting to children on a personal level.

Habits – Another important aspect of pediatric dentistry is educating young patients on how to develop proper brushing and flossing habits that will last them a lifetime. Children also are naturally curious about everything in their world, including their teeth, so a pediatric dentist is there to answer any and every question that a child may have. Pediatric dentists generally have much more patience and better bedside manner than general dentists.

For more information on pediatric dentistry, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Gnomes

Malocclusion of Teeth: What is it, What Causes it, What are the Symptoms? Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Occlusion refers to the alignment of your teeth. Your teeth should fit easily within your mouth without any crowding or spacing and none of your teeth should be rotated or twisted. The teeth of your upper jaw should slightly overlap the teeth of your lower jaw so that the points of your molars fit into the groves of the opposite molar.

Malocclusion is when this does not occur. If the teeth are misaligned, they will not be able to perform vital functions and can cause health problems. Alignment of the upper teeth is needed to prevent the cheeks and lips from being bitten, while alignment of lower teeth is needed to protect the tongue.

Malocclusion of teeth is also known as: crowded teeth, misaligned teeth, crossbite, overbite, underbite, or open bite.

Causes of Malocclusion?

Malocclusion is typically inherited. In fact, only 30% to 40% percent of the population has perfectly aligned teeth.

However, there are some conditions or habits that may alter the shape and structure of the jaw to cause malocclusion. These include:

  • cleft lip and palate
  • the use of a pacifier after the age of three
  • the prolonged use of bottle feeding in early childhood
  • thumb sucking in early childhood
  • injuries that result in the misalignment of the jaw
  • tumors in the mouth or jaw
  • abnormally shaped or impacted teeth
  • poor dental care that results in improperly fitting dental fillings, crowns, or braces

Symptoms of a Malocclusion

Depending on the classification, the symptoms of malocclusion may be subtle or severe. Typical symptoms of malocclusion include:

  • improper alignment of the teeth
  • alteration in the appearance of the face
  • discomfort when chewing or biting
  • speech problems, including the development of a lisp
  • breathing through the mouth rather than the nose

Next week in this blog post, we will discuss diagnosis and classification of malocclusion as well as treatment and prevention.

For more information on malocclusion, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

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