Teeth and Dental Health Is In the News and the Best Good News is Less Dentist Drilling Is In All of Our Futures, Especially Grandchildren

tooth brushOne of this Grandma’s favorite gifts to buy the grandchildren is a new battery operated toothbrush.  We adults know that we should replace a toothbrush every six months as our mouths are germ machines, and the best way to have our grandchildren do so is buy them a new toothbrush.  Also, grandchildren do not necessarily brush their teeth well and an electric toothbrush does the work for them and sometimes has them brushing longer than they would otherwise.  Children’s electric or battery toothbrushes come in every color, superhero or television favorite you can imagine.  Take a look at Amazon:

The reason I like buying a new toothbrush is that I think I am helping the grandchildren’s health as well as bringing a visit present.  So, I started also buying children’s flossers as it is hard enough to get the grandchildren to brush their teeth, much less floss.  Most do not know how to properly floss, and the children’s flossers have handles and make it easier.  Take a look at Amazon:

The New York Times is my go to read, and it seems that teeth and dental health are a favorite topic for them to cover.  The new news may come to a surprise to us Boomer Grandmas.  However, the “take-away” of all of the teeth and dental health news is that it depends if each of us is at high risk or low risk of cavities, gum disease and other ails that may affect the health of our teeth.  But, I will keep the best news for last, for us and our grandchildren.

In “Baby Teeth Deserve Care While They’re There, By Catherine Saint Louis, April 1, 2016, she reaffirms that although baby teeth fall out, good dental care for babies is important for lifelong dental health.  She points out that nearly one quarter of all children between the ages of two and five have cavities, and brushing and limiting sweets, especially sugary drinks is important.  She cites two studies:

“Preschoolers who have cavities in their baby teeth are three times as likely as other preschool children to develop cavities in their permanent teeth, according to an often-quoted study published in the Journal of Dental Research in 2002. A 5-year-old’s oral health can even predict greater decay and disease at 26, especially for poor children, another study found.”

“This may be caused partly by not brushing with fluoride twice daily and sipping sugary drinks over long periods. But it’s also because the bacteria that causes cavities, called caries, signify an infectious disease. So even if one decayed, brown-mottled tooth falls out, an infection may continue ravaging that child’s mouth.”

Gross!  And when do we know if a child should be allowed to brush rather than an adult brushing for them or helping?  She reports that it is about the same time they can tie their own shoes.  Another chore for parents and grandparents to do for more years than we thought!

This Grandma noted that flossing was not part of the previous article.  And sure enough, recently, there was an article in the New York Times, “Feeling guilty about not flossing? Maybe there’s no need,” by the same author, Catherine Saint Louis, on August 03, 2016.  She reports that “[w]hen the federal government issued its 2016 dietary guidelines, the flossing recommendation had been removed.”  It seems that there are few studies or randomized controlled clinical trials about the effectiveness of flossing to prevent cavities, prevent gingivitis, periodontal disease, and keep gums healthy, and “[r]esearchers could locate no studies on the effectiveness of flossing combined with teeth brushing for cavity prevention.”

Ms. Saint Louis reports however:

“The American Dental Association’s website says, “Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” A spokesman for group, Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a professor of restorative dentistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, said last year, “We’re confident that disturbing the bacteria in plaque with brushing and flossing is, indeed, beneficial.”

So, parents and grandparents can seem to relax if we cannot get grandchildren to floss.  This Grandma has not flossed for years.  I found something that works like the children’s flossers.  I confirmed with my dentist and dental hygienist that GUM soft-picks between teeth cleaners are fine instead of lossing, and my teeth and gums are as good as ever.  The soft-picks are like soft toothpicks, and I carry them everywhere.   Find at Amazon:

Now that we are learning our dental hygiene protocol has gotten easier, we also hear, “You Probably Don’t Need Dental X-Rays Every Year, from Austin Frakt, in the New York Times, July 25, 2016.  Again, this depends on whether one takes proper care of the teeth and have no symptoms of dental disease or cavities.  If so, we might be able to go two or three years between x-rays.

For our grandchildren?  Mr. Frakt reports:

“The interval between X-rays is determined by the rate at which cavities develop. Typically, it takes about two years or more for cavities to penetrate adult teeth enamel. The rate is faster for children, so the recommended bite wing intervals are shorter for them.”

“However, children with adequately spaced primary (baby) teeth and no cavities do not need any dental X-rays. Older children with a low propensity for cavities can go 18 months to three years between bite wing X-rays. Those at the highest risk may need them more frequently.”

And, we also may not need to go to the dentist as often.  In “Rethinking the Twice-Yearly Dentist Visit,” the author who seems to specialize in all things dental as usual, Catherine Saint Louis, June 10, 2016, reports that instead of that twice annual dental visit “a new study finds that annual cleanings may be adequate for adults without certain risk factors for periodontal disease while people with a high risk may need to go more often.”

This Grandma goes for quarterly teeth cleanings, and has done so for as long as I can remember.  I can hear GG (great grandfather), the dentist, saying to take care of the teeth you want to keep.  I want to keep all of them.

Then, this Grandma intentionally kept the best dental news for last.  Catherine Saint Louis, in

“A Cavity-Fighting Liquid Lets Kids Avoid Dentists’ Drills, July 11, 2016, reports on the best dental invention yet, an alternative to getting cavities and having them filed: “an antimicrobial liquid that can be brushed on cavities to stop tooth decay — painlessly.”

“The liquid is called silver diamine fluoride, or S.D.F. It’s been used for decades in Japan, but it’s been available in the United States, under the brand name Advantage Arrest, for just about a year. . . .Dr. Richard Niederman, the chairman of the epidemiology and health promotion department at the New York University College of Dentistry, said, “Being able to paint it on in 30 seconds with no noise, no drilling, is better, faster, cheaper. “I would encourage parents to ask for it,” he added. “It’s less trauma for the kid.”

Of course, although relatively inexpensive and cheaper than filling a cavity,  it is not a perfect solution for us and our grandchildren.

“The main downside is aesthetic: Silver diamine fluoride blackens the brownish decay on a tooth. That may not matter on a back molar or a baby tooth that will fall out, but some patients are likely to be deterred by the prospect of a dark spot on a visible tooth.”

But it is wonderful, according to Ms. Saint Louis.

“Silver diamine fluoride has another advantage over traditional treatment: It kills the bacteria that cause decay. A second treatment applied six to 18 months after the first markedly arrests cavities, studies have shown.”

“S.D.F. reduces the incidence of new caries and progression of current caries by about 80 percent,” said Dr. Niederman, who is updating an evidence review of silver diamine fluoride published in 2009.  Fillings, by contrast, do not cure an oral infection.”

So, pass this post along to the parents of your grandchildren, and because adults can use it too, next time you go to the dentist, ask for Advantage Arrest, the decay-fighting fluid, silver diamine fluoride, to be painted on your teeth too and make that second appointment for six months thereafter for a second dose.





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