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Entries in Oral Hygiene (3)

Thursday
Jul192012

‘Teach Me How to Brushy’ Promotes Oral Health

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- “Pull out your string and it’s time to get your flossy on/Get at the food make your gums grow up nice and strong (yeah)/ … All my teeth love me because I do the brushy.”

So go the lyrics to “Teach Me How to Brushy (sung to the tune of Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie”),” a new PSA launched by the Oregon Dental Association.

Cute kids dance around, brushing and flossing, explaining the awesomeness of oral hygiene in the minute-long video.

“We wanted to create a fun, interactive tool parents can use to get their kids excited about good dental habits,” Oregon Dental Association President-elect Dr. Jill Price, said in a statement. “The mouth is a major health center in the body; unhealthy mouths can lead to diabetes, heart issues, and worse. But rather than lecture parents and expect that lecture to reach their kids, we wanted to create a hub for good facts that families will actually want to check out.”

The association also created a Facebook page that includes quick facts and FAQs regarding dental health, particularly in children. The organization invited parents and kids to create their own “Teach Me How to Brushy” to submit to the association.

Nearly 17 million U.S. children fail to see a dentist every year, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.

Dr. Jonathan D. Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta, Maine, and an American Dental Association spokesperson, called the PSA, “great” and noted one of the biggest challenges dentists face is emphasizing the importance of consistently brushing one’s teeth.

“There is nothing better that a person can do for their oral health than brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste,” said Shenkin. “This video is great because it’s appealing to a younger audience. A lot of people aren’t serious about their health overall, which can coincide with their oral health, so this is a great way to motivate people.”

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Tuesday
Apr242012

16 Million Children on Medicaid Not Receiving Dental Care

Comstock/T​hinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With more than 16 million low-income U.S. children on Medicaid not receiving dental care in 2009, according to the Pew Center on the States, dentists and ERs say they are treating very young patients with teeth blackened from decay, bacteria and multiple cavities.

"I see it in their eyes before they tell me it's that way," Dr. Gregory Folse told ABC News. "We are able to intervene and take the pain away from their teeth and it brings the spark back. And that's my goal."

Folse's Outreach Dentistry mobile clinic travels to schools around Louisiana, filling cavities and teaching children and parents about the importance of oral hygiene.

In 2007, Congress held a hearing on the issue of children's dental health after Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old Maryland boy, died when a tooth infection spread to his brain. His mother, Alyce Driver, had been unable to find a dentist to treat him on Medicaid and could not afford to pay out of pocket.

At the time, Leslie Norwalk, then-acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called his death "a failure on many levels."

And although she said that these types of dental services were covered, many dentists said that Medicaid reimbursement rates are too low.

A study published in May 2011, demonstrated that despite efforts to boost the number of patients and providers in the Medicaid system, low-income families still had limited access to dental care -- except when they were able to pay cash.

The state of Florida got an F in children's dental health in a 2011 report from the Pew Center on the States. In 2009, according to Pew, only 25.7 percent of Florida children on Medicaid saw a dentist.

"The Medicaid rates are so low that dentists are not willing to participate in the Medicaid program," said Dr. Frank Catalanotto of the University of Florida, Gainesville, Community Dentistry. "You can't blame the dentists, really, because the cost of delivering the service is more than the reimbursement they receive."

Florida has some of the lowest rates. Ten pediatric dentists in four counties said they would not accept Medicaid -- even for a child whose face hurt. And more than half of Florida's counties -- 36 -- do not have one pediatric dentist who takes Medicaid, according to Pew.

Dentists say that ignoring teeth can mean life or death. An infection can kill or promote heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis. Children who do not receive dental care can suffer root canals and extractions before they reach 10-years-old.

At the Caridad Center in Boynton Beach, Fla., Falguni Patel, a first-year resident in pediatric dentistry, said it made her sad that there were certain groups of children who suffered more than others.

"People think just because you have insurance that you're going to have access to care -- which is not the whole story," she said. "They're very few pediatric dentists that accept Medicaid in this area, so these children have nowhere to go even if they do have insurance. ... It's a big problem."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Preschool Mouths: Dental Disaster Zones

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Preschoolers across the country are increasingly getting fillings and extractions for extensive dental decay, sometimes requiring surgery and general anesthesia in an operating room, pediatric dentists report.

The trend, seen in families both rich and poor, points to neglect driven by several factors. Despite decades of emphasis on eliminating tooth decay with fluoride toothpastes and frequent brushing, many parents aren’t getting the message that dental care begins when a child’s first tooth comes in, and that a child should be brushing with fluoride by age 2.

Parents of all income levels indulge young children in too many sugary snacks and sippy cups filled with sugar-laden fruit juices, dentists say. Too often, they put toddlers to bed with a bottle of juice or milk. Saliva levels go down overnight, making the mouth even more acidic and allowing sugars in the drinks to eat into tooth enamel for hours at a time.

As a result, dentists are fighting more aggressively to counter the resulting decay, often treating cavities in baby teeth before the bad bacteria can spread elsewhere in the body or harm the adult teeth forming below them in the jaw.

“The myth has been for years, these are just baby teeth, they’re just going to fall out anyway,” said Dr. Amr Moursi, chairman of pediatric dentistry at NYU’s College of Dentistry. Moursi said the need for dental operating rooms at NYU exceeds the supply, forcing dentists to compete with cardiac surgeons and neurosurgeons for operating room time, and forcing patients to wait three to six months to have their dental surgeries scheduled. In addition, he said, it’s hard to find pediatric dentists with operating room privileges, which further squeezes the ability to treat children in need.

“There’s not enough operating rooms in the country equipped to do dental work,” he said.

Severe neglect of a child’s oral health most often occurs among poor families “trying to make ends meet, pay the rent; it’s not a high priority,” Moursi said. However, dentists also are seeing a troublesome trend of lax parenting among more well-off mothers and fathers who don’t enforce brushing-after-meals rules.

As parenting styles have shifted, there has been evidence of changes that “sometimes include a de-emphasis on oral health or anything that the child doesn’t necessarily want, whether that’s bath time, or practicing the piano, or eating their vegetables,” Moursi said. “That’s when we have the conversation: You’re the parent and it’s in their best interest. We give them some techniques to make it easier.”

Just Tuesday morning, Dr. Jonathan D. Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta, Maine, found six small cavities between the teeth of a 4-year-old girl during her first-ever appointment with a dentist. The child should have been seen by her first birthday. The girl’s mother was at a loss to account for all the decay in her daughter’s mouth, telling Shenkin that she thought she had her children doing everything right: “We don’t drink soda. They brush their teeth twice a day.”

But when he asked if the family uses fluoride toothpaste, she responded that they had just started to use it.

“Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is the most important thing you can do,” he said. Next, parents must pay attention to what their children eat and drink. Numerous well-intentioned parents tell him they only give their children “all natural” products, thinking those somehow are better for their dental health. However, many fruit juices contain just as much sugar as sodas, he said.

Although dentists prefer to spend their time on prevention, a parent’s decision to wait until a child is in pre-school before making a dental appointment is too late to prevent tooth decay that already may have begun, Shenkin said. “The kids coming into our offices at this age already have it at this point. There’s no way to turn back.”

“The goal should always be to treat in the office if possible,” Shenkin said. “The last resort should be going into the operating room under general anesthesia.”

By and large, the children going to the operating room tend to be lower-income children, he said. “When we talk about tooth decay, 80 percent of the disease is in 20 percent of the population…usually the lowest income population. The need for anesthesia disproportionately affects the Medicaid population.”

Although there aren’t good statistics establishing the extent of preschoolers requiring extensive dental work, Moursi said he’s seen a dramatic rise in the number of children with “really severe decay” warranting operating room treatment.

During an interview, he said he’d just received a phone call from an NYU pediatric dental resident who had examined a 4-year-old with several cavities, including one that had caused major facial swelling. “The infection had gone through the tooth, down into the surrounding bone of the jaw and spread up into the face under the eye,” Moursi said.

The child was going to be treated with powerful antibiotics, but might still require a trip to the operating room to extract the tooth, he said. In rare cases, such dental infections can spread to the brain, or into the heart and lungs, he said.

“When you have a 6-month wait to get into the O.R. and they’re all 3-year-olds, we know we have a problem,” Moursi said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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