Back to school is a great time to take a few minutes to discuss your children and teens' dental needs.

Packing snacks and lunch tips :

For elementary school :

* Hint: cheese is anticariogenic (helps prevent decay)
Pack a piece of cheese in the lunch bag and have your child finish lunch with a Ficello !

A pH level lower than 5.5 puts a person at risk for tooth erosion which wears away the enamel of the teeth. The higher the pH level above 5.5, the lower the chance of developing cavities. Subjects who eat cheese showed a rapid increase in pH levels suggesting that cheese has anti-cavity properties. (General Dentistry June 2013)

* Hint: do not give box juices
Drinking one box of apple juice is the equivalent of eating 9 apples! This is very acidic and puts children susceptible to cavities at high risk. Give them the apple...not the juice!

For high school :

* Hint: add a pack of Trident gum with Xylitol
Xylitol works to keep teeth healthy. Consumption of sugars over time can dissolve tooth enamel (demineralization). Bacteria can then invade and eat away the tooth's inner dentin layer leading to cavities.

Unlike sugar, xylitol does not promote acid or dental caries. With xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over 1/2 an hour is stopped. Chewing xylitol after meals and snacks stimulates saliva and enhances its protective properties. It raises plaque pH and lessens the amount of time teeth are exposed to sugars and acids. For best results, choose gum sweetened only with xylitol.

CAUTION!!!!

There is an alarming increase in the consumption of sports and energy drinks especially among teens.


The high acidity in the drinks erodes tooth enamel and is causing irreversible damage to the teeth.

Energy drinks cause twice as much damage to the teeth as sports drinks. Without the protection of tooth enamel the teeth become overly sensitive and are more likely to decay.
Schedule 2 yearly dental check-ups:

Cavities can form within 6 months !

* Check for cavities

This is accomplished performing a visual examination with dental explorer, taking radiographs and utilizing Diagnodent.

  • A visual examination with explorer helps us find decay on the of teeth.
  • X-rays show us advanced decay and decay between the teeth.
  • Only Diagnodent, an advanced dental technology, can help us detect tooth decay inside the tooth. The light probe of the Diagnodent scans the tooth with harmless pulses of laser light. When the laser reaches the decay under the surface of the teeth, the decay emits a fluorescent light. This light bounces back to the sensor and is translated into a digital readout and an audible signal. In general, the higher the number, the greater the amount of decay in the tooth. This tool enables us to accurately find decay in its earliest stages.
* Taking digital radiographs
Radiographs are essential to diagnose cavities between the teeth when they are still small. You don't have to worry about the radiation; it is minimal with today's digital radiographs.Radiation is minimal today with digital radiographs. Your child has more radiation from 2 days of sun exposure than from dental x-rays.

Radiation from digital x-rays can be as little as 10 % of what patients would be exposed to with film-based radiography.

However, always wear a lead apron with a collar to cover the most sensitive parts of your body ( thyroid) so they are not exposed to radiation.

*Check the occlusion (bite)
Should there be crowding, an easy and less costly solution is to expand the upper arch during the child's growth. This might eliminate the need for orthodontics or at least reduce the time in treatment. Of course, if orthodontics is required the new Invisalign, orthodontics without braces , is a clear possibility !

*Be sure to place sealants
Sealants are liquid resin that fill in deep fissures responsible for 80% of tooth decay on children's adult posterior teeth. The cost is a fraction of the price of a restoration (filling).

*Check tonsils and frenums
Abnormal frena can be associated with diastemas ( big spacing between the two front teeth which cannot close ), recession of the gingiva and malaligned teeth.

Enlarged tonsils can be associated with repetitive infections and sleep apnea because the airway is reduced. Signs and symptoms for potential sleep apnea include bed wetting, ADHD, chronically enlarged tonsils, snoring and arrested breathing at night.

** Review oral hygiene

Brushing:

*Hint for infants: Wipe infant's gums with clean, wet gauze or washcloth after every feeding.

*Hint for children: Children love the flashing light on the toothbrush and this ensures that they brush longer !

*Hint for teens: An electric toothbrush with timer is an excellent choice for both teens and adults.

Flossing:

*Hint for children: Start with floss forks as they require less dexterity.

*Hint for teens: Try the new Waterpik flosser that you can easily attach to your shower head ! Your teen can shower and floss at the same time ....How cool is that ? The only disadvantage might be that now you will never get them out of the shower :-)

Remember.......Confidence starts with a smile !