What You Need to Know About Treatment of Sleep Apnea

What You Need to Know About Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that can cause discomfort and tiredness for many people. There are multiple causes that can lead to the condition. Here we’ll cover some of those causes and address some of the treatments.

What are the most common causes of sleep apnea?

There are two main types of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The other form is called central sleep apnea and is a result of the brain not sending the correct signals to allow a person to breathe during sleep. OSA is caused by some kind of obstruction to the airways. Both the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the UK National Health Service list some of the most common causes of this obstruction. Among these are obesity, large tonsils, excess growth hormone leading to increased throat size, age, and changes in facial bone structure.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Sleep apnea is typically treated through the use of a CPAP machine. This stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The machine works by continuously and gently pumping air into a mask worn over the mouth and nose during sleep. This works by preventing your airways from narrowing while you sleep, thus improving your breathing. However, there are other options. An alternative is a device called a mandibular advancement device (MAD).

Although a post on the Harvard blog site suggests that this may not be effective for those with the more severe forms of the condition, a MAD may be useful for those with mild sleep apnea.

A MAD is a gum-shield-like device that works by pushing the lower jaw forward during sleep. This helps to open the airway, reducing breathing pauses. Its main advantage over the CPAP machine is increased comfort. Comfort is important in treating sleep apnea as compliance with the treatment is necessary for success. A MAD allows a patient to sleep on their side, rather than on their back, as with the CPAP.

Why should I see a dentist about sleep apnea?

Dr. Mandanas is a dentist, and you may be wondering what sleep apnea has to do with your teeth. However, Dr. Mandanas prides herself on her holistic and integrative approaches to dentistry. As a result of her experience with the mouth and its structure, she has a good idea of when patients may have an oral structure that could lead to sleep apnea. Although Dr. Mandanas is not able to provide diagnoses, she is able to identify symptoms and recommend a visit to your doctor to get a proper diagnosis.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, contact Dr. Mandanas and she will be able to help with finding a treatment that works for you!

Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: Know the Facts

Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: Know the Facts

If you have diabetes, your doctor has probably talked to you about the risks associated with periodontal disease.

It is now widely accepted in the medical community that diabetes and periodontal disease have a two-way relationship–diabetics are more likely to get periodontal disease and people with periodontal disease are more likely to get diabetes OR to experience increased difficulty controlling preexisting diabetes.

Understanding the relationship between these two diseases can help you take better care of your overall health.

What Is Periodontal Disease and How Is It Related to Diabetes?

Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is a common infection of the gums that can lead to bone loss in the jaw and teeth. It is estimated that one-half of the U.S. populate of 30 years old and older has periodontal disease, including 60% of 60 year-olds. Severe periodontal disease affects 10-15% of adults.

Periodontal disease starts as plaque that worsens and progresses beneath the gum line, causing inflammation of the gums. It is speculated that the bacteria in gums infected and inflamed by severe periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and cause a reaction in the body, including the increase of blood sugar levels, although the link is not completely understood. Diabetics understand the implications of increased blood sugar levels for complicating their disease. The combination of diabetes and severe periodontal disease is dangerous for your health.

Diabetics with severe periodontal disease have an increased risk for:

Generally speaking, periodontal disease makes controlling diabetes and taking care of your overall health much more difficult.

On the other hand, diabetics are at a higher risk for periodontal disease, making it a compounding problem. Susceptibility to periodontal disease is increased by approximately threefold in people with diabetes, according to the National Institutes for Health. In addition, people who are not diabetic have a higher risk of having higher long-term blood sugar levels and developing diabetes if they have severe periodontal disease.

For these reasons, the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease have become a part of diabetic management. Doctors recommend that everyone, especially diabetes patients, follow best practices for oral hygiene, including brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist once every six months. They recommend that you ask your dentist to check your gums for periodontal disease. Proper treatment of periodontal disease can drop blood sugar levels, reducing HbA1c counts by as much as 0.4%.

When was your last dentist appointment? Dr. Mandanas is an Anchorage holistic dentist who has been studying the connection between the mouth and the body for years. She understands the link between diabetes and periodontal disease and she can have an informed discussion about your questions and concerns with you. She would be happy to know that you are proactive about educating yourself and taking care of your overall health.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas today!

Here's Why You Should Go to a SMART Certified Dentist in Anchorage

Here’s Why You Should Go to a SMART Certified Dentist in Anchorage

If you’ve opened this blog, you are probably wondering what “SMART certified dentist” means.

Our very own Dr. Mandanas is a SMART certified dentist in Anchorage. We are very excited to share how this certification makes us different from other dentists and what makes it so beneficial to our patients!

You’ll learn why going to a SMART certified dentist matters. We hope you get a lot out of this blog, especially the information you need to make a smart choice about your dental provider (wink, wink). Enjoy!

What Does “SMART Certified Dentist” Mean?

The acronym SMART stands for the Smart Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique. The SMART certification is something administered by the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology (IAOMT), a global network of dentists, health professionals, and scientists who research the biocompatibility of dental products.

Biocompatibility (our definition) – Compatibility with the mouth and body, typically used in reference to dental treatments and devices, meaning that they do not pose a risk to the health of the mouth and body.

You can learn more about biocompatibility in our blog, What Is Biocompatible Dentistry? Philosophy and Practice.

The IAOMT is especially interested in the risks associated with mercury amalgam fillings. The Smart Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) was created to protect the mouth and body against those risks.

Why Does Going to a SMART Certified Dentist in Anchorage Matter?

So what are the risks of mercury amalgam fillings and why does going to a SMART certified dentist matter?

The risks of mercury amalgam are not agreed on by the scientific community. Mercury amalgam fillings release low levels of mercury in the form of vapors over their lifetime. The levels of mercury vapors released by amalgam fillings are not high enough to pose a risk to your health. Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have marked amalgam fillings safe for use in dental practice. However, studies have shown changes in the health complaints of patients who have had their amalgam fillings removed, though the exact reasons for these results have yet to be determined

There are many reasons why you might want to get your mercury amalgam fillings removed besides concern over mercury vapors. Mercury amalgam fillings have a lifespan of 10-15 years, which means they need to be replaced if they are getting old or worn. They can also cause teeth to chip and crack. You can learn more in our blog, 5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Amalgam Fillings Replaced.

Because health complaints have been correlated with the removal of mercury amalgam fillings specifically, when you need to get your fillings removed, you should go to a SMART certified dentist. A SMART certified dentist is trained to protect you from the risks of mercury amalgam and they will replace your fillings with composite, a material that is known to be biocompatible, or, safe for your mouth and body.

What Is the Smart Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique?

The Smart Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique is a protocol that SMART certified dentists use to remove mercury amalgam fillings as safely as possible. We have broken it down into 10 easy-to-understand steps in our blog, What Is the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique? Get SMART About Your Fillings. The protocol includes water separation and air filtration devices, mercury absorbent cleaning materials, protective coverings, and more.

Do you need fillings or are you interested in getting your mercury amalgam fillings removed? We would love to get you in to see our SMART certified dentist here in Anchorage, Dr. Mandanas. She can discuss your treatment options with you and talk more about the risks of mercury amalgam. Schedule an appointment today!

(Video) Which Is the Best Solution for Your Child? Healthy Start vs Braces

(Video) Which Is the Best Solution for Your Child? Healthy Start vs Braces

Braces have long been the mainstay of modern orthodontics, but as the scientific community learns and progresses, effective alternatives to the traditional wire and bracket method of teeth alignment emerge (thank goodness!). One of those is Healthy Start. Born in a world where braces are the go-to orthodontic treatment, you are probably wondering if Healthy Start can truly deliver on its promises for your child. As a provider of Healthy Start, Dr. Mandanas affirms that yes, it can! Read on for an open discussion of healthy start vs braces.

Healthy Start Is a Holistic Approach to Orthodontic Care

Let’s start by recapping how Healthy Start works. Whereas braces are applied once your child’s adult teeth have already come in, Healthy Start is used while they are coming in. What this means is that your child’s adult teeth create roots and fibers in the right place to start (i.e. a Healthy Start!) rather than having them tweaked and adjusted after the fact. When these fibers are stretched into the right place with braces, they have a tendency to bounce back. That’s why ex-braces wearers are required to wear removable and sometimes permanent retainers.

Healthy Start is a holistic approach to orthodontic care. The Healthy Start treatment takes into consideration the patient’s entire lifetime and what will work for them over the long-term, which is treating misalignment early. It also considers the effects of orthodontic care on the whole body, including the mouth, jaw, and throat. Healthy Start can help prevent and treat jaw issues such as TMJ, something braces are infamous for. By treating jaw issues, it can open your child’s airway, which has significant ramifications for their breathing, sleep, and related behavioral issues.

Healthy Start Is More Comfortable Than Traditional Braces

What are some of the top complaints pre-teens, teens, and young adults make about braces? Perhaps if you had braces when you were younger, you will remember some of your woes. Braces can be unattractive and painful (especially after adjustment), they limit many of the things you can eat and they can be impossible to clean. Healthy Start, on the other hand, is a simple, wire-free “mouthguard” that only has to be worn at night and gently adjusts the teeth and jaw. Watch this video on what patients and providers think about Healthy Start vs braces!

Yes, Braces Are Easier to Comply With Than Healthy Start

Because a Healthy Start patient must remember to wear their mouthguard for a couple hours each day and every night, there is some responsibility required. Braces are fixed to a patient’s teeth which makes them by nature easier to comply with. Many would argue, however, that the benefits of Healthy Start vs braces far outweigh the compliance challenge and patients who are committed to their health will experience positive results.

Healthy Start Is Cheaper Than Traditional Braces

Healthy Start is widely estimated to be half the cost of traditional braces. This is due to two factors, the high cost of braces hardware and the cost of frequent visits for braces adjustments. Healthy Start mouthguards are cheaper and do not need to be monitored as closely as braces.

When it comes to Healthy Start vs braces, which will you choose? We hope this information sheds some more light on the matter and helps you clarify your decision. To continue the conversation or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mandanas regarding Healthy Start and your child, contact us today! Dr. Mandanas has been using Healthy Start to treat misalignment for 10 years. You can also take the Initial Sleep & Speech Questionnaire provided by Healthy Start to assess the viability of this treatment for your child. We hope to hear from you soon!

What Is a Mandibular Advancement Device? (How It Works)

What Is a Mandibular Advancement Device? (How It Works)

Do you or a loved one suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? If so, your dentist may have recommended a mandibular advancement device (MAD), an up and coming alternative to the CPAP machine. Now you might be wondering, “What exactly is a device like this and how does it work?” We’re happy to answer these questions for you today. Dr. Mandanas has been successfully treating OSA patients with oral devices for years and her passion is helping people find a solution that works for them. Enjoy learning from her expertise!

Are you ready to get MAD about sleep apnea? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas!

What Is a Mandibular Advancement Device and How Does It Work?

The mandibular advancement device (MAD) is an alternative treatment to the CPAP machine for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is a sturdy, plastic, oral device that fits over the upper and lower teeth much like a mouthguard with a hinge in the middle. It works by gently advancing the lower jaw (mandible) forward during sleep. Because the lower jaw is attached to tongue behind the chin, the MAD advances this tissue as well, preventing it from collapsing over the airway (causing obstruction), thereby preventing OSA.

For many years, the mandibular advancement device has been proposed as an effective alternative to the CPAP machine for treating mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea, especially when the patient is considered a “CPAP reject.” A CPAP reject is someone who cannot tolerate the CPAP machine, which is very common. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine works by forcing air through the patient’s airway to keep it open throughout the night. The air is administered from the machine to the patient by means of tubing and a mask. Both the mask and the forced air can be very uncomfortable, causing patients to remove the mask.

The mandibular advancement device is often preferred by the patient and is historically better for treatment adherence than the CPAP machine. That said, whether or not the MAD can treat severe cases of OSA is still under study. One of the latest scientific articles regarding these studies was published in January of 2018. The article confirmed the growing body of evidence that the MAD is an effective alternative to CPAP (in large part due to patient adherence) and typically preferred by patients when given a choice. From the article:

“There is now a strong body of evidence supporting their (oral appliances) use in OSAHS and clinical guidelines now recommend their use in mild OSAHS and in more severe cases when CPAP fails.”

Journal of Thoracic Disease

“It seems that the higher efficacy of CPAP is offset by greater MAD compliance.

Journal of Thoracic Disease

The factors that determine whether or not a dentist will recommend the mandibular advancement device include:

  • The severity of your obstructive sleep apnea
  • The structure of your upper airway
  • Any other medical issues you may have
  • Your personal preference

If you think the mandibular advancement device might be right for you or your loved one who suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, we would love to get you in for an appointment with Dr. Mandanas. The MAD has helped many patients who are “CPAP rejects” sleep deeply through the night and wake up feeling fully refreshed with energy throughout the day! Dr. Mandanas has a strong understanding of what makes someone a good candidate for the MAD. Please schedule an appointment with our office today.

We're Your Anchorage Holistic Dentist. Here's What That Means.

We’re Your Anchorage Holistic Dentist. Here’s What That Means.

Out of all the options for dental care in Anchorage, why should you go to your local, holistic dentist?

It’s true that other dentists offer many of the same services that we do, including general and cosmetic dentistry, implants, dentures, and sedation. It’s also true that we have all the same credentials.

So what makes us so different?

Your Anchorage holistic dentist considers some traditional dentistry practices harmful to the human body, whether or not they are beneficial to the teeth and gums. We provide natural alternatives to these traditional dental treatments that promote the health of your teeth and gums without harming your overall health.

Read this article and explore the links to see what we mean. If you agree with our perspective, you may want to switch to your Anchorage holistic dentist.

Ready to make the switch to your Anchorage holistic dentist? Send us a message or give us a call at (907) 276-5522!

1. Your Holistic Dentist Cares About the Health of the Whole Body

Your dental health has a greater impact on your overall health than you may think, affecting things like:

Explore the links above that interest you. We have done a lot of research on the connections between dental health and mental and physical health. The treatments you receive at our office are designed with this information in mind and will always promote your overall health, not just your dental health.

2. Your Holistic Dentist Looks for Natural Alternatives

Whenever a dental issue arises, we will recommend the most natural, non-invasive treatment first, such as:

All these treatments are intended to cause the least damage to your mouth and body and protect you from exposure to unnecessary chemicals.

3. Your Holistic Dentist Wants to Make Change for the Better

Many of the alternative dental treatments we provide are in response to patient discomfort and illness with traditional treatments. There are two in particular that we are most passionate about.

Our primary motivation is to provide dental care that is in your best interest.

If you have found that some of these topics are important to you, we would love to talk. Let’s get you in for an appointment with your Anchorage holistic dentist. Send us a message or give us a call at (907) 276-5522!

What Does Sleep Apnea Look Like in a Child?

What Does Sleep Apnea Look Like in a Child?

Is your child snoring heavily at night or have you heard that ADHD can be linked to childhood sleep apnea and you think your little one may be a candidate? Sleep apnea displays differently in children than it does in adults. Take a look at some of the symptoms that may indicate your child has sleep apnea.

Did you know that 1-4% of children may have sleep apnea, many of them between the ages of 2-8 years old?

American Sleep Apnea Association

Whereas obesity is the primary risk factor for sleep apnea in adults, for children, enlarged adenoids and tonsils are more likely to blame, although some children’s sleep apnea can be linked back to obesity. Other risk factors include down syndrome, abnormalities in the skull or face, cerebral palsy, sickle cell disease, neuromuscular disease, a history of a low birth weight, and a family history of obstructive sleep apnea, according to the Mayo Clinic. Dental issues can also be underlying conditions. To learn more, read Dr. Mandanas’ blog about dental signs of sleep apnea.

Nighttime Symptoms of Childhood Sleep Apnea

Your child doesn’t have to struggle with snoring to have sleep apnea; they may simply be experiencing extremely disturbed sleep. Nighttime symptoms include:

  • Snoring
  • Heavy Breathing
  • Chronic Mouth Breathing
  • Long Pauses in Breathing
  • Snorting, Coughing, or Choking
  • Sleeping in Odd Positions
  • Restless Sleep (Tossing & Turning)
  • Teeth Grinding
  • Sweating
  • Bed Wetting
  • Sleep Walking
  • Night Terrors

Daytime Symptoms Childhood Sleep Apnea

Adult, daytime sleep apnea symptoms typically revolve around fatigue, but childhood symptoms typically have to do with behavioral issues. Daytime symptoms include:

  • Difficulty Waking Up
  • Naps
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Nasal-ey Voice
  • Behavioral Problems
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty Paying Attention
  • ADHD
  • Irritability
  • Cognitive Issues
  • Headaches
  • Learning Problems
  • Poor Performance at School
  • Social Issues
  • Poor Weight Gain
  • Stunted Growth
  • Frequent Infections

Dental Treatments for Childhood Sleep Apnea

Many parents do not treat their child’s sleep apnea under the assumption that they will “grow out of it,” however, untreated sleep apnea has many short-term and long-term consequences for children.

Children need restful sleep for healthy cognitive and physical growth and development. When they are deprived of this, they can struggle with behavioral and health issues in their childhood and in their adult life.

One of the most common treatments for childhood sleep apnea is the CPAP machine, although some cases require surgery or medicine. Unfortunately, many children are “CPAP rejects,” which means they cannot tolerate the CPAP machine because it is uncomfortable and annoying. Dr. Mandanas and many other integrative dentists like her offer an effective alternative to CPAP.

For many children, Dr. Mandanas can provide a dental appliance that pushes their lower jaw forward to keep the tissue in the mouth from collapsing and blocking the airway when it relaxes at night. This appliance is far more comfortable than CPAP and Dr. Mandanas has found that her child patients have little trouble adhering to the treatment.

When your child sees Dr. Mandanas, she will assess whether or not a dental appliance may be right for them. She may combine this treatment with lifestyle and dietary changes if your child is overweight. For children who have overly enlarged tonsils and adenoids, she may refer your child to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist whom she recommends. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Dr. Mandanas for your child’s sleep apnea, give us a call!

How Dentists Care for Children with Behavioral Disorders

How Dentists Care for Children with Behavioral Disorders

If your child has a behavioral disorder like oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may be wondering what your options are for dental treatment.

In general, children with behavioral disorders are more likely to have poor oral health. According to a recent study, children with behavioral disorders are more likely to have dental anxiety, behavior management problems during dental procedures, and they are more likely to have what the study calls “DMFT” scores, which stands for decayed, missing, and filled teeth.

You may be wondering, “what is the dental field doing to help these children and parents like you?”

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has published a reference manual on “Behavior Guidance for the Pediatric Dental Patient.” In the manual, they outline best practices for dentists working with children who have behavioral disorders. We are going to talk about a few of these today!

Dental Care for Children with Behavioral Disorders

Children with behavioral disorders may respond appropriately to a dental environment or procedure until they are afraid or they feel like the situation is out of their control.

The goal of your child’s dentist will be to provide the dental care your child needs without causing undue fear or helplessness.

The way that they do this is through behavior guidance.

“Behavior guidance is the process by which practitioners help patients identify appropriate and inappropriate behavior, learn problem-solving strategies, and develop impulse-control, empathy, and self-esteem.”

Behavior Guidance for the Pediatric Dental Patient, AAPD

Many behavior guidance techniques are communication techniques. Here are a few techniques your child’s dentist may try to help them succeed at their appointment:

Ex. 1. Positive Pre-Visit Imagery – Your child’s dentist may show your child images of positive experiences in a dental environment or during a dental procedure while your child is in the waiting room, giving them the opportunity to know what to expect and ask questions while they feel safe.

Ex. 2. Direct Observation – Your child’s dentist may allow your child to watch a video of another young patient receiving a dental procedure or they may be allowed to view a procedure live before their own. This gives your child the opportunity to know what they need to do for their procedure and to ask more questions.

Ex. 3. “Tell-Show-Do” – For each procedure your child’s dentist performs, they may verbally explain to your child what they are about to do, then demonstrate the procedure for your child on a stuffed animal or something else, then finally conduct the procedure. This desensitizes your child to the “scariness” of the procedure and can shape their response.

You may have also heard of techniques like “positive reinforcement” and “distraction.” A well-trained pediatric dentist will enlist any of these communication techniques that they consider necessary for your child to have a positive experience.

If the dentist has tried everything in the book but it has not worked, if your child’s health is in good condition, and if your child’s dental needs are deemed significant enough, they may recommend sedation to conduct the procedure. As a parent, you will be fully educated on the risks and benefits of sedation and your informed consent is required to proceed if the dentist has determined that sedation is best for your child.

The dental field continues to research and learn how to better serve children with behavioral disorders and their families. There are many techniques available that can help your child have a successful visit with the dentist! If you would like to work with a dentist who has experience working with children and enjoys helping families, learn more about Dr. Owen Mandanas. Dr. Mandanas is an integrative dentist who cares about the relationship between the mouth and the mind!

7 Ways to Calm Your Child's Dental Anxiety

7 Ways to Calm Your Child’s Dental Anxiety

Many children do not like going to the dentist, but 20% are actually afraid of dental visits, something called dental anxiety or dental phobia.

For these children, an upcoming visit to the dentist is more than just an appointment, it is can be something to fear or even dread.

If you have a child in this state of mind, you are probably wondering what you can do to help them calm down and relax, especially if their fear is keeping them from receiving the dental care they need!

We hope these 7 ways to calm your child’s dental anxiety help!

1. Start Early and Be Consistent

We recommend that you take your child to the dentist as early as 6 months old or before their first birthday. This early exposure will make inroads into calming their dental anxiety from a young age, making dental visits easier as they get older and are more comfortable with the dentist.

It is also a good idea to visit the dentist on a regular basis so that your child becomes used to dental visits. Pick a dentist and stick with them so that your child can build a comfortable relationship with them.

2. Choose the Right Dentist

Find a dentist who has experience with young children and helping them calm their dental anxiety. The dentist should know how to gently explain dental procedures to children, and they should have a few tips and tricks up their sleeve for managing the dental visit.

3. Talk to Your Child About Their Visit

Prepare your child for their dental visit by telling them about it in advance and allowing them adequate time to mentally process. Speak calmly and gently explain what is going to happen. Do not tell them bad stories about your own visits to the dentist and avoid using words like “hurt,” “shots,” or “painful.” Describe the dentist as someone who helps them stay healthy. Answer any questions they may have and tell them that they can ask the dentist questions at their appointment too!

Dolls, stuffed animals, and children’s books about dental visits can be helpful tools for explaining the dentist to your child.

4. Model Good Behavior

Your child is constantly looking to you for what they should think about the world around them how they should respond emotionally. Remain calm and collected when you talk about the dentist and avoid taking your child with you on your own visit. Even if you think you are relaxed, children can pick up on subtle emotional clues that could worsen their anxiety.

5. Practice Relaxation

Before and during your child’s visit to the dentist, practice regulated, deep breathing with them. Show them how this technique can be used to calm them down whenever they feel afraid. You may also practice progressive relaxation, where your child closes their eyes and slowly tenses and relaxes their muscle groups one-by-one from head to toe.

6. Use Distraction

There are several ways you can distract your child from their dental anxiety during a dental visit:

  • Engage them in conversation
  • Discuss a recent, fun event or experience
  • Tell a story
  • Ask them to count something in the room
  • Allow them to play with a favorite toy
  • Play music

7. Exercise Positive Reinforcement

When your child displays good behavior at the dentist or is particularly brave about some part of the procedure, praise them! This will encourage them to use that behavior again in the future.

Alternatives for Children with Dental Anxiety

If none of these methods work, you may want to consider sedation dentistry for your child, or cognitive therapy.

Dr. Owen Mandanas has almost 20 years of experience working with young children at Mandanas Dental. If you would like to learn more about how she has learned to manage childhood dental anxiety, give us a call! We would love to help you make your child’s visits to the dentist as painless as possible.

How to Encourage Dental Health in a Child with ADHD

How to Encourage Dental Health in a Child with ADHD

It’s 9:00 p.m., time for your child’s bedtime routine. You politely ask your child to please go to the bathroom and brush their teeth.

Fifteen minutes later, they are running around the living room with a stuffed toy. You ask them if they have brushed their teeth. They have not. You send them in again.

Another fifteen minutes go by. Same scenario. You send them back into the bathroom with a little more firmness in your voice.

After ten minutes, you can tell that nothing is happening. You walk into the bathroom with your child and help them brush their teeth.

Sound familiar?

If you are the parent of a child with ADHD, you may be struggling to help your child stay on top of their dental health.

Today we are going to talk about how ADHD affects dental health in children, what parents can do about it, and how some dentists are trained to help parents of children with ADHD have a successful visit to the dentist.

How Does ADHD Affect a Child’s Dental Health?

Inattention and hyperactivity do more than make your child’s bedtime brushing routine difficult.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Children who have ADHD are more likely to grind their teeth during both night and day.

Poor Eating Habits

Because carbs and sugars can help children with ADHD maintain their attention, they tend to be more of a staple in these children’s lives, increasing risk for cavities.

Poor Oral Hygiene

As mentioned, children with ADHD struggle to focus on the tasks required for oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, etc.). According to one study, 48% of children with ADHD brushed their teeth every night, compared to 82% of a control group.

According to one study, 48% of children with ADHD brushed their teeth every night, compared to 82% of a control group.

Dental Caries (Cavities)

Poor eating habits and oral hygiene lead to increased risk for cavities in children with ADHD. One study indicated that children with ADHD were twelve times more likely to have decay, missing, or filled teeth.

One study indicated that children with ADHD were twelve times more likely to have decay, missing, or filled teeth.

Biting and Chewing

Children with ADHD have a higher chance of nail-biting, lip biting, and biting or chewing on objects like pens and pencils.

Risk of Oral Trauma

Children with ADHD also have a higher risk for traumatic oral injuries due to hyperactivity, running, climbing, and falling.

What Can the Parents of a Child with ADHD Do to Encourage Dental Health?

There are many things that parents can do to help their child with ADHD maintain dental health, both at home and at the dentist:

  • Use stimulating tools like mechanical toothbrushes and timers to keep the child interested in brushing their teeth.
  • Talk to the child about visiting the dentist, gently explaining to them what is going to happen. Picture books can be helpful for this.
  • Maybe give the child a tour of the dentist office prior to their visit.
  • Make sure the child is on his or her normal medications before taking them to the dentist.
  • Tell the dentist what they can do to have a successful visit with the child.

What Do Trained Dentists Do to Encourage Dental Health in a Child with ADHD?

Many children who have ADHD struggle at the dentist because they are tired, can’t pay attention, or can’t hold still in the chair. Some dentists are trained in helping children with ADHD have a successful visit. They:

  • Tell the child what to expect of the visit as well as what can be expected of them.
  • Let the child know when they are getting closer to starting a new procedure, providing advanced notice.
  • Use the “Tell-Show-Do” technique when introducing new procedures.
  • Provide short, clear instructions, one at a time.
  • “Contract” the child to behaviors, asking them to promise, “When we get to this step, will you do this?”
  • Reward positive behaviors and the successful completion of tasks with verbal positive reinforcement or toys.
  • Provide the child with plenty of short breaks.

Encouraging dental health in a child with ADHD doesn’t have to be challenging. Dr. Owen Mandanas enjoys helping parents and children with ADHD make a successful visit to the dentist. If you would like to learn more about what Dr. Mandanas can do to create a positive environment at the dentist for your child with ADHD, please reach out!