Your kid is asking for an electric toothbrush for Christmas… you wonder if it really makes a difference to their oral health?

Removing plaque effectively prevents tooth and gum diseases and ultimately prevents tooth loss.  Good oral health is only possible if you have the right tool.  Some of the factors that determine the effectiveness of your brushing technique include; motivation, knowledge and manual dexterity.  A powered toothbrush simulates the motion of manual brushing by either lateral or rotary movements of the brush head.  There are even electric toothbrushes that work at a higher frequency of vibration.  Powered toothbrushes were introduced in the 60’s and have become novelty items with advances in technology.  Many people do wonder if it is any more effective than the good old manual toothbrush.

Current research on the benefits between using a manual vs. a powered toothbrush is divided.   A review of the various research showed not all powered toothbrushes are the same.   A powered toothbrush with a rotation oscillation action (where the brush head rotates in one direction and then the other) is protective against gum inflammation and gingivitis in the short term (less than 3 months) because it is better at removing plaque when compared with a manual toothbrush.  Be aware that there are several different types of electric toothbrushes including those that work by; side to side action, counter oscillation, rotation oscillation and circular oscillation.  There are also those that are ultrasonic and use frequencies of greater than 20 kHz as well as those that are ionic and use electrical charge to disrupt the plaque.  However, these special motions of the toothbrush may not necessary be better than manual brushing.  Some people worry about an electric toothbrush being too harsh on the gum but research hasn’t shown any relationship between the use of powered toothbrushes and damage to gum tissue. Teenagers usually consume more sweets and many of them may have braces.  There is evidence to suggest that an electric toothbrush is more effective in plaque removal, especially when kids are undergoing orthodontic treatment and their teeth are harder to keep clean. The timer function of an electric toothbrush can also guide your child to do a more thorough job of brushing.

Tooth brushing is a very personal habit and we do it for many reasons; to feel fresh, avoid bad breath, avoid dental disease and have a nice smile.  There are varying factors that determine what toothbrush you choose including personal preference, affordability, availability and professional recommendation.  Many people want the latest advances in technology and enjoy the novelty therefore an electric toothbrush may be of interest.   If an electric toothbrush empowers your child to brush more so than a manual one, it is definitely a worthwhile gift for this Christmas.

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Copyright 2013 The Children’s Oral Care Centre

Does a child losing their primary maxillary incisors at an early age affect language development?

As you know language development begins very early in childhood years.  For children to articulate certain consonant sounds; for example, v, f, th, s, and z,  their upper front teeth are very important.   Upper primary incisors usually fall out and adult teeth replace them between ages of 7-9.  If a child loses their primary front teeth before the age of 7, it is most likely due to early childhood caries or dental trauma.  Most people agree that early loss of the primary maxillary incisors in a child may negatively impact their esthetic, self-esteem, mastication (chewing) and their occlusion (bite); however, there has been controversy over whether there are any negative, long lasting effect on the child’s speech development.  One study found that not all children who lost their upper front teeth (40% of the participants in the study) had some form of speech distortion.  When the parents of these children were asked, about 46% of the parents noticed their child’s speech distortion while the rest of the parents did not find any change in their children’s speech.  Another study found that Hispanic bilingual children with premature tooth loss had more problems with articulation than Hispanic bilingual children who have all their front teeth.  During the pronunciation of certain sounds; for examples, s and z, a narrow air stream is produced against the incisal edges of the anterior teeth and the teeth act as landmarks for the tongue when speaking, so it is not surprising to notice some changes in articulation soon after the loss of the primary front teeth.   These changes, nonetheless, are often transient and disappear as children learn to adapt.  Overall, the literature for research on the impact of early tooth loss and its relation to speech development is limited.  The evidence is not very strong and it is inconclusive whether premature loss of front teeth changes a child’s speech.  As we all want the best for our children, may we, at the Children’s Oral Care Centre, suggest a proactive approach – Let’s start today to establish a dental home for your child as early as age 1 and begin the  prevention of early childhood caries and dental trauma.

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Copyright 2013 The Children’s Oral Care Centre