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Back-to-School Oral Health Hacks

 

There’s probably no more exciting - and stressful - time in a child’s life than back-to-school season. But along with all the mixed emotions and new routines, sometimes important things like our teeth can take a backseat. Don’t let the excitement and chaos of the new school year hurt your kids’ oral health this fall. Try these back-to-school oral care hacks to keep their oral health right on track.

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Why Proper Jaw Spacing Is So Important

The benefits of a beautiful, evenly aligned smile are easy to see. But did you know that when it comes to a perfect smile, there’s more than meets the eye? It’s true! A beautiful smile goes far beyond just looks - having a beautifully aligned smile has health benefits, too. It can help eliminate the pain associated with crowding, bruxism (also known as tooth grinding) and even temporomandibular joint disorders (aka TMJ disorders, or simply TMD). That’s one of the main reasons that, when it comes to aligning your bite, early intervention is best.

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British Dental Health Crisis Highlights Need for Better Dental Access for Children Worldwide


Funding cuts to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) have left major shortages in dental access for British children. According to a new report by the British Dental Association, scores of children needing dental services ranging from regular exams to dental surgeries are simply no longer able to get them, as approximately half of Britain’s NHS-funded dental clinics have been forced to stop accepting new patients due to funding cuts.

 

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Braces and Sports

If you or someone you love is new to sports or to braces this winter, there are a few things you should keep in mind before getting active. Just like your naked teeth, your braces-wearing mouth needs protection while playing many common sports. From football to hockey, basketball, wrestling and roller derby, it is essential that you properly protect your teeth and your braces if you participate in sports. But before you reach for that trusty old boil-and-bite mouth guard, make sure you read this guide to choosing the right guard for braces.

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Sealing the Deal: Do Kids Really Need Dental Sealants?


If you’ve ever been told by your dentist that your child’s teeth will benefit from sealants, you may be wondering what they are, and if they’re worth the expense. If you’re curious about sealants, here’s a guide to everything you’ve ever wondered about this beneficial treatment option.

What Are Sealants?

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National Children’s Dental Health Month: Teens and Teeth


If you’re like most parents, you probably struggle to get your teen to talk to you about pretty much anything, let alone oral health. But oral hygiene habits begin at home, and even though your teen thinks he or she is an adult, it’s still up to you to make sure your teen is doing his or her best to maintain oral health. In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, here are some tips about helping your older children take proper care of their oral hygiene - even when you don’t care for their tone.

 

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Healthy Lessons for Girl Scout Badges


Whether you’ve been a Girl Scout yourself or are lucky enough to be raising one, you’re probably already aware that there are ways to earn badges for almost everything under the sun. But while interests change with each passing generation, there are some badges that remain evergreen in both interest and importance. Girl Scouting can teach your daughter many valuable lessons about how to care for herself and her community. 

If you are looking for ways to teach your daughter more about excellent oral health and hygiene, check out these popular Girl Scout badges and some ideas about how to earn them!

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When Is the Right Time for Kids to Get Braces?


If you’re the parent of a child with a less-than-perfect smile, you may be considering straightening your child’s teeth with braces. But with so much misinformation out there about these orthodontic devices, it can be hard to tell if and when your child actually needs braces - and what kind of braces are best.

Whether you’ve discussed braces with Dr. Simpson or with an orthodontist, or you’ve never considered braces before, here are some indicators that your child may be ready to start straightening his or her smile.

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TMJ and Halloween Candy


With overflowing buckets of Halloween candy hanging around the house for weeks, and the winter holidays on the way, there’s plenty of potential for aggravating your TMJ disorder by eating the wrong treats. It can be difficult to know what’s safe to eat and what has the potential to worsen your TMJ symptoms.  If you’re swimming in snacks but don’t know which ones are safe, check out this guide to TMJ-friendly (and not-so-friendly!) treats.

 

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Not-So-Scary Halloween Treats to Try This Year


Halloween season should be a time of frights and delights - but not at the expense of your teeth! If you are tired of handing out cavity-causing candy (and keeping it in your house, where it’s hard to resist), consider handing out these candy-free alternatives this Halloween.

 

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Smile-Friendly Snacks for Back-to-School Season


With millions of children across America heading back to school this time of year, it’s time to start thinking about what to feed your kids when you send them out the door. Whether you pay for hot lunch or prefer to brown-bag it, there are a wide array of options to choose from that taste great and won’t harm your child’s teeth. If you’re looking for some snack inspiration that won’t end up in the trash can, check out this list of tooth-healthy snacks!

 

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Encourage Oral Care in Kids with these Books about Brushing!


If you have kids, you probably already know that sometimes even the easiest and mundane of daily responsibilities can be a battle. Picking up one’s dirty socks off the floor can go over as well as being asked to deep clean the entire carpet, and asking them to wash their hands before dinner might as well be asking them to wash their hands in a big bucket of gooey slime. If getting your kids to brush your teeth is up there on the list of things to do that are often like, well, pulling teeth, check out some of these popular children’s books that show them how fun and important taking care of their teeth can be!

 

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Baby Teeth Offer Autism Clues


A recently released study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has found a connection between prenatal and postnatal exposure to some metals, and autism spectrum disorder, also known as ASD. Conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, the study used naturally-shed baby teeth to measure levels of lead, manganese and zinc in children with and without ASD. The study analyzed the teeth of 32 pairs of twins and 12 individual twins to control genetic influences.

To measure the metals, researchers used lasers to cut out thin layers of the tooth’s dentin, much like dendrologists do when they use dendrochronology to date tree rings. By extracting dentin in this manner, researchers can measure metal exposure at various stages of the tooth, and by proxy, the child’s development.Lead Exposure May Hold a KeyWhat the researchers found was that baby teeth from the children with ASD had higher levels of lead and lower levels of both manganese and zinc compared to the children who did not have ASD. Even more fascinating, those levels stayed relatively similar throughout the child’s development, with lead levels peaking shortly after birth. Children with ASD were also found to have lower manganese levels both in the womb and shortly after birth. Zinc levels were lower in utero among the children with ASD, but those levels increased dramatically after birth, surpassing the levels of the neurotypical children at the same stage."We are really beginning to see just how important a barometer the teeth are to whole-body health," said Wilmington, North Carolina dentist Dr. Michele Simpson. "This study is just one more glimpse into how extremely connected the different systems of the body are to each other."The authors of the study conclude that autism spectrum disorder and early exposure to certain metals may be linked, but that the key to determining why some children develop ASD and others don’t lie in how the body processes those metals.Teeth May Offer Future InsightIn addition to the groundbreaking findings regarding ASD, many in the medical community are optimistic about the possibilities that baby teeth may hold in shedding light on other developmental disorders, like ADHD."Dentin samples and dental stem cells from shed baby teeth are showing lots of promise in both understanding and treating many different disorder," said Simpson. "A recent study in England used dental stem cells extracted from baby teeth to treat children with autism and even showed improved developmental markers in areas like language and memory. It will be exciting to see what other medical breakthroughs teeth will play a role in in the future."

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Feeling Tongue Tied About Ankyloglossia?


 

 Ankyloglossia, or "tongue tie" is a common childhood ailment that occurs when the lingual frenulum connecting your tongue to the bottom of your mouth fails to separate in utero. An estimated 3 million babies are born each year with tongue ties, and while tongue ties are found in babies of both genders, for some reason, they’re more common in boys than in girls. Furthermore, while it is unknown what exactly causes tongue tie, it can sometimes be associated with certain genetic factors. Dr. Michelle Simpson discusses what exactly a tongue tie is, and how to correct it.

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Can a New Augmented Reality Game Finally End the Tooth-brushing Battle?


A new augmented reality (AR) game is creating a buzz in the dentistry world. The game is called Grush, and it was designed to teach children proper brushing – all while having fun. The game’s designer, Dr. Yong Jing-Wang, created Grush after his own son had difficulty taking proper care of his own teeth. Now Grush is available to families all over the world – but is a video game toothbrush really a good idea? We spoke to Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC about Grush and the scores of other teeth brushing apps on the market.

While Grush is certainly not the first app to make cleaning teeth into a game, it is definitely the first app of its kind. Most tooth-brushing apps on the market today fall into two categories. One variation uses toothbrush ‘timers’ that offer some kind of tutorial or game to children while the app counts the time spent brushing (and usually encourages brushing for 2 minutes). The other is strictly a game, where players actually use their own hands to ‘brush’ the teeth on the characters of the app - with no relation to the actual player brushing.

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Good Oral Health Begins At Birth


Your baby’s first year is full of many firsts. First smile, first laugh, and maybe even a clap or a crawl too. Another momentous first? Your baby’s first tooth. But if he or she only has one tooth, do you really need to see a dentist? Should you be brushing that tooth? How soon is too soon to begin caring for your child’s teeth? Dr. Michele Simpson offers some pointers on how to care for your new baby’s oral health from infancy and beyond.

During your child’s first year of life, they will likely be seen by the pediatrician at least a dozen times. Between the first few hospital check-ups, then the bi-weekly, weekly and finally monthly well-baby visits, their growth and development are monitored very closely. If your child is healthy, this is usually all you need until teeth begin to erupt. The first tooth shows up around the 6th month, but many children have gotten them earlier, and many more much later. We like to see children start coming to the dentist at around age 1, provided there are teeth present.

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My Child Knocked Out a Baby Tooth! Now What?


Baby teeth. They’re the set of teeth that are meant to be lost. The set that if your child loses accidentally, you don’t panic over, or worry about saving or replacing. But did you know that in some cases you actually can save baby teeth that are lost accidentally? Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC explains.

Picture this: Your son is running on uneven pavement, and his shoe catches a raised tile, sending him flying through the air. He lands, taking the impact on his top, central incisor- knocking the tooth clean out. Now, what? At this moment, you have a few options. You can consider the tooth a lost cause and introduce your son to the tooth fairy a little early, or according to Dr. Michele Simpson, there may be hope of saving the tooth and having a dentist re-implant it. But time is of the essence!

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The Origin of the Tooth Fairy


If you grew up in the United States, it’s a safe bet that you’ve probably at least heard of the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy is a mythical sprite who is said to fly into children's’ bedrooms at night, to take fallen baby teeth that were left under children's’ pillows for her- and swap those teeth out for a reward (usually money). But where did the story of the tooth fairy come from?

If you look around the world at traditions to celebrate lost teeth, you will find that many other countries have their own very similar myths- but the use of a humanoid fairy is only found in America. In Spanish-speaking countries, for example, children leave their teeth out at night for a rat or mouse named Ratóncito Pérez. In France, children also leave their teeth for a mouse, but his name is La Petite Souris. Unlike the tooth fairy, though, traditions like La Petite Souris have been found in French literature dating back to the 17th century. The first mention of the American tooth fairy only dates back to 1927, in a playlet entitled "The Tooth Fairy." Unfortunately, the 8 page, three-act children’s play doesn’t go into any detail about the fairy herself, or how her tradition got started.

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Teething Tablets: What You Need to Know Right Now

Parents across the country were recently shocked to learn that the Hyland's Teething Tablets they've trusted to provide "natural" relief for their teething babies may have caused 400 "adverse events" in children (e.g.,. Fever, lethargy, seizures, etc.) and the deaths of ten infants. While these claims are still under FDA investigation and have not yet been verified, the FDA recently issued a warning to parents to stop giving children the tablets until a full investigation could be conducted. So what's a mom to do? We spoke to Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC about what this recall means for families- and what you can do to make teething easier in its wake.

It is important to note that what many are calling a Hyland's "recall" is not, in fact, a recall at all. Hyland's products were never actually recalled, and tablets may still be available at your favorite store- but once they're gone, they're gone. While US-Based Hyland's stands by their products, they have opted to voluntarily stop selling the tablets in the United States, but continue selling their teething products in foreign markets. As a result, your local store may choose to keep the tablets on shelves and sell off their inventory- or, in the case of stores like Walgreens and CVS, they may voluntarily pull the tablets off shelves just to be safe.

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Sealing the Deal: The Benefits of Dental Sealants

With debates about the efficacy of some tried and true dental treatments in the news this summer, many consumers are wondering what is really necessary when it comes to their teeth. Dental sealants are a widely recommended treatment for children as their new teeth erupt: but are they effective? With many insurance plans declining to cover sealants, it's important to know if they're even worth the out of pocket expense.

A sealant is a clear plastic coating that is painted over the tooth and acts as a barrier against plaque and cavities. According to the American Dental Association, when done properly sealants can reduce decay in teeth by up to 80%. While sealants are usually applied to newly erupted teeth (most commonly on the back molars) they can also be applied to adult's teeth if there is no decay present, or if that decay has already been correctly filled. However, according to Dr. Michele Simpson DDS of Wilmington, NC, it is rare for adults to receive sealants. Says Simpson "We generally don't seal adult's teeth as often because unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine whether or not an adult tooth is 100% free of decay." According to Simpson, sealing a tooth with even a tiny bit of decay can cause significant problems. "Using a sealant on a tooth that already has begun deteriorating can actually make decay the worse by trapping it under the sealant and causing infection." In most cases, it's not worth the risk.

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959

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3317 Masonboro Loop Rd
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Wilmington, NC 28409