pediatric dentist ft myers

What are Dental Sealants and Does My Child Need Them?

Dental sealants are a quick, easy, and relatively cheap (as opposed to the dentist bills you’ll accumulate for root canals) solution for preventing cavities.  Although the idea behind sealants is not new, they’re quickly becoming the go-to treatment for kids who need extra help in the dental department.

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“WHAT ARE DENTAL SEALANTS?”

Sealants are a plastic material that is placed in the pits and fissures of the chewing surfaces of your teeth, particularly the molars at the back because toothbrushes can’t reach all the way into the grooves to clean well.

“WHO NEEDS DENTAL SEALANTS?”

Kids are notoriously bad brushers and tend to ignore the problem areas in the back of the mouth that lead to cavities and decay, making them the prime target market for sealants.  (However, if adults have certain problem areas that could be cured with sealants, this could be an option for them too.) The American Dental Association recommends that kids receive dental sealants as soon as their adult teeth erupt.

Those who are more susceptible to cavities and decay – whether that is because they are genetically prone to cavities, don’t have great oral hygiene habits, or lack access to dental care – should consider getting dental sealants as a preventative measure.

“HOW DO DENTAL SEALANTS WORK?”

Dental sealants fill in and smooth out the grooves and fissures in your teeth that tend to hide food particles and attract cavity-causing bacteria. According to the American Dental Association, sealants work by “’sealing out’ food and plaque… [because] toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves.”

“HOW LONG DO DENTAL SEALANTS LAST?”

Dental sealants can protect the teeth for up to 10 years, but need to be checked frequently by a dentist for cracks.  If dental sealants are worn down, it’s possible for decay to get under the sealant.

“ARE DENTAL SEALANTS EFFECTIVE?”

Dental sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of cavities in the teeth that are covered.  According to Jonathan Shenkin, a spokesman for the American Dental Association, decades of research demonstrate that coating the biting surface of 6-year molars with a resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by up to nearly 80% immediately, and up to 60% for four years or more.

“WHY DON’T ALL CHILDREN GET DENTAL SEALANTS?”

The American Dental Association recommends that kids receive dental sealants as soon as their adult teeth erupt, but less than 40% of dentists actually comply.  Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 20% of children at poverty level and 40% of kids from higher income homes actually get the sealants.

A spokesman for the ADA and dentist himself, Jonathan Shenkin, said, “The lack of dentists doing sealants is a very silent, and probably the most significant, issue to care we face among children.  Parents should be asking for sealants and not taking no for an answer.”

So why are some parents still slow to punch?  There’s been a lot of debate over the effectiveness and safety of dental sealants.

“ARE DENTAL SEALANTS SAFE?”

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard the buzzword “BPA” quite a few times in recent years.  The biggest factor in the general safety of dental sealants is Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, which is a resin used in many types of plastics.  There is some evidence that BPA can be harmful to a child’s health, but it’s not conclusive.  This evidence cites BPA is a hormone disruptor and one study tied prenatal exposure to BPA with hyperactivity and anxiety in babies, especially girls.  In July of 2013, the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles and children’s drinking cups.

Dental sealants themselves don’t contain BPA, but many of them contain compounds that turn into BPA when they come in contact with saliva.  However, professionals claim that “the amount of exposure is extremely low” and can be reduced even further.  By scrubbing and rinsing sealants after they are applied, 88% to 95% of the compounds that can turn into BPA are eliminated.

The jury is still out on this one, as some dentists say there isn’t enough BPA present to warrant any concern, while others maintain that you shouldn’t expose yourself to any level of BPA if possible.

The one thing they do agree on?  If you do opt for dental sealants, make sure to talk to your dentist first about scrubbing and rinsing the sealants thoroughly once they’re applied.

“DO ALL DENTAL SEALANTS CONTAIN BPA?”

This question is a bit tricky.  Manufacturers are not required to disclose all of the ingredients in their products, and many (somewhat falsely) claim to be BPA-free.  Dental sealants are plastic made from monomers that are derived from BPA, including bis-GMA and bis-DMA.  BPA itself is rarely used in dental sealants.  So in this sense, they are BPA-free.  However, once the sealants are worn down and exposed to saliva, BPA is created by a chemical reaction.

 “HOW MUCH DO DENTAL SEALANTS COST?”

As with all medical and dental treatments, the cost can vary depending upon the provider and your insurance.  Typically, cost is around $30 to $40 for each tooth and is covered by most dental insurance providers.

8 Ways to Improve Oral Health at Home

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1. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENTS MAKE BRUSHING FUN

Encourage your child to brush their teeth by making it a rewarding experience. Keep track of your child’s brushing habits throughout the week. Make sure to tell them “good job” after each time they brush. Get them excited about showing you their teeth by asking to see their bright white smile. If you are excited, your child will be excited too!

2. MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR

Brush your teeth with your children. Let them see you taking care of your smile. Children are more likely to follow healthy habits when they see their parents practicing healthy habits as well.

3. ENCOURAGE HEALTHY CHOICES

Don’t just teach your kids to brush their teeth, also teach them the importance of healthy eating.

4. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER DAILY

Stay hydrated, and drink the recommended amount of water each day.

5. EAT FIBER-RICH RAW FOODS

These massage gums and help clean teeth as you chew. They also increase salivation, which neutralizes acids and alkalis within the mouth. Foods that are fiber-rich include apples, carrots and cucumbers.

6. EAT OR DRINK CALCIUM RICH FOODS

Calcium helps to strengthen teeth and bones and is essential for growing children. Foods high in calcium include milk, cheese and yogurt.

7. SNACK ON NUTS

Nuts are rich in calcium, magnesium and phosphate, which are important nutrients for dental health. Great nuts to snack on include cashews, peanuts, almonds and walnuts.

8. BRUSH YOUR TEETH AFTER EATING MEAT

If meat fibers stuck in your teeth are left overnight, they can putrefy and release acids that will cause tooth decay.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers Brush the Plate Contest

FORT MYERS, Fla. (April 13, 2015) – Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD is offering an opportunity to children 13 years or under to ‘brush off the plate’ during a 2015 Ft. Myers Miracle game. The contest is free of charge and open to the general public.

“The Miracle are great family entertainment,” said Dr. Verwest. “We want to get people excited about dental care in a noninvasive and fun environment like the newly renovated CenturyLink Sports Complex”.

Multiple winners will be selected throughout the season and the contest will officially conclude in September. To enter to win (2) two tickets and the on field activity, visit www.drverwest.com/brush-the-plate-contest/.

The Fort Myers Miracle are the Class A Advanced minor league baseball affiliate of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball club. Since moving to Fort Myers in 1992, the Miracle have qualified for the Florida State League Playoffs eight times and won the Florida State League Championship in 2014. Home games are played at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex. For a game and events schedule, or more information, visit www.miraclebaseball.com.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD, continues to provide pediatric dental care to children for over 25 years. Areas of service include comprehensive dental exams, cleanings, composite fillings, dental hygiene education, extractions, fluoride treatments, sealants, sedation dentistry, space maintainers, x-rays and tooth nerve treatment. For more information, visit www.DrVerwest.com or (239) 482-2722.

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6 Long Term Health Effects of Poor Oral Hygiene

People generally agree that good oral hygiene is essential to overall good health.  But do you know why?

Unfortunately, many of us don’t.  We know there is a connection; we’re just not exactly sure how deep that connection is.

This lack of knowledge has undoubtedly led to the childhood dental disease epidemic that is currently running rampant in the US.  After all, if parents knew the long-term consequences of poor oral health, brushing and flossing would surely move to the top of the priority list.

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Here are just a handful of the dangers of poor oral hygiene:

  • Increased risk of heart attack – Oral bacteria and gum inflammation can lead to arterial inflammation, plaque build-up, and clotting.
  • Increased risk of stroke – Can cause plaque build-up in carotid arteries and clotting.
  • Increased risk of dementia – Studies show a relationship between people who lost more teeth before the age of 35 and an increased risk of dementia.
  • Severe diabetes mellitus – Severe periodontal disease often accompanies severe diabetes mellitus and is considered the 6th complication of diabetes.
  • Pregnancy complications – Increased risk of having a pre-term baby or baby with low birth weight.
  • Respiratory disease – Oral bacteria can be breathed into lungs and cause infections such as pneumonia or exacerbate existing conditions, such as COPD.

(Want the more scientific explanation? This article goes into more detail.)

While it is true that baby teeth will eventually fall out, it is NOT true that the unhealthiness will disappear wtih them.  Unhealthy baby teeth lead directly to unhealthy adult teeth – as well as the long list of complications to go along with them.

It might be a battle every night over brushing, but it’s definitely a battle you want to pick.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers sponsors Future of Art

FORT MYERS, Fla. (April 2, 2015) – Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD will be the exhibit sponsor for Future of Art at the Alliance for the Arts. Works of art created by elementary and middle school students across Lee County will be on display from March 30 to April 11 with an opening reception on Tuesday, April 7 from 5-7PM. Work created by high school students will then be exhibited with a second opening reception on Wednesday, April 15 from 5-7PM

Gallery Alliance for the Arts

“Our community always has come first. Being able to support local kids is what community engagement is all about,” said Dr. Verwest.

This is the 23rd year the Alliance has partnered with the Lee Arts Educators Association (LAEA) to provide students with an opportunity to display their artwork in a formal exhibit. This annual show features more than forty schools and hundreds of pieces of art in a wide variety of mediums.  Judges will select winners in several categories and award a Best in Show.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD, continues to provide pediatric dental care to children for over 25 years. Areas of service include comprehensive dental exams, cleanings, composite fillings, dental hygiene education, extractions, fluoride treatments, sealants, sedation dentistry, space maintainers, x-rays and tooth nerve treatment. For more information, visit www.DrVerwest.com or (239) 482-2722.

Motivating Kids to Care for Their Teeth

We can teach children how to brush their teeth, but convincing them to do it is another story.  We talk to people all of the time who are just tired and worn out from battling their kids about brushing their teeth.  To help you out, here are 5 practical tips for winning the war:

Monkey see, monkey do.

Lead by example.  Kids are always copying what their parents do.  Show your kids consistency in your own oral health habits and they’ll follow suit.  Even more, show them that you are proud of your smile and take pride in keeping it healthy and they’ll do the same.

Let them pick their poison.

Make a special trip to the store for your little one to select their very own toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, and mouthwash.  Put extra emphasis on it being completely theirs.  They’ll enjoy the fact that they have something that no one else can use.

Put a little fun into it.

Make up a song or game  to go along with their brushing and flossing routine.  By infusing energy, laughter, and play into the process, they’ll learn to associate brushing with a fun time.

Teach them why.

Instead of only teaching children how to brush, teach them why they should brush.  Put it in children’s terms and tell them that they have to brush away the “sugar bugs” before they attack their teeth and make them dirty. There’s even plaque-revealing mouthwash to show them exactly where the “sugar bugs” are.

Role reversal.

They say you’re an expert in a subject once you can teach it.  Let your child teach YOU how to brush, or have them pretend with their stuffed animal.  If they can teach it well, then they’ve learned it well.

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The Tooth-y Two’s: How to Care for Your Toddler’s Teeth

Ahhh, the terrific two’s. (That is the saying, right?)

By now your child is sprouting some pearly whites, you’ve already been in to see the dentist a couple of times, and you’re engaged in the full-on battle of brushing each and every day. Keep it up, Mom & Dad!  Sometimes the tears can be a bit discouraging (theirs AND yours), but you’re doing the right thing.

Here are a few reminders for your child’s oral hygiene.

How should I brush my toddler’s teeth?

Just like you, a toddler should be brushing for 2 minutes twice a day.  More accurately, YOU should be brushing their teeth for 2 minutes twice a day.  Children don’t quite have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth for a few years yet.

Using a smear of fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush, brush in small, circular movements until all traces of food are gone.  If you let your child brush their own teeth, make sure to finish up the job for them.

(And if they absolutely won’t let you do it without a huge battle, here are some tips for getting them to play along.)

Should my child be using fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant to acids and harmful bacteria. Adult toothpastes and most municipal water contain some amount of fluoride.

Call your local water authority or ask your dentist about fluoride in your water.  If you use well water, buy a test kit from a hardware store to determine the fluoride level in your water supply. If it’s anything less than .3 parts per million, ask your pediatrician about a supplement.

Although fluoride is good for your teeth, swallowing too much of it over time leads to a condition called fluorosis that causes white spots on adult teeth. Until your child can spit out the toothpaste after brushing, use toothpaste without fluoride.  When your child starts using toothpaste with fluoride, use only a pea-sized amount.

How can I keep my toddler’s teeth healthy?

Keeping your child’s teeth healthy depends as much on what you allow them to eat as how you brush them.  Sweets and sugary snacks alter the acidity of their mouth, which causes tooth decay and cavities.  These foods should be kept to an absolute minimum.

When your child is indulging in sweets, try to keep it to once a day. If sugary snacks are consumed regularly throughout the day, their mouth will be under attack from the acid for hours at a time.

The 5 Subconscious Habits You’re Doing that Damage Your Teeth

We all have times when we’re running on autopilot, and we’re pulled in a million different directions. At these times, you might not even realize the wear & tear you’re doing to your teeth. Beware of these 5 habits you probably do subconsciously that could wind you up at the dentist’s office.

1. Crunching on ice

This one is a tough habit to break because most people either never eat ice or eat ice all of the time. Your teeth are designed to crush THROUGH things, not AGAINST them, so the hardness of ice cubes can cause serious damage to your teeth. One dentist reminds use that even “your blender needs special blades to crush ice.”

2. Using your teeth as tools

We’ve all done it. Don’t see the tool you need laying close by hand? Plan B: Use your teeth – whether it’s breaking off a clothing tag, opening a bag of chips, or unscrewing that impossible soda top. But remember, your teeth are meant for 3 things: to chew food, to speak properly, and to look better when smiling. If you’re not using your teeth for any of those 3 things, don’t use them at all.

3. Absentmindedly chewing on whatever you have in your hand

You might not even realize how often you do this. (You might not even realize you’re doing it right now!) Some people have a habit of holding whatever object they have in their hand – pens, pencils, eyeglasses, etc. – between their teeth when they’re concentrating. Again, your teeth are designed to crush through things, so even though it might not seem like a big deal, you’re most likely putting more pressure on your teeth than you even realize.

4. Sipping on soda

We all know soda is bad for us — too much sugar, too many calories, leads to serious health conditions (really, is there anything good about soda?) — but sipping on soda over a long period of time can be detrimental to your teeth.  By casually drinking a soda at your desk, you’re literally washing your teeth in acid for an hour.  In the long term, this leads to decay and loss of enamel.

5. Excessive snacking

It’s true that snacking throughout the day kickstarts your metabolism, but it also raises the acidity level in your mouth for a prolonged period of time. When you snack, it takes your saliva about an hour to return the acidity level in your mouth back to normal, but if you’re snacking every hour or every two hours, the acidity level will be high many times throughout the day, which causes decay and enamel erosion.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers to sponsor City of Cape Coral “Movie in the Park”

FORT MYERS, Fla. (December 8, 2014) – Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD will sponsor the free “movie in the park” in conjunction with the City of Cape Coral Parks and Recreation for the 2015 season. The City of Cape Coral Parks and Recreation will have special activities and a grand prize giveaway for each movie.

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“Many of our patients and staff live in Cape Coral, we’re happy to be able to help sponsor family activities and we’ll continue to show we care about our community because we sincerely do,” said Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD of Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers.

Among the movies that Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers is sponsoring include, Despicable Me 2 Saturday, February 21 2015, The Croods Saturday, April 18, 2015, and The Avengers Saturday, May 16, 2015. For locations and  movie times, please visit www.capeparks.com or call (239) 573-3123.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD, continues to provide pediatric dental care to children for the last 24 years. Areas of service include comprehensive dental exams, cleanings, composite fillings, dental hygiene education, extractions, fluoride treatments, sealants, sedation dentistry, space maintainers, x-rays and tooth nerve treatment. For more information, visit www.DrVerwest.com or (239) 482-2722.