Making the grade

Aug. 1, 2010
Starting a new school year brings expectations for students and teachers alike, especially when it comes to academic performance.

Starting a new school year brings expectations for students and teachers alike, especially when it comes to academic performance. For students, having new teachers may perhaps mean a different teaching style and some adjustment to explore how they can effectively learn to succeed. Often, emphasis is on making good grades. Progress reports and report cards usually show scores using a letter grade. Let’s correlate some letter grades with kid-friendly products.

  • A polish cup fitted for a child-size mouth is easier to use. All Pro Dental has a disposable prophy cup that makes the grade. The nonlatex angle has a smaller cup, which works well on those tiny anterior teeth. The smaller pedo cup is ribbed on the inside, soft, and bright pink. For some children this may be a first visit, or they may have had their teeth cleaned but a few times. When their comfort is taken into consideration, young patients have a memorable, positive prophy appointment.
  • Bubble gum flavor is a popular choice for children. Thankfully, many dental products are flavored to suit. Fluoride varnishes are available in bubble gum flavor and work well when applied to even the most apprehensive little one. Even though the mouth is by nature moist, fluoride varnish can still adhere and set in the spit. Wiping the teeth with a cotton gauze first or lightly air-drying the teeth offers a better surface. Varnishes can be quickly applied to treat teeth, and are a good choice for kids with a moderate to high risk for cavities or who have a strong gag reflex. Varnishes are easy to control during application, especially when using a disposable filament brush. Another advantage is that the amount applied overall is minimal. Since the fluoride is applied directly to the surface, swallowing is less of an issue than with tray-applied methods.
  • Calcium is a component of strong teeth. GC America offers MI Paste, which features calcium and phosphate ions that assist in remineralizing tooth surfaces. MI paste contains Recaldent technology. When the saliva needs a buffer or boost to remineralize in a challenged environment, the calcium is released. White spot lesions are a concern for kids in orthodontics, especially when home care is less than desirable. MI Paste helps by working around brackets and ties and helping the calcium bind to susceptible surfaces.
  • Days have long passed since chewing gum was frowned upon, unless you stick it under a desk! Another Recaldent product is Trident Xtra Care gum. Some gum manufacturers add the beneficial sweetener xylitol to their chew. When poor home care is a concern, introduce a habit children can sink their teeth into.
  • Even fluoride trays make dual-arch fluoride applications simple. This durable tray works with low suction inserted into the molded tray. Fluoride foam is spurted into the top and underside. Don’t be duped into sterilizing the tray; it is so sturdy you might think it’s sterilizable!
  • Friendly pediatric brushes complete with automatic timers are sure to help kids stay motivated and encourage them to brush longer. Philips Sonicare has a smaller version of its adult-size Sonicare with a younger user in mind. Sonicare for Kids has a pacer that alerts the child when it is time to move along. The child version has musical tones and customizable design plates that can be changed on the handle.

The use of size-appropriate products makes appointments more comfortable for the children in your practice. Help kids get a great report by recommending remineralizing medicaments. Pediatric products make the grade.

The author did not receive compensation for products mentioned.

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis’ Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates.

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