Posts Tagged ‘ oral health ’

Low Vitamin D During Pregnancy May Predict Cavities for Kids

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Mothers who have low vitamin D levels while they are pregnant may face more cavities when their kids are toddlers, according to a new study conducted by Canadian researchers. More from Reuters:

Previous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency among mothers can lead to defects in the enamel of their toddlers’ teeth – which have already begun to develop in the womb – and that these defects can increase the risk of tooth decay.

Dr. Robert J. Schroth from University of Manitoba’s dental school in Winnipeg and his team wondered whether low vitamin D levels in mothers during pregnancy would also translate into higher cavity rates for their toddlers.

They measured vitamin D levels in the second or early third trimester in 207 pregnant women and then examined the teeth of 135 of their children when they were an average of 16 months old. Mothers-to-be were recruited from a predominantly poor, urban area.

Women’s vitamin D levels were mostly in the normal range, but about a third had levels that were too low.

Depending on what definition of cavities the researchers used, 23 to 36 percent of the toddlers had cavities.

Prenatal vitamin D levels were significantly lower in women whose toddlers later had cavities than in women whose toddlers did not have cavities, according to findings published Monday in Pediatrics.

In fact, there was a direct relationship between low vitamin D levels in mothers and higher numbers of cavities in their toddlers.

Besides low vitamin D levels in mothers, defects in the tooth enamel were also associated with cavities in kids.

The researchers believe that improving nutrition during tooth formation and in early childhood could reduce the risk of cavities. They say, “Prevention efforts should begin during pregnancy by bolstering maternal nutrition, either through improved dietary intake or supplementation with vitamin D.”

Image: Toddler at the dentist, via Shutterstock

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New Dental Recommendation: Fluoride Toothpaste Before Age 2

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

The American Dental Association is now recommending that children begin using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste twice daily as soon as their first teeth appear.  This is a change from the previous guidelines, which had suggested brushing with water until age 2, when a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste could be used.  More on the new recommendation from The New York Times:

To fight the rising number of cavities in the very young, the dental group now advises getting a jump-start on prevention. However, they emphasize only the tiniest amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used to minimize the risk of mild discoloration, white spots or streaking of the teeth, a condition called fluorosis that is caused by ingesting fluoride toothpaste at a young age.

“We want to minimize the amount of fluoride consumption to reduce the risk of fluorosis while simultaneously adding a preventive tool for kids 2 and under that we haven’t recommended previously,” said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a spokesman for the A.D.A. and a pediatric dentist in Augusta, Me. Only a tiny amount of toothpaste should be smeared on the brush since some youngsters are likely to ingest some of the fluoride, he said.

The change comes after a systematic review of 17 studies published in The Journal of the American Dental Association this month. It concluded that scientific evidence, though limited in children under age 6 and more robust in older children, demonstrated that fluoride toothpaste is effective in controlling tooth decay, and that “the appropriate amount” should be used “by all children regardless of age.”

An early start is crucial, Dr. Shenkin said, because children with dental decay are at greater risk of developing cavities as adults. “By starting earlier, we can effectively reduce a lifetime of disease for a lot of kids.”

Dr. Man Wai Ng, the dentist in chief at Boston Children’s Hospital, applauded the new recommendation and said, “It’s a great thing for parents to know: ‘Use a tiny amount of fluoride, and brush two times a day to counter the effects of frequent snacking.’”

Most of the children she sees with tooth decay are using “a training toothpaste without fluoride,” she said.

The new A.D.A. guidelines stress that children should spit out toothpaste as soon as they are able, but not being able to spit does not preclude the use of a rice-grain-size bit of fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride is controversial in some circles, amid allegations–based, medical officials say, on questionable science–that fluoride is a carcinogen and can lower children’s IQs.  In 2012, New Jersey was embroiled in the controversy when it considered legislation that would require each town in the state to fluoridate its water.

What kind of behaviors can you expect from your growing toddler? Take our quiz to find out!

Dental Experts Remind Parents, Toddlers Need to Visit Dentist by Age 1
Dental Experts Remind Parents, Toddlers Need to Visit Dentist by Age 1
Dental Experts Remind Parents, Toddlers Need to Visit Dentist by Age 1

Image: Child’s toothbrush, via Shutterstock

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Dental Care Difficult to Come by for Pregnant Women

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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Flouride in Water Raises Health Concerns for Some in New Jersey

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Residents of New Jersey are embroiled in a debate over whether the state should require each town to fluoridate its water, something that almost every other state does as a matter of routine.  The New York Times reports on the debate between medical groups, who say that fluoride is the best way to prevent tooth decay in children, and opponents who make arguments–based, officials say, on questionable science–including that fluoride is a carcinogen and it lowers I.Q. in children.

From the Times:

Similar bills have failed in the state since 2005, under pressure from the public utilities lobby and municipalities that argue that fluoridation costs too much, environmentalists who say it pollutes the water supply, and antifluoride activists who argue that it causes cancer, lowers I.Q. and amounts to government-forced medicine.

Public health officials argue that the evidence does not support any of those arguments — and to the contrary, that fluoridating the water is the single best weapon in fighting tooth decay, the most prevalent disease among children.

But they also say they are fighting a proliferation of misleading information. While conspiracy theories about fluoride in public water supplies have circulated since the early days of the John Birch Society, they now thrive online, where anyone, with a little help from Google, can suddenly become a medical authority.

“In the age of the Internet, it’s very easy to spread many of these rumors,” said Barbara F. Gooch, the associate director for science in the Oral Health Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “People go looking for information about why this is bad, and they find it pretty easily.”

So while William Bailey, the acting director of the Oral Health Division and the chief dental officer of the United States Public Health Service, calls it “the ideal public health measure,” opponents online argue the unproven allegation that the Nazis used fluoride to sedate concentration camp victims.

Image: Girl brushing her teeth, via Shutterstock.

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