February Q&A: Educating Parents of Pediatric Hygiene Patients

Ask IDH - February 11, 2019

Jennifer, RDH – Boulder, CO
I receive numerous questions from the parents of my pediatric patients concerning the importance of early oral health habits. Additionally, parents often ask for tips to help encourage their child to cooperate when introducing new methods to care for their teeth into their daily routine. How can I provide enough crucial information to parents without overwhelming them and do you have any suggestions to help encourage children to participate?

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, RDH
It is always a positive sign when parents are interested in learning more about proper oral health for their children at a young age. Parents often don’t know where to begin. Furthermore, many common misconceptions about pediatric oral health create more confusion. Parents often rely on information provided by family members based on outdated oral health practices. Theories such as primary teeth cavities do not affect permanent teeth, flossing primary teeth is not necessary, dental sealants are not safe for pediatric patients, and children do not need to attend annual dental appointments until all permanent teeth are present, discourage parents from seeking treatment until after a potentially harmful oral health condition exists.

Educating parents on disease and caries prevention in a manner that is easy to understand is critical. Provide a clear overview of why preventative oral health habits should begin as soon as soon as deciduous teeth begin to erupt. Creating a timeline for the suggested frequency of dental visits based on a patient’s age and existing conditions is a great place to start.

Encouraging proper dietary habits is often overlooked. Another common misconception is that sugar found in healthy foods, such as fruit, does not cause tooth decay and enamel erosion at the same rate as foods that contain “bad sugars,” such as candy and drinks with artificial sugars.

Finally, provide an easy-to-follow checklist of tasks to add to a child’s routine. Reviewing the best practices for tooth-brushing frequency, when to begin using fluoride toothpaste, how much toothpaste should be dispensed onto the toothbrush, flossing techniques, and appropriate use of mouth rinse, will provide clear guidelines for daily management of their child’s dental health.

While every child is different, advancements in pediatric dental products have significantly improved parents’ ability to entice children to engage in hygiene habits. Toothbrushes, including those with superheroes, princesses, and popular animated characters, brightly-colored dental floss picks, and flavored mouthwashes, are just a few of the kid-friendly products on the market to make dental care fun. During my time as a dental hygienist and as a practicing dentist, my patients have shared successful non-clinical tips to make hygiene less stressful for children and parents. Involving the entire family in a child’s daily hygiene routine is one way to encourage consistency. Creating a game that involves brushing their teeth, such as playing music and challenging their child to complete their hygiene routine by the end of a song, can create a helpful distraction from this mundane task. When all else fails, there are apps to help encourage proper oral hygiene habits for children!

Regardless of the creative options parents employ, the important thing for them to remember is they have taken the most important step by working with their child to exercise positive hygiene habits.

January Q&A: Nonabrasive Prophy Paste

Ask IDH - Januray 14, 2019

Danielle C., RDH, Charlotte, NC
With so many new materials released every year, it is difficult to keep up with the information necessary to stay current on new products. Is there an area of materials advancing that you are particularly excited about at the moment?

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, RDH
Dental hygienists who make it a priority to be well-informed on developments in hygiene materials are able to play an active role in treatment planning for patients.

If you work in an office that offers cosmetic dentistry, especially with CAD/CAM restorations, it is extremely important to be mindful of the type of prophylaxis (prophy) paste that you are using. Recent advancements have shown that some of the coarser prophy pastes can actually ditch margins of composites and scratch anterior composites, resulting in the loss of the polished surface of the composites and reduction in the lifespan of direct or indirect resin restorations. With ceramic restorations, coarse prophy pastes can deteriorate the surface stain and glaze, resulting in the loss of the surface staining or a reduction of the surface luster of the restoration. New, nonabrasive prophy pastes are available that hygienists can use to replicate the prophy process without damaging the restorations, thereby preserving the significant efforts of the dentist and acting as a lasting, cost-saving measure for the patient. I urge you to research this area to identify your preferred prophy paste.

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