THE TRUTH ABOUT SOME COMMON DENTAL MYTHS

The profession of dentistry has experienced an amazing evolution over its lifetime. References to tooth decay can be found in various ancient texts. At one time, a local barber would provide haircuts and pull troublesome teeth in the same shop. Dentistry evolved from these humble beginnings to what we know today: a structured medical discipline where patients benefit from evidenced-based care. Oddly enough, though, several oral health myths and misconceptions have failed to fade away....

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SIMPLE STEPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR ORAL HEALTH

On the list of common reasons people avoid the dentist, cost is usually near the top. It is a fact — some dental treatments are expensive. However, you have some control in working to avoid pricey dental procedures. Two of the best ways to avoid needing expensive dental treatments are to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and cleaning and following proper dental hygiene advice every day.

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COMMON SLEEP DISORDER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE BODY

The National Sleep Foundation estimates over 18 million adults in the United States, or about one in every 15 people, suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interrupts breathing, resulting in disruptive sleep. Individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will experience a repetitive (partial or complete) airway collapse throughout their sleep, which prevents air from reaching the lungs.

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DENTAL CARIES ARE COMMAN BUT TREATABLE

The best steps to take to help children avoid tooth decay are to:



For children requiring treatment of dental disease, a remarkable number will receive care under general anesthesia in an operating room. With a substantial number of children needing an operating room appointment, depending on the area, patients may find themselves waiting until an otherwise restorable or savable tooth has become non-restorable due to the progression of decay during the wait. Additionally, dental infections and facial swelling may occur during this waiting period.


In pediatric dentistry, silver diamine fluoride (SDF) can be utilized to buy time until necessary treatment can be completed. SDF has been used internationally for decades and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014 for reducing tooth sensitivity. Dental providers have also found it helps address tooth decay. Providers may recommend applying SDF liquid to teeth to control active cavities and prevent further dental disease. SDF does not remove the need for dental restorative work such as fillings or a crown on teeth with present decay, but it can help avoid additional decay while treatment can be arranged and completed.


Applying SDF is a simple process that only requires a mirror, small brush, cotton rolls, air, SDF and fluoride varnish. It’s a painless process with no needle, drills or shots.


First, the tooth is cleaned with a toothbrush. Cotton rolls are then inserted into the mouth to keep the selected tooth dry. SDF liquid is applied to the decaying area with a small brush and allowed to dry for one minute. Some clinicians will also follow up with a fluoride varnish application over the SDF. After the application of SDF, patients should wait at least an hour before eating or drinking.


While SDF is beneficial because it prevents a cavity from progressing, it does have two disadvantages. The first is that in the area where SDF is applied, the decayed part will discolor until it turns black. This is a sign the medication is doing its job by stopping additional damage to the area and spreading throughout the mouth. Healthy teeth will not change colors, but already present dental fillings and crowns may be discolored if they come into contact with the solution. The other disadvantage of SDF is its metallic taste, similar to placing an old penny in your mouth. This taste will go away quickly, however.


Avoiding dental problems is the primary goal. Should decay be present in a child’s mouth, depending on the situation, SDF may offer a means of helping to keep the issue from growing worse until treatment can be finalized.     

DR. KELLY DINGRANDO

Dr. Kelly Dingrando is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. As a pediatric dentist, her interests are in preventing tooth decay, dental public health issues and educating the next generation of dentists. More information about UK Dentistry is available at www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu/dentistry.

more articles by dr Kelly Dingrando

Did you know tooth decay in children is four times more common than asthma? In fact, one of the most prevalent childhood diseases is dental caries, a process where the presence of bacteria in the mouth leads to the weakening of protective tooth enamel, which in turn can lead to tooth decay.


One in every seven children in America ages 2 to 8 years has untreated cavities. By age 5, about 60 percent of children will be affected by tooth decay. Children in Kentucky are far from immune from this issue.


For elementary school-aged children, tooth pain is the No. 1 cause for missing school. Even when children are in school, dental-related pain can negatively affect learning. Beyond tooth pain, tooth decay can lead to sometimes life-threatening infections in the body. In fact, dental-related issues, such as tooth decay-related problems, are leading causes of emergency room visits and hospitalization in young children.


Besides avoiding dental pain, which may affect learning and other activities, keeping baby or primary teeth in good condition is important for various health and developmental reasons. Primary teeth help children chew food and speak, and they hold space for the arrival of the permanent teeth.