17 posts categorized "Dentists"

Braces: just a scam?

October 22, 2013

I had braces for exactly 2 years, from ages 14 to 16.  The "Brady Bunch" had an episode about Marcia getting braces and how she had to adjust to them, accept them.  I suppose I thought they might just be a rite of passage.

Our 13-year old's dentist suggested we have an orthodontic consultation.  "The 45-minute consultation is free," the scheduler told me, "and we will walk through the doctor's recommendations, and all of your options and costs."  From the moment we set the appointment, it felt like a bit of a sales pitch.  My daughter was taught how to scan in at the front desk computer, brush up, and where to sit, "for the next time".  From my waiting room chair, I saw an endless stream of teens scanning themselves in, brushing teeth, and sitting to wait for the doctor.

 The doctor and the assistant were super smooth and fast-talking.  They were uber friendly and joke-making.  The recommendation: extraction of 4 teeth to make room then braces, no headgear, for 24 months.  The cost: $6855.

Continue reading "Braces: just a scam?" »

Water Fluoridation in Portland: Next Steps

August 28, 2012

I have three children, one born in New York and two born in Portland.  From the time when they were all young, my husband has commented that their teeth growth has been significantly affected by their water source in the formative years.  Our first child drank fluoridated water for the first three years of their lives.  Our second two children never did.

For our youngest, we don't yet know how the earliest years have affected his teeth, as he is only turning 3.  For our middle child, she has already had carries and fillings, while our eldest seems to have the best oral health.  This could also be a result of being the best tooth-brusher among them.

As educated parents (with ample health care coverage), we have swished, taken oral fluoride supplements prescribed by our pediatrician and used fluoride toothpaste.  Even still, one of our children - born and raised in Portland - has suffered cavities.

My best estimation of what is happening in Portland and Oregon is that, indeed, "we are in a dental crisis".  One in three of our children has untreated tooth decay, and one in five has "rampant decay", which is 7 or more cavities.  

The impact on low-income communities and communities of color is disproportionate: African Americans have twice the rate of tooth decay than white counterparts, 72% of Native Americans have untreated cavities, 46% of Oregon's Latino children have untreated tooth decay.  All these issues result in absenteeism and ultimately affects a child's success in school.  This is a preventable childhood disease.  Does the swishing work?  Yes, but it doesn't help the children before kinder age. And also, what about swishing in the summer or what about teachers who might forget the swish or kids that just throw it out?

Sometimes I like to know who else is support a certain cause.  This fluoridation effort, who else supports it, aside from health, dental, or medical organizations?  Some other supporters include: Urban Leauge, Central City Concern, Children First for Oregon, p:ear, Native American Youth Association, Latino Network, African Women's Coaltion, and many more.  (Full List Here in *pdf)

Commissioner Randy Leonard has been a supporter of this effort.  The Portland City Council is holding a public hearing on water fluoridation next Tuesdsay, September 6, at 2pm in the City Hall Council Chambers.  Interested in learning more?  Please attend.

Representatives from the Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth Coalition has reached out to me and has offered to offer a Q&A situation where we can have readers email questions and concerns, to see if we can find answers.  For example: I, too, was concerned about the Harvard IQ study that is oft referenced, but - after chatting with other researchers and reading more online from a researcher-mom in Eugene - it sounds like the Harvard study is inconclusive.  I have plenty of questions about fluorosis, and - after again talking with others - it sounds like fluorosis can happen at higher levels of fluoridation but not at the level used to prevent tooth decay (0.7mg/L).  Do you have questions?  Send them over to urbanMamas@gmail.com and we will see if we can find answers.

I have suggested that we gather a group of subject-matter experts - a dentist, a medical doctor, a naturopath, maybe even a teacher who has implented the swish program at schools - to field questions from mamas and papas.  Interested in helping to coordinate this effort?  Please email us at urbanMamas@gmail.com and we will put you in touch!  Perhaps a playdate for parents and kids, where we have the opportunity to learn more?

Until then, keep talking, keep reading up on the issue, and keep informed.  It seems highly likely that this effort will pass in Portland, and we - as parents - need to educate ourselves on all the facts as it relates to fluoridating our water.

Water fluoridation in Portland: Taking the choice out of parents' hands?

August 18, 2012

We've made a case against water fluoridation here before.

Sam Adams says he doesn't care that voters have said 'no' to water fluoridation three times (in 1956, 1962 and 1980), and he will support a plan to add a $5 million fluoridation plant -- it would take at least five years to build and cost taxpayers about $575,000 a year to run once it was going. Commissioner Nick Fish, one of the two others who have publicly supported the project (Dan Saltzman is the third) told an Oregonian reporter how much poor families need fluoridation.

In a statement released Thursday, while on vacation, Fish said many hard-working families can't pay for fluoride. "With fluoridated water, simply drinking tap water gives all of our children the same opportunity to start life with healthy teeth," Fish said.

It's a bizarre argument, given that fluoride has been freely offered in Portland public schools every morning for decades. I swished the fluoride when I was in kindergarten (and my family was, indeed, poor); my kids swish the fluoride. Sure, preschoolers can't have access to fluoride unless they pay for it, but (umm) there are so many ways we don't support the health of poor families that this just seems a weird thing to plant a $5 million-plus flag in. Also, many health advocates have repeatedly noted that fluoride's benefit is topical, and there have been documented effects of fluoride poisoning -- from ingestion -- for about as long as water has been fluoridated.

According to a meta-analysis of fluoridation studies published in the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, high levels of water fluoridation had a negative impact on the IQs of children. Here's another mark against fluoridation, found on the web site of Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water:

A recently published study from Harvard found that young boys between the ages of five and ten years old who drink fluoridated water at so called “optimal” levels  of one part per million have a 500% greater likelihood of developing osteosarcoma, a rare and often fatal bone cancer, than boys who do not drink fluoridated water.  The study corroborates earlier studies on the fluoride/osteosarcoma link by the National Cancer Institute and the New Jersey Health Department.

I think the most powerful argument against adding fluoride to water, though, is that parents of babies are asked to avoid giving them fluoridated water to drink. The CDC itself, a supporter of fluoridation, says in a very carefully-worded statement that parents should not use exclusively fluoridated water to reconstitute baby formula. Baby and toddler toothpaste doesn't contain fluoride, because it's considered dangerous for babies to ingest.

I've read a book on fluoridation, and came through the experience firmly against it. I don't disagree with the use of topical fluoride; I think it's perfectly acceptable to use fluoride toothpaste. In fact, it's a lot cheaper to purchase flouride toothpaste than the natural fluoride-free alternatives (Sam and Nick, take note, poor parents now have no choice but excessive fluoridation).

I really don't think this move makes sense for any of us. If we as a city have decided that our tax dollars should support the heath of the poorer members of our community, the most efficient way to achieve that would be in health outreach to poor families -- more fresh whole foods and less sugar, more social-emotional supports for young families, more dental treatments for poor families -- than prophylactically medicating the entire city through our water system. I can't believe this is just about dental health, because there are so many better ways to approach it (and, once again! we already HAVE a fluoridation program for children in Portland!)

If the city council does indeed vote for this plan, we'll have the opportunity to overturn it. It will be expensive (money better spent on true community building and food and farms and arts and all sorts of things); it will take a lot of our time and energy; it will be seriously annoying. We already said "no." We have alternatives that work. We could spend $100,000 a year to buy toothpaste and fluoride tablets for every kid in Portland.

It's just not the Portland way, Sam & Co. Let the parents make the choices about their children's health. We can be trusted. Stop making it so clear you don't agree.

Flouride and Portland kids: news and analysis

January 11, 2011

Portland water has never been fluoridated, so most of the public concern about fluoride ingestion for kids in our city is imported from other hometowns (though we've had some past discussions about fluoride, here, here and here). I've done a little research on the topic in the past few years, helped by my dentist (an urbanMama reader who encourages even the most militant green among us to use fluoridated toothpaste because it's helpful when applied topically) and a great book, The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Kept It There. (phew.) So when I heard the news on NPR last week that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency were working together to lower the maximum recommended level of fluoride in water -- to 0.7 mg per liter from its current maximum, 1.2 mg/L -- my first thought was that it wouldn't affect us, much.

Then I started reading through the articles in greater detail, compared with the information in the book I have now on my lap, and found some interesting leaps to conclusion and some great shifts from unexpected sources. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long been the leading proponent of municipal water fluoridation, arguing that the benefit of preventing tooth decay overrode the risk of toxic effects -- and according to all government sources to date, the biggest risk is fluoridosis, or discoloration, streaks and spots on your tooth enamel. The NPR story begins: "Fluoride is a finicky friend to teeth. Too little of it, and you get cavities. Too much, and it starts to eat away and discolor the enamel of your pearly whites, " and quotes a dentist with the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry as saying, "There's a cosmetic risk, not a health risk."

There are a number of problems with these statements.

Continue reading "Flouride and Portland kids: news and analysis" »

Seeking Orthodontic Advice

July 19, 2010

And back to our regular programming.  An urbanMama recently emailed: I know this topic has been posted before, but I would love another round of advice. My 5-year-old daughter and her already-crowded little jaw are destined for braces, and we'd like to get a preliminary evaluation for orthodontia. I have two questions:

  1. Can anyone share their experiences with making a decision about doing an early round of braces/spacers/extractions/whatever? My impression is that the current practice is to do two rounds (one at age 8ish, one at 13ish), but there's controversy about whether the first round just adds expense and trauma without much payoff. I'd love to know what others have learned in researching, making the decision, and looking back on the decision.
  2. Can anyone recommend an orthodontist (not necessarily pediatric), especially in SE?

Seeking Recommendations: OHP Dentist

March 25, 2010

Mamas, have you any suggestions?

I have seen posts on urbanMamas about dentists, but I was wondering if anyone has recommendations for a dentist who takes OHP. My son is almost two and hasn't seen a dentist yet, and I am hoping some names for dentists who take OHP, my son has Capitol Dental. If anyone knows of a great dentist who works with little ones and takes this insurance, please advise! Thank you.

Dental Sealants for kids

January 17, 2008

And, while we're on the topic of teeth:

Does anyone have experience with/advice about dental sealants for kiddos?

Pediatric Orthodontist

Amy is looking for suggestions or recommendations on pediatric orthodontists:

Any recommendations for a pediatric orthodontist?  (We live in NE/ Rose City area...our dentist recommended that we see an orthodontist, as our 6 y.o. daughter has an underbite that he recommends we get taken care of sooner rather than later.  Anyone have any experience with underbite correction?  (or deciding not to...)

Seeking Oral Surgeon Recommendations

December 11, 2007

Fonda has a question for the rest of the urbanMamas community, seeking a specific dental provider:

I need to find a good oral surgeon as well as a good orthodontist (for multiple wisdom teeth removal and following orthodontic work).  We need someone who will be competent, patient, helpful in answering questions in a no-pressure way, and most of all *honest* in telling us whether the teeth really need to come out now versus wait-and-see. Have any of you had good experiences, either with yourselves or with your teenagers?  I live in Beaverton, so west side would be best.

Grown Up-Friendly Dentist

August 29, 2007

We agree with Sarah! Opinions are wanted here.  Sarah's looking for a dentist for herself.  She writes:

I've become so dependent on urbanmamas that I can't make a decision without consulting the crowd. This time it's about me though. I need a really, really great dentist and I'm counting on the urbanmamas out there for some suggestions. I'm not fully trusting my current dentist and I definately need a second opinion. I'm having anxiety about a dental procedure for the first time in my life. N or NE preferred but I'll go anywhere for the right one.

Dentist for Big People?

June 16, 2007

I have seen a lot of great recommendations and honest assessments of health care providers for families on this blog, so I am hoping I can find the help I need here.

I haven't been to a dentist in a few years. I don't have any pressing issues, the real problem is that  I don't have a dentist that I am willing to see.  Admittedly, I'm not a dentist fan. I wish I had someone like Dr. Pike when I was a kid instead of the dentist and his team of sadistic hygienists I ended up with (there may be some hyperbole in that statement...)

Anyhoo, any recommendations for a friendly dental professional? I would prefer the Eastside but will make the trek for the right person. Thanks for listening!

Pediatric Dentist

March 19, 2007

Sara needs your help:

I'm looking for recommendations for a good pediatric dentist, preferably in downtown or NE, who doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Any advice would be very welcome, as my 2-year-old  just knocked out a front tooth, so we have to get to a dentist a little sooner than we'd planned!

Pediatric Dentist: Royce or Butler?

January 15, 2007

Deb is looking for feedback on two specific dentists:

My almost 6 yr old is going to need some work. Our insurance covers two docs in our area fully, pediatric dentists Dr. Royce on SE 10th or Dr. Butler on SE Stark.

SW Dentist Recommendations?

August 09, 2006

It's time to take our son to the dentist and we're at a loss as to where to even begin. I read over the A Visit to the Dentist post from a few months ago, but the majority of the dentists recommended are on the Eastside. Can anyone recommend a good pediatric dentist in the Beaverton/Tigard/Sherwood/Lake O/SW area? Thanks in advance!

Seeking Advice on "Nursing" Caries

May 28, 2006

Sara's wrought with worry over a nursing caries situation.  Any advice, please?!?

I'd like to ask if any Mama's have had to take a very young child to a pediatric dentist for extensive "nursing" caries. I saw one thread regarding the first dental visit, but it sounded as if those babies might have been much older than mine.

I co-sleep and night nurse my 12 month old son. Last month a very small pit, confirmed to be a cavity, developed in one of his upper front teeth. Over the last few weeks, while waiting to take him to the follow up exam, all four of his front upper teeth have become ravaged with decay. They are noticeably being eaten away. I am going crazy with worry over every aspect of this, the knee jerk "night nursing" diagnosis, the idea of him being strapped down to fill cavities, the idea that they might not even fill them or that it may be too late, the risks of general anesthesia, the cost, the slow referral/appointment/interview process in light of the very rapid decay. Not to mention the guilt. Or the numerous opportunities for emotional scarring. I am losing a lot of sleep, and can not seem to find much information. I plan to call the La Lecher League this week in hopes of finding a pediatric dentist who might be able to offer us options, or support, but if any of the Mama's have suffered through this and have any suggestions or referrals I would very much appreciate them.

A Visit to the Dentist

February 20, 2006

My son, the fussy eater, likes to eat nothing more than fruit in all forms - fresh, dried, dehydrated, juiced.  We brush, floss, and use fluoride regularly.  But now that he's three, it really is time to take him to the dentist to make sure that all of the fruit and sugar consumption has not taken an adverse toll on the health of his teeth and gums.  How old was your child when you took her/him to the dentist?  Did you take your child to a pediatric dentist, or your own?  Any recommendations for a good pediatric dentist?

First visit to the dentist

February 02, 2005

I've been discussing and contemplating when to take the little guy to the dentist for the first time. I saw fit to get my own dental needs taken care of so that I could be a good example (I've been burned, and poked, and broken SO many times by so many different dentists... you better believe that this was challenging for me). In any case... he has all his first set of teeth minus those extra molars in now. I'm trying to teach him the importance of dental health and so we brush his teeth every night. Wait... let me rephrase. I have to hold him down and pin back his arms so I can attempt to get the goo out of his teeth with a toothbrush. I would say that this could be traumatic for him but as soon as it's over, he's fine. He is very eager at that point to take his fluoride drops (yum??). At some point it will be time to add the little guy to our dental plan and have a dentist look at his teeth. If I were him.... it would scare the diaper off of me. How am I going to take him to the dentist and not have him hate it more than anything? Am I just projecting my own fears onto him or is it a legitimate thing that children probably don't want some stranger with rubber hands digging in their mouth? What about choosing the right dentist... couldn't this make all the difference in the world??? How did you go about the first dentist visit? Do you have any good recommendations for a children's dentist (especially for toddlers)?