Dr. Rader, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

Dr. Rader, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814
Dr. Rader, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

Monday, February 20, 2017

Could The Paleo Diet Be Good For Your Teeth?

When it comes to diet trends, there are a few heavyweights that top the list, including the low-carb, low-fat, South Beach® and Atkins® diets. There are, however, a few others gaining speed, including vegan, slow-carb and Paleo. All of these diets have negatives and plusses, and generally speaking, most physicians advise patients to pursue a “balanced” approach appropriate to your physical makeup, habits and lifestyle. The open-ended question is: are these diets good or bad for your teeth? We’ve looked at a few others already, so let’s look at The Paleo Diet®.



What is The Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet takes its lead from the food consumption habits of humans who lived in the Paleolithic era – the period between about 2.5 million and 20,000 years ago. These hunter-gatherers, who lived during the period more commonly referred to as The Stone Age, lived on a diet of wild plants and animals. The Paleo Diet is modern man’s attempt to mimic that consumption pattern.

Meat, Fresh Fruit, and Veggies. What’s not to Like?

At first glance, Paleo’s recommendation to focus on lean meats, fish, fruit, and vegetables, seems like the perfect plan for healthy living. And, to a large degree, if you were to fill your refrigerator with these foods, your doctor would be pretty happy with your decision.

That said, because Paleo excludes dairy and grains, your doctor and your dentist might ask you to aim for a bit more balance once you’ve achieved any weight loss goals you might be chasing. Let’s see how the Paleo plan stacks up when it comes to your teeth. 

Positive Oral Health Aspects of a Paleo Diet

  • Fiber: We could all use more fiber, and with all the fruit and vegetables you’re going to be consuming, getting the 22-34 grams a day recommended for adults should be a breeze. Your teeth will love you for it as well, because fiber has somewhat of a detergent effect on your mouth, scrubbing away plaque and debris as you chew. This is one reason why celery is great for teeth – it’s like built-in floss!
  • Potassium: Bones (like the ones that comprise your jaw and hold your teeth in place!) love potassium, and it’s a difficult nutrient to get unless you’re consuming a ton of bananas and V-8® juice. Muscles, too, thrive on potassium, so if you’re an athlete, or just someone who likes to remain active, you’ll likely notice the boost you’re getting from higher numbers of fruits and vegetables.
  • Vitamin B-12: Thank your lean meats and fish for good numbers in this area. B Vitamins are essential for healthy gum tissue, and on a Paleo diet you’ll have no problem accumulating the recommended 2.4 micrograms a day.
  • Vitamin C: We all know Vitamin C is good for us, and once again, it’s fruit to the rescue. Vitamin C is critical in the development of collagen and healthy gum tissue and has the added benefit of keeping you free from the ravages of scurvy. Not a bad deal.
  • Low-Glycemic Carbs: Since you’ll be avoiding all sorts of refined sugars and starchy vegetables on The Paleo Diet, your teeth are going to get a break from the sticky sugars that are the primary cause of teeth decay. As we always say, what’s good for your waistline is often good for your teeth.
  • Unprocessed Oils, Nuts and Seeds: Healthy fats from olive and sesame oils, avocados, nuts and seeds protect teeth by helping them re-mineralize. When it comes to nuts, though, binge eating is a real concern – don’t eat too many if you’re concerned about your fat intake.
  • A Healthy Reliance on Water: The Paleo Diet shuns beverages that are bad for your teeth. Nut milks are okay when unsweetened, but water remains the beverage of choice for the majority of Paleos. Is water good for your teeth? You betcha. Swish it around and remove all that junk from your teeth, stimulate saliva flow, and keep that oral cavity properly hydrated!

Oral Health Concerns with the Paleo Diet

  • Getting Energy from Sticky Fruit: Carbohydrates provide the fuel our bodies need to function, and the majority of us meet those needs with grains first, and vegetables second. However, since The Paleo Diet avoids grains, and consuming the larger volumes of vegetables necessary to get the same amount of energycan prove difficult for most adherents, many opt to get their carb boost from the natural sugars in fruit.

    While this isn’t a terrible idea (fruitarians, for example, consume only fruit), many Paleo dieters rely on dried fruit – which give you energy in spades, but are bad for your teeth because they tend to stick. So, keep a toothbrush and floss handy if you find yourself overdoing it on dried fruit.
  • Excessive Fruit Acid: Lots of fresh fruit means lots of fruit acid – and, that’s bad for tooth enamel. Choose less acidic versions as often as possible, and keep a bottle of water handy to rinse between portions. Also, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing. Doing so earlier can drive the acids in your mouth deeper into your teeth. Not good!|
  • Lack of Vitamin D, Magnesium, Calcium and Iron: While supplements can appear to solve just about any nutrient deficiency, any doctor or nutritionist will also tell you there’s nothing like getting your nutrition in its original package. Paleo fans will find they’re lacking in a few vitamins essential to healthy teeth and bones (not to mention an overall healthy body), and may wish to consider supplementation if on the diet long term. Please know that it can be harmful to over consume some nutrients, especially if you’re already taking a multi-vitamin, so do not supplement without consulting with your physician.
  • No Dairy: No yogurt. No cheese. No milk. No exceptions. You’ll find many arguments for and against dairy out there, and for some populations with allergies, or intolerance, it’s something that has to be avoided no matter what. The trouble for Paleo dieters, though, is without a medical necessity preventing the consumption of dairy, avoiding this entire food group does lessen opportunities for teeth to repair themselves through the natural process of re-mineralization. And while meat does play a role in re-mineralizing, dairy is by far the bigger player.
As you can see, the ancient diet of Paleolithic men and women does contain some very solid health benefits. However, it’s not a panacea. Do your homework, think smart, eat smart, and consider all of your options!


https://www.patientconnect365.com/DentalHealthTopics/Article/Could_The_Paleo_Diet_Be_Good_For_Your_Teeth


Justin Rader DDS, Generations Dental
GenerationsDentalCDA.com

Monday, October 3, 2016

8 Secrets to a Successful Back-to-School Dental Checkup

8 Secrets to a Successful Back-to-School Dental Checkup



Backpack? Check. Booster shots? Check. Teeth cleaning? Check!

Regular dental visits are important year-round, but a back-to-school checkup is key in fighting the most common chronic disease found in school-age children:cavities. In fact, dental disease causes children to miss more than 51 million school hours each year. 

Prevention and early detection can help avoid pain, trouble eating, difficulty speaking and school absences. “When people are beginning to do their pediatrician checks to make sure their kids are school-ready, make sure teeth are part of it,” says pediatric dentist and American Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Mary Hayes. 

Plan Ahead

Between cookouts, camping trips and everything else on your family’s summer bucket list, it’s easy for school to sneak up on you. Unfortunately, many parents may not think about making that appointment until August, which Dr. Hayes says is one of her busiest times. “The rush is pretty intense,” she says. 

Give yourself enough time by making it a habit to call when your child gets her spring report card each year. “Planning ahead is good,” Dr. Hayes says. “If families want to avoid the rush to go back to school in August, then plan on getting appointments for the beginning of the summer.” 

Encourage Age-Appropriate Dental Habits at Home

The best kind of checkup is a cavity-free checkup. Moms and dads can help make this happen by encouraging kids to brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day. Here’s Dr. Hayes’ age-by-age advice:

Ages 6 and Under
At this age, your child might want to do all the brushing herself but doesn’t have the fine motor skills needed to do a thorough job. Let them start and jump in when needed. “During that age, the mouth is changing so much that children who are 5 or 6 are often brushing their teeth in the way they were when they were 2 or 3,” Dr. Hayes says. “They’re not accommodating the new molars, and they’re not accommodating the fact that the mouth is growing.”

Ages 7-12
By now, your child knows what to do, she just might not want to. Keep encouraging healthy brushing and flossing habits. “Be aware of the fact that sometimes you have to take over a little bit more,” she says. “By the time they’re teenagers, they’re starting to understand self-care, accountability for their actions and such.”

Ages 12-18
Dr. Hayes says this is a critical time for dental health. “When you look at research for when caries appear in kids, it tends to be in young kids. But another bump-up time is teenage years and early adulthood,” she says. “Part of this has to do with the fact that teenagers may have gone for many years and never had a cavity. They don’t necessarily take care of their teeth because they don’t see the consequence of not.”

Don’t let your teen’s habits become out of sight, out of mind. “The behaviors of the teenager are going to translate into the 20-year-old. We want to be able to support them and be respectful of them because they’re not kids anymore.”

Timing Is Everything

Time of day can make or break your child’s appointment. “It’s important for a child of any age who’s used to a nap to not schedule during naptime,” she says. If your child is always cranky after waking up, factor that in too. 

For older children, avoid cramming in a dentist appointment right after day camp or school. “Not all kids have the energy to do that,” she says. “I will have parents who want to do very elaborate operative work after school because that’s when the kids can come out. But if the child has already been exhausted or had a bad day or had tests, they just don’t have the stamina to make it through the appointment successfully.”

Make One Child a Model

If you’ve scheduled back-to-back appointments for your children, there’s a simple way to decide who goes first: Choose the child who’s had the most positive experiences at the dentist. “Every child is going to be a little bit different in their temperament about how they approach a visit,” she says. “You generally want the ones first who are more successful because the others get to see how it goes.” 

A Hungry Child Is Not a Happy Patient

Feed your child a light meal before the appointment. “Hungry people are grouchy people. You want them to be comfortable,” she says. “It’s also generally a good idea not to feed them in the waiting room before you see the dentist because there’s all that food in [their mouth].”

Eating light is also better for a child with a healthy gag reflex. “Some children gag a lot just because they gag with everything,” she says. “As they age and they get more control over swallowing, kids tend to gag less.” 

Bonus points if your child brushes before an appointment. “It’s polite,” Dr. Hayes says.

Leave Your Anxiety at the Door

If your heart races at the very thought of the dentist, your child can probably tell. “Kids pick up on parents’ anxiety,” Dr. Hayes says. “It’s important with kids, especially at 4, 5 and 6, because I believe the phobic adults are the ones who had bad experiences when they were that age.”

The younger your kids are, the more you need to be aware of how you’re communicating with them. For example, if your child asks about getting a cavity filled, don’t say, “It will only hurt for a little bit.” Instead, encourage your child to ask the dentist. “With any child, you want them to be able to feel successful at accomplishing a good visit and link that positive feeling with the idea that their teeth are strong and healthy so they have that message going forward for the rest of their lives.”

Keep Cool If Your Child Won’t Cooperate

If your child gets upset during her visit, the worst thing you can do is swoop them out of the chair and leave. “The next visit is going to be harder,” Dr. Hayes says. “You still have to help them get through part of the visit.”

First, assess why your child is acting out. Are they truly afraid, or are they trying to test the situation? “One of the reasons I think a 4, 5 or 6-year-old gets upset is because they think they’re going to be asked to do something they can’t be successful at,” she says. “They’re in an environment they feel they can’t control and that makes them upset, so we try to break it down into small steps.”

Then, work as a team with your dentist to keep the visit going. Let the dentist lead the conversation. Jump in where you think it helps most, while still allowing the dentist and your child to build a good relationship. “Give the dentist every opportunity to turn the visit around,” she says. 

Take a Card (or Three) on Your Way Out

Accidents can happen whether your child is in sports camp, gym class or just walking down the street. In case of emergency, make sure your child’s teachers and coaches have all the medical contact information they need – including your dentist’s number. Grab business cards for your wallet, your child’s backpack and your school’s files. “Parents should be very aware of accidents and make sure that wherever they go that they bring the number of their dentist so that if a child has an accident, they can certainly call the office,” Dr. Hayes says.

Generations Dental - Justin Rader DDS
1223 N Government Way
Coeur d Alene, ID 83814

208-664-9225

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

7 Oral Health Concerns for Those Over 50

When they say “age is all in your head,” they’re probably right. But then, your teeth ARE in your head -- so you likely can’t escape having to pay a little more attention to them after the age of 50. Although some oral health concerns are seen as common as we age, if you adopt a proactive mindset and educate yourself, these concerns do not have to be common for you. Anticipating and recognizing changes in your mouth can help you be on top of your health in this area -- so let’s take a look at the main ones you have to watch out for.
  1. Dry Mouth: The most common oral health concern you’re likely to experience as you age is dry mouth. In the medical world, dry mouth goes by the name xerostomia, and can be brought on by a number of contributing factors, including the over-consumption of drying beverages like coffee and alcohol, as well as the frequent consumption of salty foods. Another big offender is the medication we take over a lifetime to treat various illness. And the list isn’t a short one – there are at least 400 medications that can contribute to xerostomia, including medications for high blood pressure and depression. Many of our Patients manage dry mouth with various methods to include increased saliva production by chewing gum, xylitol lozenges, or xylitol mints. Some prefer mouthrinses like Biotene for dry mouth. Others consume more water. I do like it when people can make more of their own saliva with dry mouth lozenges. 
  2. Ill-fitting Dentures: First off, it’s important to note that the need for dentures is not a must as we age. Today, healthier living and better access to dental care has reduced the percentage of seniors wearing dentures to 27% from nearly 50% just a few decades ago. That said, should dentures be a part of your life, or that of a loved one, wearing properly-fitting dentures is critical.Sometimes, all that’s needed is a denture reline. Give us a call at 208-664-9225 to see if we can help. Dentures that cause pain or shift in the mouth tend to alter a person’s eating habits, which can lead to nutrition deficits if healthy, but hard-to-chew, foods are avoided. Ill-fitting dentures can also cause thrush.
  3. Physical Obstacles to Good Oral Care: As we age, we sometimes find ourselves having to contend with physical ailments that limit our desire to maintain good oral care. Arthritis, vision loss, or injuries are a few of the most common. To combat these concerns, using a floss pick to get between teeth can be helpful, and the regular use of oral rinses can assist in dislodging difficult-to-remove food debris, while adding to the overall health of one’s mouth and gum tissue. Here’s how to choose the best mouth rinse for your needs!
  4. Naturally Receding Gums: The old expression “long in the tooth” isn’t just a quaint idiom about how one accumulates wisdom with age – it also refers to how our teeth appear to “lengthen” as we age. In other words, it’s a fancy way of saying our gums are receding. While some degree of gum recession is indeed natural as we get up in years, this predisposes us to cavities along the root structure of the tooth where enamel doesn’t exist. So, as one ages, flossing, brushing and rinses are more important than ever.
  5. Gum Disease: Natural gum recession is one thing, and a part of “growing up,” if you will. Gum disease, however, is preventable. So, if it’s been longer than six months since you’ve seen us, please do give us a call at 208-664-9225. Each of the above items in this list can contribute to gum disease, and good oral care can prevent it. Failing to do so can lead to a need for dentures at its most extreme, and pain and swollen gums at its least. We’d prefer you experience neither concern!
  6. Tooth Loss: If a tooth is lost due to trauma or decay, and not replaced with an implant or other prosthetic, it can have serious complications for the health of the jawbone. Teeth can shift out of place and fall out, and bone tissue can be resorbed back into the body. Not a good thing.
  7. Loss of Insurance Coverage: Retirees without dental coverage can sometimes cover the expense of dental care on their own; sometimes they cannot. But a lack of funds to take care of one’s teeth can be devastating to the health of our mouths, and our overall health. So we need to plan for two things: a care routine that allows us to take care of our teeth as much as humanly possible and some sort of financial backup plan for when problems do arise. So, please do check with our in-office dental plans and multiple payment plans to aid it times when outside dental coverage is low to none. 208-664-9225. GenerationsDentalCDA.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Saving Space for Permanent Teeth with a Space Maintainer




Saving Space for Permanent Teeth with a Space Maintainer


If your little one's teeth have begun to fall out, and their permanent replacements appear to be lagging far behind, you may wish to consider a space maintainer to minimize future orthodontic work. Believe it or not, the absence of your child's teeth might seem cute now, but those tiny little gaps can cause deep gouges in your pocketbook as you watch them fill up with teeth that don't belong there. Space maintainers are simple to use, kids get along fine with them, and they have become the de-facto standard for protecting the cosmetic and functional aspects of your growing child's mouth.
 

Why Your Child Might Need a Space Maintainer


When a child's tooth is lost early due to trauma, tooth decay, or nature's insistence that it drop out before its permanent replacement is due, a space maintainer can be used to hold back the natural inclination of teeth to move forward. Without preventing this movement, teeth that should be in the rear of our mouths end up along the sides, and take up precious real estate destined for another tenant. The result is overcrowding, and in some cases impacted teeth. In the end, it's always easier to save the space now, then create it later.
 

How They Work


Space maintainers are very similar in purpose and design to an adult "bridge," but instead of placing artificial teeth over the gap, the space is kept open to accommodate its future resident. At Generations Dental we make most space maintainers out of metal, (sometimes both metal and plastic), and custom-mold them to the shape of your child's mouth. In most cases, the maintainer is made up of a metal band attached to a rectangular-shaped wire that butts up against the tooth across the gap. This acts to temporarily preserve the space where the baby tooth once was, so its replacement can erupt without obstruction. To some, the final product looks like an old Radio Flyer® snow sled, or a shoe horn you might use to maintain the shape of unworn shoes.


Does My Child Need One?


It's important to note that dental space maintainers are not required for all childhood tooth loss, and that we’re not going to suggest you create a decade worth of space maintainers as each tooth falls out of your child's mouth. Our bodies are quite effective at saving space for the loss of our front teeth as well as our incisors - it's the teeth along the sides of our mouths that tend to cause the majority of complications. Of course, each mouth is different, so be sure to discuss with us the best course of action for you and your child. If your child has recently lost a tooth, or several teeth, and it’ll be awhile before they’re scheduled to see Dr. Rader, give us a call at (208) 664-9225 to see if you should come in a little earlier.

Using a space maintainer is an affordable and effective way to ensure your child's teeth come in where they are supposed to, and when they're ready. It can have a positive effect on your wallet, reduce the amount of time your child needs to wear braces, and control the cosmetic appearance of your child's teeth and mouth.  


GenerationsDentalCDA.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

One step closer to oral probiotic supplement

Probiotic for fighting oral bacteria that causes cavities.
https://goo.gl/uyN9KJ

One Step Closer to Oral Probiotic Supplement

Mon, 03/21/2016 - 1:42pm -- Editor

It seems like probiotics are everywhere these days; yogurt, kombucha and kimchi abound in nearly every supermarket. There's good reason for this trend – greater and greater amounts of evidence continue to merge that suggest our internal microbiome influences everything from our metabolism to our moods. Recently, a new beneficial strain of oral bacteria has been isolated by researchers at the University of Florida. This strain is of particular interest because it promotes a basic pH and seems to inhibit growth of S. mutans, the major culprit implicated in caries formation.

The strain, currently referred to as A12, is found more commonly in the mouths of people with few or no cavities. The bacteria creates ammonia from two common compounds in the mouth: urea (secreted naturally by the host) and arginine (an amino acid). This property is of interest to scientists and health professionals since it directly opposes the action of S. mutans, which ferments sugar into lactic acid, eroding the teeth. However, A12 goes further than just neutralizing acid in the oral environment – research indicates the bacteria can actually kill S. mutans.

Strain A12 competes vigorously against S. mutans by secreting peroxide bursts and interfering with the processes that allow it to form biofilms. The researchers found that when strain A12 was grown with S. mutans, the latter was unable to form effective plaque structures and did not grow as rapidly as usual.

This discovery holds both diagnostic and treatment potential. First, measuring the levels of A12 in a patient's mouth compared to other bacterial species could tell dentists about the greater state of the patient's oral health. This could be used to prevent caries and gingivitis before they begin. Second, a suspension of the microbes in saline could be used as a probiotic rinse, inoculating the patient with beneficial bacteria, which along with improved oral hygiene could rapidly change the oral health of a patient in need of improvement. The NIH agrees, recently awarding a three-million-dollar grant to USF to examine the activity of A12 and similar bacteria.

Generationsdentalcda.com

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Often overlooked, dentists say mother’s oral health connected to baby’s health

An article about prenatal and pregnancy care of a mother's teeth and gingiva. Old article but a goodie; when I was the dental director at the community health center. http://goo.gl/A1I0hf

Often overlooked, dentists say mother’s oral health connected to baby’s health

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2012 Spokesman Review-By Adrian Rogersadrianr@spokesman.com

For many pregnant women, bumping up their flossing routine – much less scheduling their first dental visit in years – may fall last on their to-do lists.

But for dentists and doctors, the connections between mothers’ oral health and the health of their babies – before and after they’re born – are vitally important. 

“Prenatal dental care is huge,” said Justin Rader, director of the Dirne Dental Clinic in Coeur d’Alene. “It’s big for the fetus’s health, for the mother’s health.” 

Many women miss out, however. According to a 2010 report released by the Spokane Regional Health District, just 56 percent of women reported they visited the dentist while they were pregnant.


That kind of data isn’t available about North Idaho residents, said Linda Harder, a health education specialist at the Panhandle Health District. But, seeing a need, the district provided free fluoride treatments and cleanings to some low-income women.

“With those gals, quite a few of them had not seen a dentist in years, and it was pretty horrendous,” Harder said.

That’s during a time when women’s oral health may be at especially high risk, which research suggests could put their babies’ health at risk, too. Here’s why pregnancy is hard on mothers’ mouths – and how oral health can affect pregnancy. 

Pregnancy changes what you eat – and what you can’t stand.

For many pregnant women, the smell or taste of toothpaste induces nausea, and they brush less thoroughly. 

Meanwhile, they indulge pregnancy cravings or eat sugary snacks or sugary drinks to try to combat first-trimester nausea, which also can contribute to decay.

Then there’s the vomiting. When women experience morning (or afternoon or evening) sickness, the acid can erode teeth. 

After morning sickness, women should rinse their mouths with water and use a fluoride rinse, but hold off brushing for 20 minutes to allow the acid to dissipate, said Melissa Haidu, dental director at CHAS. The acid softens tooth enamel, and brushing them right away just makes it worse.

Pregnancy hormones affect your mouth.

Bleeding gums are common in women who never suffered that problem before pregnancy.

“A lot of my pregnant patients come in and say, ‘My gums are just bleeding and bleeding and bleeding, and I don’t know what to do,’ ” Haidu said.

Researchers say high progesterone and estrogen levels are connected to gingivitis. 

“For pregnant women, your hormones are out of whack,” said Jessica Pearson, dental department supervisor at the Riverstone Family Health Clinic in northeast Spokane.

Swollen, tender gums can lead to serious bacterial infections in your mouth, called periodontitis.

Research suggests bacteria from infections in your mouth can reach developing fetuses.

A cavity in your tooth can affect your whole body, Rader said. When pregnant women allow a cavity to go untreated, “they’re affecting not only their health but the fetal development.”

When a pregnant woman has a tooth abscess – a collection of pus, basically, as a result of decay or a broken or chipped tooth – acid and bad bacteria are injected into her bloodstream when she bites down, Rader said. The bacteria can reach the baby, slowing its development, he said.

The research isn’t conclusive, according to the oral-health report by the Spokane Regional Health District.

But early research suggests there’s an increased risk for preterm birth or low birth weight among women with dental infections, the report said. As the bacteria enter the bloodstream and then the uterus, they trigger the production of chemicals suspected of inducing preterm labor.

With every sweet kiss comes a dose of bacteria, too.

The relationship between mothers’ oral health and their babies’ health continues after the babies are born.

Each person has his or her own oral microflora, which is what dentists call the bacterial environment in your mouth. 

Good bacteria help ward off bad ones, creating a “healthy biofilm” around your teeth to protect them, Rader said. Bad bacteria contribute to tooth decay.

When mothers kiss their babies, share food or silverware with them or transfer saliva in any way, they’re transferring their bacteria. 

Women with healthy mouths will transmit less harmful bacteria to their babies, improving the child’s chances of good oral health.

“Babies are born without all the bacteria in the mouth that we have,” Haidu said. “They have some, but not the mess we have.”


Teens often ignore dental health

FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2016, 3:52 P.M.
Teens often ignore dental health - Spokesman Review.

“It’s like pouring acids on minerals,” Dr. Rader said. “You’re washing your tooth away.” -------

The teen years are hard on teeth, and Dr. Justin Rader often sees the evidence when adolescent patients open their mouths.

Frequent snacking, sugary lattes and energy drinks take their toll on the enamel of young teeth, whose owners may not be diligent about brushing and flossing.

In a free dental screening Thursday afternoon at Lakes Middle School, Rader gave a dental hygiene pitch to the patients in his chair, while their parents listened in.

Dental plaque is like “wet goo. It’s soft, so it’s easy to brush off,” the Coeur d’Alene dentist said. “But if plaque stays on your teeth longer than a day, it turns to cement. That’s when you need us to scrape it off.”

Seventeen Kootenai County teens took part in the free dental screening offered through the Panhandle Health District. In three hours, hygienists gave each of the students a fluoride varnish and put protective sealants on 87 teeth. Students who needed follow-up care got referrals and vouchers for free cleanings and fillings.

The dental screenings were part of a health fair at Lakes Middle School. Many of the students were referred by teachers, who often are the ones who spot students with tooth aches and other dental problems, said Linda Harder, the health district’s oral health program coordinator.

About 17 percent of Kootenai County residents don’t have health insurance, and even when families do, dental work can be expensive, Harder said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, teens have distinct oral health needs, including risk factors based on the potential for poor diet, alcohol or tobacco use, jaw injuries from sports and eating disorders.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen a real need in teens for dental services,” said Melanie Collett, Panhandle Health District spokeswoman. 

Asher Mattson, 18, relaxed in the dental chair Thursday while he got sealants and a fluoride varnish.

“We hadn’t seen the dentist in a long time, so we took this opportunity,” said Mattson, a student at Mountain View Alternative High School in Rathdrum, who came to the screening with his sister.

Mattson has never had a cavity. Karla Marshall, a dental hygienist, told him that she could tell he had good brushing and flossing habits. But it was time for a full check up, said Marshall, who sent him away with a referral to a dentist.

Not all teens rank that well on dental hygiene. More than 150 teens were asked about brushing and flossing during Panhandle Health District surveys in 2011 and 2012. 

About 23 percent of the students said they brushed their teeth only a few times a week. More than half never flossed.

Every child is different, said Amanda Maloney, who brought her three children to the screening. 

She has to remind her 13-year-old to brush her teeth, which seems to come more naturally to her 11-year-old.

“The pre-teen and teen years can be hard,” said Rader, the dentist. Parents are giving their children more autonomy and responsibility, so they don’t always monitor dental hygiene.

That’s why Rader works on the educational message for young patients: brush twice daily for two minutes each, floss and use a mouth rinse at night to lower bacteria levels in the mouth. 

He’s also developed some vivid imagery to describe how sipping lattes or energy drinks all day affects tooth enamel.

“It’s like pouring acids on minerals,” he said. “You’re washing your tooth away.”

Good dental habits will pay dividends for years to come, said Harder, the oral health program coordinator.

Tooth decay and gum disease are linked to a variety of problems, including poor academic performance, difficulty making friends and less success later in life, Harder said.

Poor oral health also plays a role in other types of the health problems, including heart disease, strokes and premature births in pregnant women.

http://goo.gl/DJMsKC