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


Addressing the oral health of North Carolina’s children

 School of Dental Medicine  Comments Off on Addressing the oral health of North Carolina’s children
Sep 102012

How are teeth problems affecting child outcomes in North Carolina?

Dr. Ford Grant, DMD, director of general dentistry and clinical associate professor in the ECU School of Dental Medicine, responds to ECU Health Beat questions.

Q. In your experience, how do dental problems affect the academic success of children?

A. Since opening the first Community Service Learning Center (CSLC) in Ahoskie we have seen many children with extensive decay and abscessed teeth. These children experience oral pain on a daily basis. Their parents seem to be at a loss as to what is causing the problem. A recent study at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry found children with tooth pain were four times more likely to have a grade point average below the median. The study noted that children missed an average of six days in elementary school due to illness. Dental problems accounted for 2.1 days of the total. They also found that parents missed an average of 2.5 days of work per year to take their children to the dentist.

Q. How can more be done to help parents understand the importance of oral hygiene for their children?

A. Of course you cannot be healthy without a healthy mouth, to paraphrase former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. Many dental offices refuse to see children until they can behave and sit still. By then the damage is done, if good oral hygiene practices are not carried out at home. At the Ahoskie CSLC, we encourage parents to bring their children for an initial exam before the age of one, when the teeth are just starting to erupt. This exam is in the lap of the parent and the purpose is to teach the parent how to properly clean their child’s teeth and mouth. Bacteria infect the hard tissues of the teeth causing tooth decay or caries (cavities). You are not born with those bacteria in your mouth. It is passed to children from contact with another person’s saliva. We need to approach the problem in the way other infectious diseases are managed.

Q. How will the ECU School of Dental Medicine impact oral health awareness/education in North Carolina?

A. The ECU School of Dental Medicine will have an active pediatric dentistry program that will help train dentists to enter the community and take on these problems. At the CSLC, we will hope to be involved with health programs in the community to educate parents and new mothers to prevention of oral infections and decay. School based programs will be used to help encourage good nutritional and oral care practices for a lifetime.

For more on the USC study, go to: