Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Dental Month


Are your Two & Four-legged Kids Brushing?

February is a month filled with many holidays such as President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, Mardi Gras, and many others.  However, February is also a great month in dentistry!  February celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month as well as National Pet Dental Health Month.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman do not practice dentistry on pets, but this is still something to celebrate and bring awareness to.  Let us explore how these two topics bring better dental health to the whole family.

During February, The American Dental Association, Denver Dental Association, Periodontal Associates and other dental offices in Denver and nationally rally together during this month to raise awareness among families about the importance good oral health habits in children.

Dental awareness specifically for kids originally began in Cleveland, Ohio in 1941. Then the American Dental Association held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on Feb. 8, 1949. This single day observance became a week-long event in 1955, and in 1981 the program was extended to a month-long celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month.
 
Local dental societies take great pride in celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month during the month of February.  Dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants throughout Colorado volunteer their time and expertise to conduct oral health screenings and provide educational programs in schools and for community organizations.  In fact, Dr. Eric Beckman worked an entire day giving free exams to children and checked not only for cavities, but for early signs of periodontal problems.  Dr. Beckman was a part of Give Kids a Smile.  This is a campaign that has been running for the past 9 years.  This event was held in Denver, CO on February 3rd this year.  Dentists like Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman, as well as general dentists, come together to provide free dental care for thousands of children every year.  Give Kids a Smile focuses on providing dental education and services to not just families without dental insurance but focuses on low income families.  

Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman hope to raise awareness about the epidemic of untreated dental disease occurring in Aurora, Denver, and across Colorado and across the country.  Low income families and children are more at risk for dental disease as access to dental clinics is limited for families when they are unable to afford proper transportation or a day off of work.  Not only do financially strained families have difficulty seeing a dental professional, but the education about proper home oral care is lacking.  The average person in Colorado only brushes their teeth for thirty seconds which is less than the recommended two minutes twice daily.

Periodontal Associates is a kid friendly periodontal office.  Although we do dental implants on adults, many kids seek out Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman to deal with receding gums, especially when going through orthodontic care.  Chronic gingivitis is common in children. Gingivitis is when gum tissue swells, turns red and bleeds easily. More aggressive periodontitis is seen in teenagers, but nevertheless, gum disease does occur in children. 
 
Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman do suggest parents to establish proper oral hygiene habits in their children as early as one year old.  Also, it is important for parents to be a good role model for their children to follow, making brushing and flossing more exciting and not a chore.  Lastly, be sure to schedule regular visits to Periodontal Associates for periodontal exams and cleanings.

February is Children’s Dental Health month and to some families, their pets are their children so it is fitting that February is also Pet Dental Health month.  Dogs and cats can have gum disease?  Yes, many pets suffer from gum disease and tooth decay just like us.  According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 85 percent of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease by age four.  Dr. Ken Versman and Dr. Doug Heller both have dogs, and just as they come to Periodontal Associates for their bi-annual cleanings, their pooches also visit their local veterinarian for deep cleanings.  Just like with humans, food particles and bacteria build up in the dogs’ mouths, forming plaque and tartar, which leads to inflamed gums.  With a lack of oral hygiene, periodontal disease can progress into an irreversible condition causing decay, bleeding gums, bad breath, and tooth loss.  This is the same for both humans and dogs, but most people do not realize when their pet is dealing with gum disease until a tooth becomes stuck in their favorite squeaky toy.   Unfortunately, Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman can provide you with dental implants, but your pup would be left with a gummy smile.  The image of a smiling, gummy mouthed dog might be cute, but severe gum disease can lead to infections, sometimes serious enough to cause organ damage or even death.   
Cats also suffer from dental problems.  One significant concern for cats includes tooth resorption. Dental resorption is when the body cells destruct part of a tooth.  It is unknown if this is a result from periodontal disease or an autoimmune disease so it is important to keep your pet on regular oral hygiene maintenance as well as up to date on check-ups.  Whenever these cavity-like defects occur in pets’ teeth, it can become very painful if left untreated.  In most cases, extracting these teeth is best for your furry friend.   However, without proper regular hygiene maintenance dental disease like this and severe periodontal disease can lead to full mouth extractions for your kitty. Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman do not treat cats, but the education they give to their patients is still applicable to their pets, too!

There are many commonalities between oral health for both two-legged and four-legged children.  With each category, good early habits are important in making dental care both fun and tolerable in kids and pets.  Regular cleanings, at home and dental offices, and exams by dentists like Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman or veterinarians are the only ways to prevent gum disease and maintain a beautiful healthy smile.  

Although, Periodontal Associates cannot answer all of your questions regarding your pet’s health, we strongly urge you to call our office at (303) 755-4500  or click here with any questions and to set up your next exam or cleaning.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman are specialists in treating gum disease for both you and your child.  To learn more, please visit our website at www.periodontalhealth.com. 

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Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman would like to thank you for taking the time to visit their blog and we would love to hear from you!

For more information, to schedule an appointment or a dental consultation, please visit us at www.periodontalhealth.com

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