Michelle Rupp: Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of AFMC TV. We’re so glad you joined us. You know, with Halloween coming up this weekend, we are all things dental today. Joining me this morning is Dr. Liza Lundy, dentist extraordinaire. Thank you so much for joining us today. So, I’m curious. We’ll start with Children first. Do you see pediatric?

Dr. Liza Lundy: I see children. I see all ages.

MR: Okay, you got us all. How early should a child have their first dental visit?

LL: I would recommend parents bring their child for the first visit within six months from when the first tooth appears in their mouth. I would say when they turn one should be a good age. And this visit is mainly for the child to start getting used to coming to the dentist. We try to make it as short as possible. We will polish their teeth. We will apply fluoride and mainly educate the parents on how to take care of those teeth and what to feed their child. We talk about pacifiers, thumb sucking, and what to do. Well, not to do at an early age. After this visit we do recommend that the parents bring the child every six months for their checkups.

MR: You mentioned pacifier and thumb sucking. Could those contribute to a need for braces later on?

LL: Yes. So that’s why it’s so important to detect those issues at an early age.

MR: Sometimes we might think, “Well, they’re just baby teeth, right? They’re going to fall out. The tooth fairy is going to come. We don’t have to take care of them.” But you do.

LL: You do because we don’t want to lose those too early. Baby teeth are there for a reason. If we lose them too early. For instance, those baby molars are there to preserve the space for the premolars to come out. If they come out too early, then that can affect the occlusion.

MR: Halloween … I’m sure it’s your favorite time of the year.

LL: My least favorite. I do not like candy.

MR: It’s right around the corner, and we know children will have buckets of candy because no one goes to the house that gives out raisins. We all go to the place that gives out candy bars.

LL: If you give me the option, I will give away toothbrushes. But realistically, you know, I’m not going to ask the parents not to give candy to their child. That’s just not going to happen. But as far as what to do during Halloween, when your child comes home with a bucket full of candy, sort them out. Some candies are worse than others. Stay away from anything sticky and hard. I think chocolate is a good alternative. A good time to give your child Candy would be after a meal. Make sure you brush their teeth afterward. Don’t keep that candy accessible, so they’re not constantly snacking on it. The other thing that I would suggest is to donate the extra candy.

MR: Donate it. That’s a great idea. I know my nephew used to hide his bag of Halloween candy in his closet behind some clothes so his parents wouldn’t find it.

LL: I would hide it from my kids.

MR: That’s a good idea. What are some of those healthy habits that we can begin teaching our children?

LL: First, come to the dentist regularly. That way, they don’t have that fear. They get used to coming to the dentist. We can educate the parent every time they come in for their checkup. Also, brushing their teeth twice a day – in the morning and night before bed, and flossing. Children do need to floss. They sell floss made specifically for children. Finally, their diet, stay away from sugary drinks, juices, and sodas as much as possible.

MR: What does sugar do to the teeth?

LL: It will make the enamel weaker, and the patient will be more susceptible to decay.

MR: Yes, and we don’t want fillings or cavities.

LL: We do not want cavities.

MR: Now let’s move to teenagers. They’ve lost their baby teeth. Now they’re working with adult teeth. Do they continue that six-month regimen?

LL: Yes, absolutely. It is essential to have good oral hygiene as an adult. Many oral problems will make you more at risk of developing issues like decay gum disease. Your mouth is part of your body. There’s a lot of problems that happen within your oral cavity that can affect the rest of your body. For example, if a patient has an infection that developed in the oral cavity, it could travel to distant places within your body, like your joints and even your heart.

MR: Okay. Are you able to detect disease based on the health of the gums?

LL: When the patient comes for further exam, we look at the overall picture. There are many clues in the patient’s mouth. It tells us the overall health of the patient. For instance, if the patient has periodontal disease, we treat the periodontal disease, but we feel like we cannot get it under control. We ask, “Why are we still dealing with inflammation? The patient could have diabetes and not know it. We might notice some erosion of the teeth. Why is this happening? The patient could have gastric reflux at night and not know it. The patient might be bulimic. So those are the little things that we pay attention to that are connected to your overall health.

MR: That is so fascinating.

LL: It’s not just your mouth. It’s your whole body.

MR: What do you recommend for adults? Because I know, sometimes it can be tough for an adult to come to a dentist, particularly if they haven’t been in a long time.  

LL: The one reason why many adults won’t come to the dentist is that they feel anxious and have had a bad experience in the past. We try to establish a relationship with the patient to help them relax, so they know we care. We understand why you’re anxious. We’re here to help. First, we get them to come to the dentist every six months. And, of course, that could change. Some patients need to come more often, depending on the situation. But once they come regularly, make sure you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes. Floss your teeth daily. Diet is critical like I mentioned before.

MR: I’ve heard it said before that as with anything where our health is concerned, preventative maintenance could help address a situation before it becomes a problem.

LL: Yes. Absolutely. A small cavity, for example, can very easily be fixed by just restoring it with a filling. But if the patient waits too long, it can turn into something more complex like a root canal or extraction and implant. It’s the same with periodontal disease patients. They don’t come to the dental office for their checkups and their treatment. Periodontal disease can be very easily treatable at an early stage, but if they wait too long, their teeth will loosen, and they could lose all of their teeth.

MR: We don’t want that.

LL: We don’t want that. It’s preventable.

MR: Okay. Last question, what’s the best kind of toothpaste and toothbrush to have?

LL: The one that you’re going to use correctly.

MR: That’s a good answer.

LL: I like electric toothbrushes. Not that a manual one is bad. If you’re using it correctly, that’s not a problem. The toothpaste depends on the patient. Some patients will experience sensitivity, and that means you need a sensitivity toothpaste. Some patients want more whitening. They are going to use whitening toothpaste. As long as the toothpaste has fluoride, I would say that will depend on the case.

MR: Okay, mouthwash … I haven’t heard you mention mouthwash. Is that important, or is that just kind of like … 

LL: It’s an aid. And the same thing, it depends on the case. If a patient has a high risk of getting decay. I might recommend one type of mouthwash. If it’s a patient that has periodontal disease, I might suggest something else.

MR: Okay, but it’s not a necessity like brushing twice a day and flossing. Correct?

LL: Correct. Manual removal of the plaque is essential. The mouth rinse is an aid. It will help you.

MR: Yes. Okay. Dr. Lundy, thank you so much for joining us today!

LL: Thank you for having me!