Month: September 2017

Keeping kids safe at the dentist

Widespread news about the tragic death of a 3-year old earlier this year has parents across the globe concerned for the safety of children undergoing anesthesia for common dental procedures.

It’s not the first time that the safety of sedating children at the dentist’s office has been in the news. Tales of dentists using sedation to increase profits and minimize inconvenience have been brought up amid findings that some dentists were using sedation for even routine cleanings and cavity treatments.

For concerned parents, it’s important to ask your dentist if they ever recommend sedation for children, and for what types of procedures. If a dental treatment may require a long, complicated or painful procedure, sedation may be reasonable.

For routine exams and cleanings, however, most dentists don’t consider the risks of sedation to be worth the benefit. Many pediatric dentists ease children into routine cleanings and are careful to consider the child’s emotional state. Utilizing music, TVs, or other supports can often help children relax during their visit.

If it turns out your child may benefit from being sedated, parents should take time to review the ADA’s guidelines for parents and guardians. Some of the questions recommended by the ADA to ask your child’s dentist ahead of time include:

  • Who will provide the preoperative evaluation of my child including their past medical history such as allergies, current prescription medications and previous illnesses and hospitalizations?
  • What is the recommended time that my child should be without food or drink prior to the procedure (with the exception of necessary medications taken with a sip of water)?
  • Will any sedation medication be given to my child at home prior to their coming to the office and, if so, how should they be monitored?
  • What training and experience does the sedation/anesthesia provider have in providing the level of sedation or anesthesia that is planned for the procedure? Does this training and experience meet all of the standards of the ADA Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists?
  • Does the staff assisting in the procedure have current training in emergency resuscitation procedures, such as Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, and other advanced resuscitation courses as recommended by the ADA Guidelines? Is this training regularly renewed?
  • Does the state dental board require a special sedation/anesthesia permit or license that allows for the sedation/anesthesia provider to administer this specific level of sedation or anesthesia in the dental office?
  • In addition to the use of local anesthesia (numbing), what level of sedation or general anesthesia will be given to my child? Is it minimal sedation (relaxed and awake), moderate sedation (sleepy but awake), deep sedation (barely awake) or general anesthesia (unconscious)?
  • How will my child be monitored before, during and after the procedure until the child is released to go home? Are the appropriate emergency medications and equipment immediately available if needed, and does the office have a written emergency response plan for managing medical emergencies?
  • Will the sedation/anesthesia provider give me instructions and emergency contact information if there are any concerns or complications after returning home?

These questions can be daunting, but keep in mind children sedated for dental procedures in the US are normally unaffected by the procedure. While the risks of anesthesia are real and are higher for young children, you and your child’s dentist should be able to discuss the above topics and come to a confident conclusion regarding your child’s needs.

Teeth whitening myths

Everyone wants a white, majestic smile to show off. And, with so many products and treatments available for teeth whitening, how can you tell what’s effective, and more importantly, what’s safe.

Truth is, just like we all have different hair and skin color, we all come with different tooth color too. Some teeth are more yellow than others, and some get more yellow with aging. Your natural tooth color can also be affected by a number of other factors. In our quest to have the ultimately brilliant smile, there are some common myths to keep in mind.

1) Teeth whitening will damage your enamel

While whitening products can cause temporary tooth sensitivity, the truth is they don’t damage the enamel. Whitening products only remove surface stains found in the microscopic pores of your teeth and the bleach does not penetrate deeply within the tooth

2) Rubbing fruit on your teeth can help to remove stains

Strawberries, lemons, even banana peels – there are many, many folk tales about getting that white smile. But, not only will fruit not remove stains, it will also seriously damage your teeth. The high concentration of citric acid in these fruits can potentially erode teeth.

3) Once whitened, teeth will stay white forever

Unfortunately, the effects of eating, drinking and aging continue to show on your teeth even after having them whitened. To maintain your pearly smile, teeth whitening maintenance should be done on a regular basis, approximately every six months. Committing to good oral hygiene habits and brushing with a whitening toothpaste, along with avoiding foods that stain your teeth, will help the life of your white teeth last longer.

4) Active charcoal is the secret to whiter teeth

This is one of the latest viral trends on social media, and while tempting, medical professionals are warning against this DIY trend. Most dentists agree that this method may actually leave tooth enamel susceptible to deterioration and erosion, which can lead to sensitivity and cavities.

5) Whitening will make your teeth look unnatural

A common concern, it is very difficult to whiten your teeth beyond their most natural, whitest shade. If you have noticed people with unnaturally white teeth, it is likely they have had other types of cosmetic treatment done such as porcelain crowns or veneers. There’s a finite level of whitening which can be achieved, and this depends on what shade your teeth were when you started.

6) Teeth whitening causes extreme sensitivity

After a teeth whitening treatment, patients sometimes experience tooth sensitivity. This is true for both professional whitening as well as over-the-counter teeth whitening. One cause of tooth sensitivity can be a result of the bleaching agent getting on the gums and other soft tissues near a tooth. It can also be due to the dentinal tubules which are little holes in the dentin layer of the tooth that are linked to the dental pulp within the tooth. This is also why teeth can be sensitive to heat and cold. Whitening agents can cause the tubules to become exposed (which is a temporary condition), and make teeth hypersensitive. After a whitening treatment, avoid foods that are hot or cold for a day or two and it’s a good idea to brush your teeth gently and rinse with lukewarm water.

Good news! The American Dental Group Discount Plan offers discounts on Teeth Whitening (and like many cosmetic dental procedures, most traditional insurance plans have zero coverage!).