Niagara Gazette

February 21, 2014

Kid's smiles a focus of Dental Health Month

BY Michele DeLuca michele.deluca@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Six-year-old William and Sophia Brass have been regularly visiting the dentist since their baby teeth first appeared. Their mom and dad make sure they brush twice a day and give them gifts of new toothbrushes for each holiday.

But the real gift from their parents, William and Stephanie Brass, is the news delivered recently from Dr. Niusha Zohur, a dentist at Aspire Family Dental at 1705 Pine Ave., that the twins remain cavity free. 

As February is national Dental Health Month, Zohur joined other area dental health care providers in speaking out on ways parents can keep their children’s teeth pearly white; including reminders that dental health insurance can be affordable. In addition, a local non-profit is offering free dental checkups to its special-needs pre-schoolers, and representatives from a non-profit health insurance company issued a reminder that pediatric dental insurance can be extremely affordable.

As Stephanie and William underwent their regular six-month cleaning and exam recently, their dentist took some time to offer advice on keeping children’s teeth healthy.

“We recommend that checkups start at about six months, after the first tooth erupts and before their first birthday,” said Zohur, adding that parents should also guide little ones through gum cleaning, flossing and brushing two times a day, and provide a recommended fluoride treatment every six months. The treatments take about a minute and include flavors like cotton candy and cherry cheesecake to make the procedures a little more fun for children, according to dental hygienist Stephanie Kundl.

Kundl says that bringing children to the dentist at an early age helps to get them comfortable in the dentist’s chair. “It desensitizes them to the sounds and different sensations,” she explained. “Once they are older, they’re more comfortable at the dentist’s office.”

As the dentist was about to proceed with young William’s exam, she encouraged parents to help children avoid sweets and to provide fruit over fruit juice, due to the sugar content of juice. She also cautioned against allowing kids to fall asleep with sippy cups in their mouths, to prevent cavities. Her clinic, Aspire Dentistry, is promoting the need for children to have dental health insurance so that parents are more  included to keep their dental checkups and teeth cleaning appointments up to date.

Aspire has a representative from Fidelis Care onsite to register parents and answer questions about Child Health Plus, a state program that provides insurance for children under 19 who are not eligible for Medicaid and who have limited or no health insurance. “Almost all children are eligible for free or low cost health insurance  coverage through Child Health Plus,” said Sandra Hofschneider, RN, a spokesperson for Fidelis Care, which is one of the providers of Child Health Plus in the region.

“Our mission is making sure children are covered and parents are aware of the coverage available,”  Hofschneider said. “There’s really no reason for a child not to see a dentist,” she added.  For more information about Child Health Plus program in the Niagara region, parents can call Courtney Dunlap of Fidelis Care at 564-3630, ext. 22533.

In other dentistry news,  Niagara Cerebral Palsy is offering free exams to its preschool students during the last week of February as part of Dental Health Month. “We want to promote dental health, and this is the perfect time,” Cheryl Oliver, Director of Educational Services, “We know this is a very costly service, but it’s important, so we carve out time every year.”

“This is an opportunity for the children to get used to a dental clinic, be screened by a dentist, and for their parents to receive advice for long term care. “There’s a brief interaction to acclimate the child to the dental office; the sights, smells, sounds,” said Dr. Robert Jenkins, DDS, one of the clinic’s two dentists, “Our goal is for there to be a good memory of the first visit.”

According to Oliver, the clinic opened in 2001 in response to the need for special care dentistry, and for providers who accept Medicaid. The clinic specializes in treating individuals with special needs, specifically the developmentally disabled community, but also provides services to individuals without disabilities.

For more information about the NCP dental clinic and special needs dentistry, or to set up an appointment, call 297-1478, ext. 154, or visit the NCP website at www.niagaracp.org.