Friday, May 10th, 2013
Pregnant women who are in need of dental care too often find themselves facing obstacles including refusal to treat or a delay in treatment. The issue is due to a number of reasons, ranging from lack of oral health attention from OB-GYNs to outdated ideas among dentists that it’s not safe to treat pregnant women. The New York Times reports:
The problem among dentists is decades old. Many “were taught in dental school that you can’t treat a pregnant woman,” said Dr. Renee Samelson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albany Medical Center, who was an editor of the first guidelines on oral health in pregnancy, which were published by the New York State Department of Health and advised on two more sets of guidelines. Dentists simply erred on the side of caution, she added: “There was no evidence of harm.”
Today, although dental treatment during pregnancy is considered beneficial, some dentists still hesitate to see pregnant women, because they fear litigation or harm to the fetus, or their knowledge of appropriate care lags behind the current evidence. One 2009 survey of 351 obstetrician gynecologists nationwide found 77 percent reported their patients had been “declined dental services because of pregnancy.”
“A lot of dentists still fear treating pregnant women, and think, ‘What happens if I have to do an X-ray?’ or ‘What happens if I give antibiotics or local anesthesia?’” said Dr. Howard Minkoff, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. “None of these are legitimate reasons not to provide appropriate care for women.”
Since 2006, a few state organizations and dental associations have issued practice guidelines declaring that dental care is safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy, including diagnostic X-rays, cavity restorations and root canals.
OB-GYNs should check for bleeding gums or oral infection and refer a patient to a dentist if her last visit was longer than six months ago, according to the first national consensus statement on dental care during pregnancy, published in September by the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center at Georgetown University.
The statement advised dentists to provide emergency care in any trimester. OB-GYNs can be consulted, as necessary, if a pregnant patient is diabetic or hypertensive, or if general anesthesia is required.
Image: Dentist with woman, via Shutterstock
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Friday, April 5th, 2013
Having wisdom teeth removed can be a rite of passage in the teen or young adult years. But a new study has found that children who get shots of anesthetic for dental work may not grow lower wisdom teeth. More from NBC News:
The findings, published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, suggest it might be possible to deliberately prevent the development of the often-troublesome teeth, the team at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine said.
“It is intriguing to think that something as routine as local anesthesia could stop wisdom teeth from developing,” says Dr. Anthony Silvestri, who oversaw the study.
The team just looked at children being treated at Tufts, and they only have a few hundred records, so the findings would have to be repeated in a larger group of children to be sure. But they suggest it might be possible to apply an already widely used medication to prevent the development of a common tooth problem.
As many as 5 million Americans get their wisdom teeth pulled every year. Medically known as third molars, these very back teeth usually emerge in the late teens or early 20s and they can sometimes cause trouble, pushing against other teeth. They are also difficult to clean and can become decayed.
Image: Child at dentist, via Shutterstock
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Monday, February 4th, 2013
The popular squeezable baby food snacks that allow babies and toddlers to suck pureed food directly form foil pouches may actually be harmful to growing teeth, according to a statement from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). The new statements about the pouches, which were launched in 2008 by Plum Organics and now are made by a number of baby food brands, makes similar recommendations to what the AAPD already says about babies who walk around with milk- or juice-filled sippy cups. More from NPR.org:
“The constant exposure of sugar on their teeth is detrimental,” says Paul Casamassimo, the oral health research and policy center director at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “My concern would be if the child walks around with this little pouch, then they might be doing the same thing,” he says.
In fact, the academy recommends ditching the sippy cup and going straight from bottle to cup between 12 and 15 months because of the potential risk of tooth decay. Casamassimo calls them “baby bottle methadone.”
Carbohydrates in all foods are used by bacteria to produce acid, and the acid eats away at the enamel of the teeth, creating the potential for cavities — a growing problem among all children, he says.
And the pouch food, because of its consistency, may be particularly tough on teeth if it’s allowed to sit there for long periods. “We know that tends to stick on teeth and prolong the opportunity for the bacteria to build,” he says.
Brushing kids’ teeth twice a day and making them rinse with water after eating the pouch foods or drinking juice can help, Cassamassimo says.
Image: Smiling toddler, via Shutterstock
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Monday, August 22nd, 2011
The Boston Globe is reporting on new information about how cavities affect children’s health, and pediatric dentists’ growing efforts to educate the public about a link between cavities and a chronic bacterial disease called caries:
While cavities are on the decline in the general population, they are a fact of life for increasing numbers of young children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They affect 10 percent of 2-year-olds and over half of 5-year-olds, causing everything from minor toothaches to missed school days to complications that require major surgery. But dentists say few people realize that cavities are symptoms of dental caries, the most common chronic disease in children today, according to the CDC.
Caries is caused by a transmissible bacteria that produces acids in the mouth when we eat anything with carbohydrates, including sugary or starchy foods. Those acids dissolve the teeth, and without good oral health practices, they can lead to tooth decay – cavities. But cavities are preventable if the underlying caries is managed.
Parents can take some simple steps to stave off caries, in addition to practicing good dental hygeine like brushing regularly and avoiding sugary snacks, especially gummy candies that can stick to teeth. From the Globe:
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Although we aren’t born with the bacteria that causes caries, most kids will get it at some point – by sharing a lollipop or a drink with a classmate, for instance. But the later they get the bacteria, the less likely they are to develop severe caries.
That means caregivers who have ever had cavities should take simple precautions with their babies. They shouldn’t put a baby’s spoon or pacifier in their own mouths before giving it to the baby, for instance.
They should also take children to the dentist before age 1 to determine their risk factors for caries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
(image via: http://box4kids.blogspot.com)