Maintaining good oral health among holiday treats doesn’t have to be tricky

 School of Dental Medicine  Comments Off on Maintaining good oral health among holiday treats doesn’t have to be tricky
Oct 292013
Cotterill, Christopher (Passport Photo)

Christopher A. Cotterill, DMD, assistant clinical professor in the ECU School of Dental Medicine

In the last few days of October, Halloween is only a few days away with Thanksgiving following soon after and generally marking the beginning of the holiday season.

This festive time of year is wonderful for allowing enjoyment of traditions and socializing with friends and family. However, this often involves increased intake of candy, confections, and other treats that normally would not be consumed in such quantity or frequency.

Maintaining good oral health along with these dietary changes is important for people of all ages, but it is especially important for children.

This is one reason that a year ago the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the Ad Council instituted the Partnership for Oral Health. This campaign,, was designed to raise awareness of oral health in children, parents, and caregivers.

As exemplified by its web address, one of the keys to good oral health is maintaining good oral hygiene through brushing children’s teeth for 2 minutes 2 times a day.

Other good oral health practices include:

  • Brushing teeth after meals, especially at night, and not having snacks or sweetened beverages between brushing and bedtime.
  • Supervising a child’s brushing and flossing until they are old enough to do a good job on their own. When children develop this ability can vary slightly, but for most children it’s around age 8.
  • Using dental floss to clean between teeth at least once a day, every day as soon as any of the adjacent teeth begin to touch each other. Use of floss is important for the removal of plaque and food between the teeth where the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach. If traditional use of dental floss wrapped around fingers is found to be too difficult for the child, parent, or caregiver, then the use of disposable flossers or other flossing aids can help make this easier.
  • Delivering topical fluoride to the teeth through toothpaste, rinse, or fluoridated water can help strengthen enamel and make it more resistant to the acidic attack that is involved in the tooth decay process.
  • Seeing a dentist regularly. The AAPD recommends that all children have a dental home.  Properly establishing a dental home means that all children should see a dentist by one year of age and on a regular basis for the rest of their lives, similar to recommendations for wellness checks with pediatricians. This is important because dentists can detect small problems before they become bigger and start to cause pain. 

These and other recommendations can be found on the AAPD’s website at:

-Christopher A. Cotterill, DMD, assistant clinical professor

ECU School of Dental Medicine

Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics



Holiday sweets bring reminder to brush, floss

 School of Dental Medicine  Comments Off on Holiday sweets bring reminder to brush, floss
Oct 302012

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the holiday season are just around the corner, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and Ad Council have teamed up for a campaign to promote oral health. This Partnership for Oral Health is designed to raise awareness of children, parents and caregivers about oral health.

Some of the recommendations found online from the AAPD at or the Partnership for Oral Health at are:

• Remember to brush teeth twice a day for at least two minutes.
• Parents and caregivers should help or watch over their kids’ tooth brushing abilities until they’re at least 8-years-old.
• Children should use a soft toothbrush that allows them to reach all areas of their mouth.
• Replace toothbrushes every three to four months or sooner if the bristles are worn out, or if your children have been sick
• Children also should clean between their teeth once a day, every day, with floss or flossers to remove plaque and food where a toothbrush can’t reach. Teeth can be flossed as soon as two teeth touch each other.
• Plaque is the sticky film of germs that forms and collects on teeth and gums after eating. Plaque that is not removed by brushing twice a day can lead to cavities.
• Visit your dentist regularly your whole life, starting no later than age one. This is important for good oral health.
• As soon as teeth appear in your baby’s mouth, it’s possible for your child to develop cavities. It is important to keep your baby’s gums and teeth clean to prevent tooth decay, even in baby teeth. Brush for two minutes, twice a day.
• Fluoride helps fight cavities and is found naturally in water and some foods. Fluoride is added to dental products like toothpaste to help protect teeth from cavities.
• Taking good care of a child’s teeth reduces the number of bacteria in their mouth that can cause tooth decay.
• A balanced diet helps teeth and gums to be healthy. A diet high in natural or added sugars may place your child at extra risk for tooth decay.
• A sugary or starchy food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Chewing during a meal helps produce saliva which helps wash away sugar and starch.
• Sticky foods, like potato chips, raisins and other dried fruit and candy are not easily washed away by saliva, water or milk, so they have more cavity-causing potential.
• Talk to your dentist about serving foods that foster good dental health.

Stuart D. Josell, DMD, MDenSC
Chair of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
East Carolina University
School of Dental Medicine