Trouble With Fruity Drinks, Treats & Soda

sugary drinksAs one of the local favorite dentists for children, Midland Dentistry 4 Kids knows that parents are always working hard to keep their kids active, healthy and happy. But sometimes, the healthy choices that you make in terms of food, can also hold some bad effects for your children’s dental care. According to dental experts, parents need to watch out for fruit juices, smoothies/puree snacks and sodas. New studies show that children who drink more than 3 sugary drinks each day increase their probably of developing tooth decay by 46%!

Providing your child with a seemingly healthy fruit juice or smoothie leads to many dental issues later in life from the acidity and sugar content these drinks actually contain. Bacteria in the mouth love sugar and produce dangerous plaque acids that attack the enamel. Parents who believe you are helping your child be healthier may be surprised to know that even though the fruit juice may not contain added sweeteners, the crushed fruits release sugar, making them just as damaging to your child’s teeth and possibly counteracting the positive health benefits the drinks and snacks may have.

Acids and sugar cannot be fully avoided, but limiting your child’s frequency of exposure will help. Exposing your child more frequently to sugary drinks is much worse than drinking a large quantity of acidic drinks at intermittent times. Eating the fruit is much healthier than the drinks because your child is exposed only for a few minutes, while a drink may be sipped throughout a much longer period. Washing it down with water afterward will help rinse your child’s mouth out and drinking large quantities of water while consuming these drinks and snacks in moderation will affect your child only a little, if at all.

Some snacks contain 11-20 grams of sugar, having no nutritional value considering the portion size. This may be even more than what some adults would want to consume in one day, according to Dentistry Today.

25% of children in the U.S. drink fruit juice regularly, 56% drink at least one sugary drink every day, while 91% drink soda regularly. Not only do these drinks pose a threat to your child’s teeth, but recent studies also show that other health factors have proven to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and gout. Water is much more beneficial because it has no sugar and lowers the risk of obesity—on the rise in U.S. children.

Now, for the good news!

sugary drinks

Some foods may actually boost your child’s oral health. Salmon, high in omega 3 oils, prevents inflammation. Basil is a natural antibiotic and may lower the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Quinoa keeps teeth and bones strong because it is rich in protein and calcium. Onions combat Streptococcus bacteria through their sulfur compound, while fruits high in vitamin C are considered natural teeth whiteners.

Even more good news: research in Ireland has resulted in indicating that enzyme-modified coconut oil is a major inhibitor to the growth of many Streptococcus bacteria strains, successfully fending off tooth decay! It can be considered an antibiotic and incorporated into dental care products to help oral health. More studies need to be done, but if this turns out to be true, coconut oil will have a huge positive impact on general dentistry.

When choosing a healthy drink for your child, think of the sugar content, fruit content and nutritional value. Remember that your choices can affect your child’s health. If you do decide to go for that sugary drink, make sure your child still has room for water after. Check out our previous post on tips to maintain healthy teeth for more information.

Childrens Dental Care: True or False

mom brushing baby's teethAt Midland Dentistry 4 Kids, we know there are many different facts and opinions about what can help or hurt your children’s oral care. As you partner in taking care of your family, we want to make sure you have the right information about how to deal with your child’s dental health and avoid any surprises at your next visit to Midland Dentistry 4 Kids.

Sugar is the Main Cause of Cavities

False! Sugar is definitely a factor, but it is the bacteria producing acid in your mouth that is the cause of cavities. Bacteria produces acid when you eat carbohydrates. Once the acid has created a cavity, bacteria can easily live inside protected from brushing and flossing and continue to create acid, making a cavity larger.

Several carbohydrates include rice, potatoes, bread, fruits, vegetables, and of course, sugar. It’s really not the amount of carbs you eat, but the length of time your teeth are exposed. Most kids don’t brush their teeth during the day so exposure is prolonged between brushings, and with so many sugary drinks and snacks out there, the exposure to carbohydrates is much higher.

Acidic Foods Such As Lemons Cause Tooth Decay

True! Although acidic foods and drinks don’t cause cavities, they tear down the enamel and weaken teeth. Once you lose the enamel’s protection and expose the underlying dentin, teeth are prone to decay, according to Kimberly A. Harms, DDS, an American Dental Association consumer advisor.

Also, keep in mind that aspirin is acidic. You may have heard that placing an aspirin tablet directly next to your tooth can help with a toothache, but placing it there may burn your gum tissue, causing an abscess. Aspirin is meant to be swallowed and works much better in your bloodstream.

All Fillings Need Eventual Replacement

False! Fillings are built to last. Amalgam or composite fillings only need to be replaced when a cavity forms around it, if it breaks down, or if a tooth fractures. It mainly depends on tooth wear and oral hygiene habits. Giving your child the good habits of daily brushing and flossing will ensure that the odds will be in favor of a lasting filling.

Cavities Can Easily Be Detected

False! Pain only comes when tooth decay is advanced. Mild tooth decay doesn’t cause symptoms and does not repair itself. It is important to make scheduled visits to the dentist. Preventative measures are much better than the more expensive and painful “fixes”, such as root canals.

Decaying Stops Once a Tooth Has Been Treated

True! Yes, it is true, but only for the part that was treated. Other areas of the tooth are still prone to decay, but the cavity filling, along with good hygiene habits will not typically decay in that spot again. Keep in mind that fillings may get old and chip on the edges where it meets the tooth, creating a difficult area to clean out so bacteria can still get in and begin to decay around the filling.

Cavities Are More Often Between Teeth

True! Anywhere you can’t reach with a brush or with floss is a good place for bacteria to hide. Tight teeth can make flossing difficult or nearly impossible for a lot of people. Mouth rinse with fluoride can give you more protection in areas that can’t be reached.

Baby Teeth Don’t Get Cavities

False! Baby teeth are placeholders for more permanent teeth. Many parents think that it is not a big deal because these will fall out and be replaced. It is very dangerous to disregard any cavities that form in a child’s baby teeth. If left untreated, serious pain and abscesses can form. Infections can develop and spread to other areas of the body, and can even result in death on rare occasions.

Brushing Everyday is the Best Way to Prevent Cavities

True! Prevention is key. Brushing at least twice a day for 2-3 minutes, and flossing at least once a day will help battle bacteria. Antimicrobial rinses reduce plaque, bad breath, lessen gingivitis, and mainly kill bacteria. Fluoride rinses make teeth stronger and more resistant to decay. There are now Fluoride rinses made especially for children that are mild enough for their sensitive mouth. Make sure your child brushes every morning and before he or she goes to bed to avoid food sitting on their teeth and gums all night long.

Midland Dentistry 4 Kids knows that good techniques in your daily brushing makes quite a difference in your oral health. Here are some tips to show your child how to brush effectively.

  • Choose the correct size toothbrush for your child – remember they are not adults.
  • Angle the brush at a 45 degree angle onto the tooth and into the gum line.
  • Using a soft-bristled brush, brush in a gentle motion.
  • Don’t use too much pressure, and don’t over-scrub.
  • Don’t miss any teeth – with a child-sized brush, your child should be able to reach every molar in the back of their mouth.

Now what is definitely true–and could never be false!– is that here at Midland Dentistry 4 Kids, we care about your child’s oral health. As always if your have any questions or inquiries concerning your child’s dental healthcare please feel free to ask our professional and knowledgeable staff! They will always tell you the truth!

Children’s Oral Care Problems

As a parent who pays special attention to their child’s oral health, it can often be quite shocking to discover that your child has cavities, or even something worse, like gum disease!

But did you know that most every problem with your children’s teeth is fairly common?

And did you also know that such complications can not only be prevented, but also quickly cured?

It’s Not Your Fault!

You shouldn’t necessarily blame yourself as the parent if your pediatric dentist alerts you to some amendments that need to be made with your child’s oral care. More often than not this just means they are going through the typical motions in childhood oral health.

In fact, a better way to perceive this is that kids who don’t run into at least one of the most common oral care problems are doing far better than average at keeping a healthy smile.

What are the most common childhood oral health issues then? We’ve compiled a short list for you, so that if your child does run into oral health problems, you as the parent can know whether or not to be worried.

Child’s Oral Care – Common Problems:

Teething

Teething occurs with every infant, but one thing to be aware of is that some will suffer more than others. If your child has extreme irritability, gum swelling, or any major pain during teething then there are sugar-free, infant teething gels that your dentist can recommend.

Remember to always consult your doctor before giving your children any kind of medication.

Gum Disease

This may come as a surprise, but gum disease is actually fairly common in that the early stages can easily come about without proper oral health care. All it takes to swell the gums and cause minor bleeding is enough tartar and plaque buildup on the gum-line.

Fortunately minor gingivitis can often be alleviated simply by improved brushing habits and continuing regular dental visits.

Tooth Decay/Cavities

One of the major differences between children’s teeth and adult teeth is that a child’s teeth have weaker layers of enamel. Therefore a child’s teeth are more susceptible to sugary drinks like soda and juices. If decay is left or overlooked by improper brushing, then it can start to form a cavity.

Cavities generally don’t start to hurt until the later stages, so if your child is complaining about pain then you shouldn’t wait for their next check-up to address the issue. If your child does happen to get tooth decay or a cavity, the problem can usually be caught early on, if not prevented by their regular dental appointments.

Enamel Erosion

One thing that parents might overlook when giving their kids juice or sodas (even diet!) is that they are quite acidic, and acid can slowly erode a tooth’s enamel, especially when drinking out of a bottle.

Toothpastes and mouthwashes are designed to strengthen enamel and help fight off such things, but with over-consumption or without proper brushing it’s not hard for a child to end up with some erosion of the enamel. Weak enamel is prone to tooth decay, so be sure to take the right steps to prevent it!

Cutting back on drinking from bottles, restricting carbonated drinks to mealtime, drinking only water after brushing at night – all of these are helpful ways to avoid acid erosion.

Lost Tooth

Sometimes, and especially when we are young, teeth can be knocked out. Whether it’s rough-housing, accidents, sports, anything really – kids have a knack of finding ways to lose a tooth. Rest assured though, you’re not the only parent left wondering what to do when your child brings back a cupped hand and a bloody mouth.

The best thing to do is to talk to your pediatric dentist. In the meantime you can try to prevent a lost tooth from drying out by placing it in a glass of milk, or having your child tuck it into their cheek.

Mouth Ulcers

Sometimes your dentist may observe small sores inside your child’s mouth. These red or yellow annoyances are ulcers, and they’re fairly common. Some typical causes of ulcers are: bad brushing, biting the inside of the cheek, hot food or drink burns, brace abrasions, etc.

Usually ulcers dissipate in a few days, and they can be treated with antiseptic rinses, so they aren’t too much to worry about. If they persist though, you should schedule an appointment or ask your dentist for advice.

Of course there are more complications that can occur with your child’s oral health, but these are the problems that we most commonly come across. As you can see, they are relatively minor issues, but each of them does need to be addressed to avoid any major problems.

If you aren’t sure whether or not to wait for your kid’s next dental appointment, then just ask! The best way to ensure your child keeps a healthy smile is to coordinate with your dentist in overseeing proper oral care.

Breakfast Cereal & Children’s Dental Care

In a few of our posts now, we’ve mentioned the importance of healthy eating in children’s dental care. As busy parents, we understand that getting your children ready for school can sometimes be a challenge all on its own! Cereal for breakfast is always a great option for a busy morning but Midland Dentistry 4 Kids wants to give you some information on how you can choose a good breakfast cereal for your child. We’d hate for you to unknowingly undo all of the hard work you put into teaching your children good dental habits with a breakfast cereal full of sugar!

More Sugar Than a Twinkie

According to a recent report, Sugar in Children’s Cereals by Environmental Working Group, one cup of any of 44 different children’s cereal–including Honey Nut Cheerios, Apple Jacks, and Cap’n Crunch–have more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies. The top contender for most sugar, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, has more sugar in a one cup serving than a Twinkie! We can’t imagine that you would feed your children dessert for breakfast in the morning but if you are feeding them some of the cereals listed below, that would be exactly what you are doing!

10 Worst Children’s Cereals: Based on percent of sugar by weight

  1. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks: 55.6%
  2. Post Golden Crisp: 51.9%
  3. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow: 48.3%
  4. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries: 46.9%
  5. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original: 44.4%
  6. Quaker Oats Oh!s: 44.4%
  7. Kellogg’s Smorz: 43.3%
  8. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks: 42.9%
  9. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries : 42.3%
  10. Kellogg’s Fruit Loops Original: 41.4%

Healthy Alternatives

Here is list of some good choices for children’s cereal that won’t leave your kid’s dental visit filled with cavity repair!

6 Good Big-Brand Children’s Cereals

  1. Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite- Size
  2. Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Frosted Big Bite
  3. Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Frosted Bite-Size
  4. Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Frosted Little Bite
  5. General Mills Cheerios Original
  6. General Mills Kix Original

Some other good options that aren’t children’s cereal, but may still have a good appeal to kids are Quaker Oats Oatmeal Squares Cinnamon and Post Honey Bunches of Oats with Vanilla Bunches.

Looking for More than Games on the Box

As a parent, you can help protect your children’s teeth by reading the labels on the boxes of cereal and looking out for these three items:

  1. Cereals with a short ingredient list (added vitamins and minerals are okay)
  2. Cereals high in fiber
  3. Cereals with few or no added sugars–including honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, high- fructose corn syrup and malt syrup

Cereals that meet these criteria can usually be found on the top shelves of the cereal aisle. They are harder to reach and not at eye level but are often less expensive.

 

We hope we’ve given you some great insight into the sugary world of children’s cereal! Don’t forget to brush, floss and rise regularly!

Dental Sedation for Children

Children’s Dentists work hard to make sure every child has a pleasant experience during their visit. A bad experience at an early age can lead to a lifetime of fear and delayed dental care. Typically children only need reassurance and encouragement for routine examinations and simple treatments. However, occasionally they may need a more complicated procedure. In order to keep them comfortable and quiet to ensure their safety during the procedure, your dentist may recommend sedation.

There are several sedation methods that have been shown to be safe for children. Depending on the procedure and the age of the child, your dentist will recommend the appropriate approach.

Oral sedation is a syrup or pill that your child will swallow that will make him or her sleepy, allowing the dentist to perform the necessary treatment. Once you arrive for your appointment, the dentist or a licensed staff member will administer the medication, which starts to work in about 20 minutes. Your child should not have anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before receiving oral sedation and you will need to limit his activities for a while once he returns home.

The most frequently used method of sedation for kids is nitrous oxide or laughing gas. Your child’s dentist will place a mask over your child’s nose; many kid’s dentists have fun masks like a “space mask” or “clown nose” to help your child feel comfortable with the device. The nitrous oxide is often scented like candy or fruit and is mixed with oxygen. When your child breathes the gas, he or she will feel happy, “tingly” and relaxed during the procedure. Once the procedure is over, your dentist will give your child pure oxygen to breathe for a few minutes to get all the traces of gas out of his or her system.

In some situations, your dentist may recommend IV sedation, which involves inserting a needle into the child’s vein. This produces a deeper level of sedation. If your child is receiving IV sedation, you will get special instructions to prepare your child for the procedure and for care at home. IV Sedation is only provided under the guidance of a licensed Anesthesiologist.

Sedation is a useful tool for certain dental procedures. Your family dentist will discuss methods with you to keep your child comfortable and safe if he or she requires a complex treatment.

Mouthwashing, Flossing & Kids

child flossingTo most adults regular use of floss and mouthwash can seem like something particular to being grown up, but did you know that even young children’s primary teeth need flossing and rinsing?

It may not seem so obvious at first, but when you consider that flossing and rinsing is mainly to prevent tooth decay and disease it makes sense that a child’s baby teeth should be cared for just the same as adult teeth.

Not only is it important to prevent early decay and promote your kid’s active interest in their dental hygiene, but helping your child keep a healthy mouth at an early stage will allow for their adult teeth to come in without any complications.

Learning to floss and rinse can be quite easy, but at what ages should kids start to do these things on their own?

Typically parents will help their child to floss until around age 8 or 9, and can begin to supervise their use of mouthwashes starting at age 6 or 7.

In these stages it’s important to demonstrate clear and concise cleaning techniques. Flossing can seem confusing or overexertive for young kids and rinsing can sometimes become swallowing.

For younger kids there are mouthwashes available that are less harmful when swallowed by accident to prevent any major mistakes in early learning.

Also available are formulas that will change colors when they encounter common plaque. This can help to show your kid just how effective the rinsing is when they spit it out.

Both flossing and mouthwashing take up very little time but are key to easily maintaining a healthy smile, so remember to floss and rinse and help your kids to do the same!

As always if you have any questions or inquiries concerning your child’s dental healthcare please feel free to ask our professional and knowledgable staff!

Take Care! Smile Big! -Midland Dentistry 4 Kids

Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy

baby with finger in teethIt’s no secret that your child’s teeth are most vulnerable at an early stage and need special attention, but what are some things you can do to be proactive about protecting them?

Some parents aren’t aware that their child’s baby teeth can carry infection to the permanent teeth when they start to come in. To prevent this it’s important we teach our children to practice good brushing habits that not only stop any potential disease or infection, but that also carry on to having healthy teeth later in life too.?

In our past few blogs we’ve given some tips on how to maintain healthy teeth. Dr. Joel Berg, who is president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, would surely agree with many of these tips especially the most obvious: brushing regularly and eating healthy!

In an interview where both Dr. Berg and his esteemed colleague Fern Ingber (president of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation) voice their top tips for children’s oral health, they maintain that early dental visits as well as making fun out of dentistry are key to a child’s overall oral health.

At Midland Dentistry 4 Kids we aim to do exactly that! We believe that happy smiles are the best smiles!

What better way to take part in promoting your child’s good habits by making their dental visits a fun experience and bringing them to Midland Dentistry 4 Kids!

Tips For A Healthier Mouth Pt. 2

Greetings and Happy Monday to all our fellow oral enthusiasts! Today we continue with a few more tips for maintaining a healthy smile.

If you missed the last blog you can catch the first 5 tips here!

More Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Smile

Drink Less Soda

The obvious reason behind this is because soda contains so much sugar that enough of it is truly counter-productive when it comes to fighting off oral germs; however, this isn’t the only reason soda is an enemy to your teeth!

Even diet sodas (yes the ones without sugar!) can be harmful to your teeth because soda (again – not just the non-diet ones) contains loads of acid that damages your tooth enamel over time.

Cutting back by just 1-2 sodas a day can gradually make all the difference in maintaining a healthy smile, so skip the pop and substitute it for something healthier in general – like juice!

More Fluoride!

Fluoride is a dental wonder and has been proven to help fight tooth decay and strengthen enamel, so why not take advantage?

Too much fluoride isn’t the best for you either, but investing in toothpaste and mouth rinse that includes fluoride is plenty to keep the right balance between too little and too much, so long as you aren’t doing regular fluoride rinses as well.

Use it in moderation, but definitely don’t overlook it!

Sugar-Free Gum

A long time ago chewing gum was actually something you would want to avoid to keep your mouth at its healthiest, but with the advances of sugar-free gum its quickly become just the opposite.

Gum can help keep your teeth strong as well as help to dislodge any food particles that may be collecting icky bacteria in your mouth.

As an added bonus, gum helps to promote saliva production which is what naturally rinses your mouth out throughout the day.

Extra Tip: always keep your mouth moist! A dry mouth collects and harbors germs much easier than a moist one.

Brush Your Tongue

For some of us more than others bad breath can be a major problem sometimes. Did you know that your tongue (not just your teeth!) actually forms a layer of it’s own plaque and bacteria over time if not maintained properly?

Be sure to give the back of your tongue a scrub here and there as you finish brushing your teeth. It does a great deal in helping to reduce overall oral bacteria as well as combating halitosis.

Protect Your Smile – Literally!

This tip is more suited for children (but applies to adults as well of course), especially those who actively participate in sports: wear a mouth guard.

Injuries happen to all of us, and when we least expect it, so investing in a mouth guard for contact sports or recreational sports (skating, etc.) where one can fall down and/or potentially hit their mouth is the best safety precaution.

Mouth guards can also be useful in preventing enamel damage for those who grind their teeth while sleeping.

 

That’s all for today, but stay tuned for more tips in the future! Until then, keep these ideas in mind and always remember to brush daily!

Tips For A Healthier Mouth: Pt. 1

Here at Midland Dentistry 4 Kids we know that when it comes to keeping a whiter, healthier smile that we’re not the only ones who play a role!

It’s extremely important to be proactive about keeping your teeth clean if you want to maintain a healthy smile, so we’ve compiled a few tips for you to follow to make sure you’re always doing your part in the battle against plaque, tooth decay, enamel decay, etc.

5 Tips to Maintain Healthy Teeth

Brush 2-3 Minutes

It may be repeated often, but brushing your teeth for the proper amount of time is crucial to keeping your teeth clean and avoiding unnecessary trips to the dentist’s office.

We recommend 2-3 minutes of brushing. Certainly not any less, but not necessarily more either. It’s good to balance the amount of scrubbing you do on your teeth daily.

Which leads us to our next tip…

Moderation

Overbrushing, or not brushing your teeth enough, is more destructive than you might think.

Doing so can either cause your tooth enamel to be damaged over time, or if you’re not brushing enough you’re most likely collecting a lot of unwanted bacteria and plaque in your mouth, yuck!

It’s recommended that adults and kids brush their teeth 1-2 times each day, but no more than 3!

Eat Crispy Vegetables/Fruits

Another healthy way to keep your smile shining is to be healthier in your diet! There are a multitude of fruits and vegetables that have the unique ability to scrub the surface of your teeth with their abrasive like properties and keep them clean throughout the day.

Some of these fruits and veggies include: apples, raw carrots, celery sticks, etc. You can even substitute non-buttered popcorn as it is also considered a “detergent” food.

So snack away! But don’t forget about…

Mouthwashing After Snacks

One of the most important ways to keep your mouth healthy is to keep food from becoming lodged or stuck in between the teeth and gums.

Once stuck, the food collects more and more bacteria over time and increases your chance of developing minor cavities and plaque build-up in hard to reach areas.

The quickest way to remove food and build-up is to mouthwash once or twice daily in between major meals or after snacks.

Flossing works just as well, if not better, but if you feel something get stuck never just leave it be – grab a toothpick, some floss or rinse your mouth briefly to clean it out as soon as possible.

Create a Routine

There are so many tips to keep your teeth clean and avoid non-regular visits to your local dentist, but probably the most important of all is to develop a routine.

Making a habit out of when you brush your teeth, how often you floss, and paying mind to maintaining their beauty is essential to keeping them healthy throughout your lifetime.

Most of us brush both morning and night as we get in and out of bed, but for some this isn’t always the most feasible routine. Find out what times work best for you to be able to properly brush and rinse and start making it a habit to do it daily at those times.

The goal is to make maintaining a healthy smile more of a subconscious activity than something you have to think about constantly in order to achieve!

 

These are just a few easy tips for being your own dentist while we’re not in the picture!

We’ll be back in our next blog with a few more so be on the lookout!

What Are The Side Effects of Poor Oral Health?

Greetings! I’d like to discuss a topic that will help educate all the parents out there. That topic is the potential side effects of poor oral health. There is a misunderstanding by a portion of people that the worst case scenario for not taking care of your kid’s teeth is a mouthful of cavities. As bad as that is, the real consequences of poor oral health can be much, much worse.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I have included an out take from a Texas publication that summarized the potential side effects very well. I like this more than most other reports because it breaks down the side effects into three different categories: economic, medical and social. The report is called “Can Texas Afford Not To Care About Oral Health” and can be found at this link is no longer available and cannot be made available from a secure source so it has been deprecated.. I’ve highlighted the portions that are most applicable to children.

1. Economic consequences of untreated oral disease. Untreated oral disease has serious economic consequences. The surgeon general estimates that children with oral disease miss over 51 million hours of school each year. Missing school not only disrupts student learning, it also directly affects local school funding, since the amount of state dollars a school in Texas receives is based in part on weighted average daily attendance. Untreated dental disease is extremely painful and affects a person’s productivity at work. According to the surgeon general, employed adults lose an estimated 164 million hours of work due to oral health problems or dental visits each year. What’s more, adults with visible dental problems are less employable and sometimes reluctant to seek employment because they are simply ashamed to open their mouths. Untreated oral diseases can also drive up health care costs in general. Left untreated, certain dental infections can become systemic and damage other parts of the body, resulting in the need for expensive emergency department visits, hospital stays, anesthesia and antibiotics.

2. Medical consequences of untreated oral disease. Failure to treat oral diseases costs more than money. It can also seriously compromise a person’s general health and quality of life. The good news is that most oral diseases are preventable. The bad news is that left untreated, dental infections can enter the bloodstream and lead to serious and occasionally life threatening conditions. In fact, the International Classification of Diseases lists more than 120 systemic diseases that come from the oral cavity. Although the health care system often treats the mouth as separate and apart from the rest of the body, oral and general health are closely linked. What happens in the mouth can and does affect what happens in other parts of the body. An ever-expanding body of research supports possible associations between oral disease (particularly gum disease) and medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia. Researchers have also found evidence of the vertical transmission of bacteria causing oral disease between caregivers and very young children. And the mouth is increasingly being used to help identify other health conditions throughout the body, such as early stages of diabetes.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among American children, causing unnecessary pain, avoidable facial disfigurement and rarely but tragically, life-threatening infections. Early Childhood Caries (cavities among 2- to 5-year olds, also known as ECC) are increasingly common. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, “not only does ECC affect teeth, but consequences of this disease may lead to more widespread health issues.” Oral problems can also dramatically affect babies and toddlers with untreated cleft lip / palate (a congenital birth defect). Structural problems and chronic pain caused by the cleft lip/palate can make eating painful — inhibiting healthy growth and sometimes resulting in a condition known as “failure to thrive.”

3. Social consequences of untreated oral disease. Although difficult to quantify, the social consequences of poor oral health are also important. Children with untreated oral disease often have difficulty eating, speaking and sleeping. They may be ashamed of their appearance and have a hard time interacting with their peers. What’s more, children with pain from untreated cavities or other dental conditions may be distracted in school and unable to learn or participate. One study even found a link between oral health problems and low self-esteem, teen delinquency and adolescent pregnancy. Adults with visible dental problems also suffer. As described earlier, many are reluctant to seek employment because of how they look or sound when they try to speak.

Wow…that may be a lot to take in. How about some good news to make you feel better? That’s easy. How about three simple steps to minimize the chance of your children having to deal with any of the problems listed above? OK…here they are: brush, floss and see your dentist every six months. It’s as easy as that.

Hopefully, you found this information educational. If you’d like a discussion on any other topics, please feel free to send them to me at brentcroberts@gmail.com.

Thanks!
Dr. Brad Roberts