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Patient Education - Latest News

Drop that pacifier!

May 6, 2013 Should you suck on a pacifier before giving it to your baby?

A new study in Pediatrics, journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reports that parents sucking their infant's pacifier may reduce the risk of allergy development.

The ADA wants parents to be aware that licking a pacifier can transfer the cavity-causing bacteria from parents to children increasing the possibility of tooth decay as they grow.

"A child's teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they begin to erupt," said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Maine and a pediatric dental spokesperson for the ADA. "Cavity-causing bacteria, especially Streptococcus mutans, can be transferred from adult saliva to children, increasing their risk of getting cavities."

Sharing eating utensils with a baby, or the parent sucking on a pacifier to clean it, can also increase the likelihood of transmitting decay-causing bacteria.

The ADA recommends that parents protect the dental health of young children by promoting a healthy diet, monitoring their intake of food and drink, brushing their teeth or wiping gums after mealtimes, and by having infants finish their bedtime or naptime bottle before going to bed. The ADA recommends that children receive their first dental visit within six months of eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age.

Community water fluoridation "benefits all"

April 22, 2013 "A lifetime of cavity prevention can be obtained for less than the cost of one dental filling, said U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., when speaking about the health benefits of fluoride.

In a letter presented during the 2013 National Oral Health Conference, Dr. Benjamin praised community water fluoridation for its effectiveness in preventing tooth decay in both children and adults, noting that "each generation born since the implementation of water fluoridation has enjoyed better dental health than the generation that preceded it."

One of the most important things about community water fluoridation is that it "benefits all" residents of a community, she said.

"These benefits are not limited by a person's income level or their ability to receive routine dental care."

For more information about fluoride, visit MouthHealthy's Fluoride page.

Oral cancer exams save lives

April 1, 2013 Did you know almost 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer this year? And that the 5-year survival rate of those diagnosed is only slightly more than 64 percent? When cancer is detected and treated early, treatment-related health problems are reduced.

This year the American Dental Association, American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, American Academy of Periodontology and American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons have joined the Oral Cancer Foundation in its campaign to remind everyone that regular oral cancer examinations from your dental professional are the best methods to detect oral cancer in its early stages. Regular dental visits can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, at a time when cancer can be treated more easily.

In between dental visits, it is important for patients to be aware of the following signs and symptoms, and to see their dentist if they do not disappear after two weeks:

  • a sore or irritation that doesn't go away
  • red or white patches
  • pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

For more information about oral cancer, its diagnosis and treatment, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.

Dental amalgam is a safe and effective filling option

March 28, 2013 The March 28 episode of "The Dr. Oz Show" contained a segment that portrayed dental amalgam, or silver-colored fillings, as a health risk.

The American Dental Association wants you to know that not one credible scientific study supports the claims made on the show. The show also ignored that major U.S. and international health and scientific organizations, including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and the ADA, all agree that, based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is safe and effective for patients.

Dental amalgam is one of several safe and effective choices available to dental patients. It is a durable, cost-effective, long-lasting filling material, making it appropriate for restoring back teeth, and more affordable than gold or tooth-colored fillings made of composite resins.

Ultimately, the best dental filling is no dental filling. Prevention is the best medicine. You can dramatically decrease your risk of cavities and other dental diseases simply by brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste; flossing daily; eating a balanced diet; and visiting the dentist regularly.

For more information on dental amalgam, please read the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs statement. The Mayo Clinic, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Alzheimer's Association have previously posted public statements about the safety of amalgam based on scientific evidence.

What you eat affects your dental health

March 1, 2013 A healthy mouth is more than just brushing and flossing. Your eating patterns and food choices also play an important role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

This March is the 40th anniversary of National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year's theme, "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day," highlights the importance of making informed food choices and developing personalized healthful eating plans. For more information about National Nutrition Month, including information on reading food labels and healthy snack ideas for kids, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for tip sheets and more.

Remember, for good dental health, keep these tips in mind when choosing your meals and snacks:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups, including: whole grains; fruits; vegetables; lean sources of protein such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish, dry beans, peas and other legumes; low-fat and fat-free dairy foods.

For more information, visit MouthHealthy Nutrition.

Dental X-rays remain a valuable tool in detecting oral health problems

September 15, 2012 A study published in Cancer, the peer-viewed journal of the American Cancer Society, found that people diagnosed with meningioma, a generally non-cancerous tumor, are more likely to report that they've received certain types of dental X-rays in the past.

There are several important things to understand about this study:

  • This finding doesn't mean that dental X-rays cause these tumors; much more research is needed.
  • The results rely on the individuals memories of having dental X-rays taken years earlier. The ability to recall information is often imperfect. Therefore, the results of studies that use this design can be unreliable because they are affected by what scientists call "recall bias."
  • The study acknowledges that some of the subjects received dental X-rays decades ago when radiation exposure was greater. Radiation doses were higher in the past due to the use of old X-ray technology and slower speed film.

The American Dental Association's long-standing position is that dentists should order dental X-rays for patients only when necessary for diagnosis and treatment. Since 1989, the ADA has published recommendations to help dentists ensure that radiation exposure is as low as reasonably achievable. As precautions against radiation, ADA encourages the use of abdominal shielding (e.g., protective aprons) and thyroid collars on all patients. In addition, the ADA recommends that dentists use E or F speed film, the two fastest film speeds available, or a digital X -ray.

Dental X-rays are a valuable part of detecting oral health problems at an early stage. Many oral diseases can't be detected with a physical examination alone. Dental X-rays help provide information about a patient's oral health such as early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections and some types of tumors. How often dental X-rays should be taken depends on the patient's oral health condition, age, risk for disease and any signs and symptoms of oral disease that the patient might be experiencing. If you have concerns the ADA encourages you to talk to your dentist, but eliminating X-rays altogether could be detrimental to your oral health.