HPC partners with UHC and Optimists to sponsor Dental Coloring Contest

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

To celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) is partnering with UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas and the Olathe Noon Optimists Club to sponsor a coloring contest for third graders attending Title 1 schools in the Olathe and Shawnee Mission School Districts. Fourteen schools will be participating.

This year’s theme is around “loving your teeth” by brushing and flossing. The contest runs from now till Feb. 17. Prizes will be awarded, and winners’ artwork will be displayed at the Olathe Clinic.

Olathe Coloring Page (PDF) | Shawnee Mission Coloring Page (PDF)

Dental Hygiene

Dental Coloring ContestDental hygiene is one of the most important things we can teach our children, and it needs to start early. Excellent oral hygiene is a life skill that children will use for the rest of their lives, and it can impact their overall health and even their ability to grow and learn.

“We are so happy about this opportunity to remind kids about the importance of dental health and self-care and thrilled to do it with this fun and engaging contest,” says Laura Canelos, Director of Community Outreach for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas.

The coloring contest is a great way to remind children of the importance of dental hygiene and make it fun. Last year, the clinic, along with UHC, hosted its first coloring contest in celebration of the clinic’s 30 years of service. Nearly 300 Olathe third grade students participated. We hope to attract even more entries this year by welcoming students from Shawnee Mission’s Title 1 schools.

“We at the Olathe Noon Optimists Club are thrilled to partner with Health Partnership and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kansas to raise awareness about oral health,” adds William Shafer, President of the Olathe Noon Optimists Club. “The Optimists have a long-standing tradition of helping elementary students with dictionaries and high school students with scholarship money toward college. Participating in the Children’s Coloring Contest is the perfect type of collaboration we search for!”

There are lots of resources online on how to instruct your children about brushing and flossing their teeth. Below are some quick and easy-to-remember tips.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Brushing Teeth:

  1. Use the Right Amount of Toothpaste: The ADA recommends using a grain-of-rice-sized amount of toothpaste for children under three years old and a pea-sized amount for children ages three and older. Make sure your child spits out the toothpaste and never swallows it.
  2. Correctly Angle the Toothbrush: Angle the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline.
  3. Brush with the Proper Technique: Use tooth-sized strokes to gently brush the teeth. Make sure to entirely clean the front, back and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  4. Don’t Forget the Tongue: The tongue is full of harmful bacteria, and it must get cleaned with a toothbrush or tongue scraper every time your child brushes their teeth.
  5. Finish with Floss: As soon as two of your child’s teeth touch, it is time to start flossing. Guide the floss between the teeth, and be sure to curve it along the entire length of the tooth. Use a new section of floss for each tooth. For older kids (and adults), a fluoride mouthwash or rinse can provide additional protection.

Parents…Make it fun!

Lead by Example: Have your children watch when you brush your teeth and encourage them to try it themselves. You can even try to have your child brush your teeth while you brush theirs.

Play Some Tunes: Brushing time doesn’t have to be boring; spice it up with your children’s favorite tunes. Try to shoot for songs that are about two minutes. Singing Happy Birthday twice always works, too!

Let Your Child Choose: Let your children pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste that they like. There are lots of colorful toothbrushes with fun cartoon characters and many flavors of toothpaste.

Parents remember it is vital to receive regular checkups, provide a healthy diet and teach good oral hygiene habits. This will help prevent cavities and keep those smiles bright.

HPC provides dental services to children and teens and accepts Medicaid and other insurance plans. We also offer a sliding fee discount program for those who qualify. To schedule an appointment, call 913-648-2266. To learn more about our services, visit https://hpcks.org/our-services/dental/.

Dental Health Month - Coloring Contest Sponsors

Oral Health Kansas Recognizes Two Health Partnership Dental Professionals

Nader and Christina

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) is proud to announce that two of our dental professionals were awarded Excellence in Oral Health awards recently. Nader Rastgoftar, DDS, Dental Director, known by patients as “Dr. Nader,” received the Outstanding Dentist Award and Christina Cook, RDH, Outreach Coordinator, the Outstanding Dental Hygienist Award.

 The awards were presented by Oral Health Kansas’ board president Sonja Armbruster and board secretary Dr. Nick Rogers at their annual conference. Both Dr. Nader and Ms. Cook received their respective awards for going beyond the call of duty and their commitment to better oral health for all Kansans.

Nader Rastgoftar, DDS

Nader RastgoftarFor Dr. Nader the idea of working in the healthcare field started with a severe broken wrist in 2003, the same year he migrated from his home country of Iran to the United States. Requiring emergency surgery on his wrist, Dr. Nader witnessed firsthand how a healthcare provider can leave a positive and lasting impact on a person’s life. Because of his doctor’s excellent care and positive bedside manner, his wrist healed with full functionality. This eventually propelled the young engineer toward a whole new career—dentistry.

Several years later, Dr. Nader enrolled and was accepted to UMKC School of Dentistry and soon discovered that the manual dexterity, problem solving and artistic aspect of dentistry to be very similar to his previous experience in engineering. After graduating in 2015, he immediately started practicing as a general dentist at HPC, a federally qualified health center in Olathe, Kan. He was later named Dental Director in 2021.

Dr. Nader brings a unique perspective to oral health. As an immigrant himself, he understands the importance of access to care in vulnerable populations. The immigrant population is especially at higher risk of developing dental and periodontal diseases. The clinic serves a high number of immigrants and those who are uninsured. Besides English, he also speaks Farsi, Turkish and some Thai, Arabic and Spanish, which often helps patients feel more comfortable and at home. Dr. Nader strongly believes that providing high quality, culturally competent and accessible dental care to everyone, regardless of his or her ability to pay, not only makes a difference in that person’s life but also elevates the overall health and wellness of the community.

Over the last couple of years, Dr. Nader has been on the front lines of COVID-19… often uncharted territory. He has shown exceptional leadership and helped implement several capital improvements to the Dental Department to protect patients and staff while navigating ways to provide quality and safe dental care during a pandemic. While most dental services were suspended due to COVID, Dr. Nader and his colleague triaged and evaluated dental emergencies and provided treatment when needed. When he assumed leadership responsibilities in 2021, he immediately focused on restarting services and supporting the staff.

Dr. Nader continues to build a strong culture among his team while balancing job resignations and welcoming new staff. He has accomplished the hiring challenge by ensuring new hires bring with them a thirst to learn and a positive attitude. The technical skills are teachable, but a person must be able to demonstrate and live the mission. There is no better example than Dr. Nader. With a servant’s heart, he values both staff and patients, brings a high level of humility and is always there, listening and caring for all.

Over the last year, Dr. Nader restarted dental services in Ottawa, Kan. twice a month, providing needed dental access to children living in rural communities. In addition, the clinic’s school-based portal dental program has been rebooted. Last calendar year, the Dental team screened and provided fluoride treatments to thousands of children at more than 20 Title 1 schools in the Olathe and Shawnee Mission School Districts. Children without dental homes are encouraged to follow up with Dr. Nader at the clinic. Under his direction, dental services are also provided at Shawnee Mission West High School at the clinic’s school-based clinic in Overland Park, Kan.

In addition, Dr. Nader and his team work tirelessly to support uninsured children experiencing severe emergency dental pain associated with abscesses, broken teeth, severe toothaches and other emergencies. The clinic provides both preventive and restorative care to children and young adults. About 25 percent of pediatric dental visits involve emergencies. Dr. Nader and his team are always looking at ways to address the needs of children’s oral health.

Dr. Nader strongly believes educating parents and children about proper oral care habits—from an early age—is vital to their overall health. Prevention is always better than the cure, he always says. He and his team attend community health events to help educate parents and children about the need for brushing, flossing and eating right.

This summer, Dr. Nader and his staff attended the Olathe Public Schools’ Back to School Community Outreach Event. The Dental team provided 38 dental screenings and fluorides and identified seven painful abscesses, which Dr. Nader was able to write orders for antibiotics and follow up appointments were made. The impact: Seven children are now ready to start the school year off, pain free!

Last year, Dr. Nader advocated expanding the Dental Department services to include porcelain bridges for adult patients. His first case of a three-unit porcelain anterior bridge was completed in February 2022. The patient’s life was transformed. Prior to the procedure, she wore a fabricated three-unit basket metal bridge which was uncomfortable and unsightly. Today, she feels more confident and loves her new smile. The impact is priceless.

Dr. Nader’s welcoming environment extends to foster parents and children. Many children who visit the clinic are on the Autism Spectrum and often have sensory issues. It is often difficult for them to tolerate someone probing around in their mouth. But Dr. Rastgoftar and his staff have always been very sensitive to their needs and make accommodations whenever possible.

Besides providing dental care, Dr. Nader is a member of the executive team and an active member of the clinic’s Quality Improvement Committee, putting the priorities of the clinic’s Dental department in focus. He continues to develop and update policies and procedures to ensure safety and quality.

Away from the clinic, Dr. Nader enjoys spending time with his wife and three young boys and loves grilling, watching football, fishing and gardening.

Christina Cook, RDH, Outreach Coordinator

Christina Cook

Helping patients become a healthier version of themselves is a driving force for Christina Cook, RDH, Outreach Coordinator, who serves as a registered dental hygienist at HPC.

Since becoming a dental hygienist in 2009, Ms. Cook’s commitment to improving oral health, reducing oral disease risk factors such as smoking or vaping and addressing poor nutrition, lack of access to oral health care and oral hygiene education and the need to incorporate oral health early in the development of children, has never faltered. It has only grown stronger.

Ms. Cook joined HPC in October 2019 just months before the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. She came with a solid background working in a school-based setting and was looking forward to jumpstarting the clinic’s School-Based Portal Dental Care program. However, the pandemic threw a curve ball, and all dental services were temporarily suspended. But Ms. Cook stayed positive and knew in her heart that the clinic would eventually need her expertise.

With the introduction of vaccines and lowering infection numbers, the CDC and American Dental Association, announced the return to onsite dental care. Upon her return to the clinic, Ms. Cook set into motion the steps needed to help restart dental services and to be ready when schools welcomed back onsite dental services. As the Outreach Coordinator, she was the key lead in developing a return plan to the schools, ensuring the clinic was meeting the new needs and requirements of the school district, interfacing with school and health care administrators, nurses, parents and patients.

Last school year, Ms. Cook saw 6,000 youngsters in more than 20 schools and, on average, identified six patients per school with dental emergencies. Her supervisor says she has revolutionized the way the clinic is now able to provide services to the school. And school nurses agree.

A school nurse at Fairview Elementary School in Olathe, Kan. recently sent a letter writing how grateful she was to everyone associated with Health Partnership’s dental services and for totally changing the landscape of dental care in the community and making a phenomenal, positive impact on the dental health of children and families. She also called out to Ms. Cook. “I want to specifically thank Christina…for her excellent communication, effective and flexible plans and procedures, commitment to reduce workload for nurses dealing with COVID and the relentless, empathetic interventions to provide screenings and dental care for families. It was absolutely amazing!”

Ms. Cook’s intuitiveness is so appreciated by school nurses. Her gentle reminders, patience and wonderful assistance in scheduling and conducting the screenings make the process easy and fast. Her professional excellence and kindness have truly impacted the community and the future is much brighter for those children.

In addition to 20 elementary schools, Ms. Cook provides monthly dental services at Shawnee Mission West High School, Health Partnership’s school-based health clinic in Overland Park, Kan. As more staff is hired, it is anticipated additional services will be offered.

Her strong work ethic, patient care skills, knowledge and experience have made a huge difference at the clinic. She can work harmoniously with others and is honest, dependable and incredibly hard-working. When there was a lull in patient care during the pandemic, Ms. Cook volunteered to help paint the Dental Department—knowing it would be a more welcoming environment for patients. She is also a member of the clinic’s 30th Anniversary Committee and has volunteer to attend health fairs and marketing events. In addition, she wrote two health blogs that were shared on the clinic’s social medial sites—furthering the messaging around preventative dental care. This giving heart is what makes Ms. Cook an asset to the organization.

Ms. Cooks’ rapport with patients is heartwarming, and they appreciate her kind and realistic approach to patient care. More than 94 percent of patients surveyed rate Ms. Cook and dental services provided as “very satisfied.” Ms. Cook understands that not all patients like going to the dentist. Some have anxiety about it, others have a more severe fear that makes them much harder to treat in such a short period of time. As a hygienist she knows that she must not only perform her job well and quickly but also make patients feel safe and comfortable. She takes this responsibility seriously and works tirelessly to ensure patients return to the clinic.

Ms. Cook is a true team player and always manages to foster positive discussion and bring the best out of not only her teammates but her supervisor as well. Her supervisor says that there is no project too large for her. Ms. Cook recently took the lead with an HRSA Capital Grant, allowing the Dental Department to purchase much needed equipment to the tune of $120,000. She rolled up her sleeves and developed a procurement process, aligned with our Finance Department, to include equipment specifications and bid reviews, vendor selections and recommendations for dental chairs for patients and staff. The process went smoothly, and all equipment should be arriving by the end of the fiscal year.

Both Dr. Nader and Ms. Cook have made a sustainable impact on HPC, exemplifies the mission of the clinic and have positively impacted the people served by Health Partnership.

June is Oral Health Month – Brushing and Flossing Key to Healthy Teeth

Nader RastgoftarBy Nader Rastgoftar, DDS, Dental Director and General Dentist at Health Partnership Clinic

Did you know that cavities (tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in five (20 percent) children aged five to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth. The percentage of children and adolescents aged five to 19 years with untreated cavities is twice as high for children from low-income households (25 percent) compared with children from higher-income households (12 percent).

June is Oral Health Month, and it is a perfect time to remind parents about the importance of brushing and flossing. These two steps can limit cavities and keep children smiling.

Poor oral health can have a detrimental effect on children’s quality of life, their performance at school, and their success later in life. Cavities are preventable and ensuring that students have the preventive oral health services they need in school is important in helping them stay healthy and ready to learn.

School-Based Portable Dental Care

Dental cleaningAt Health Partnership Clinic, we provide school-based portable dental care to Title One schools in Olathe and Shawnee Mission School Districts and Head Start programs. In these locations, we see children who don’t have a dental home or have not seen a dentist in more than a year. We provide dental screenings and sealants. Dental sealants prevent cavities for many years. Children aged six to 11 without sealants have almost three times more first molar cavities than children without sealants.

If we identify issues such as cavities, we schedule an appointment at our Olathe clinic for follow up. In addition to the check up, we also educate students about how to brush and floss. Our dental team, which includes a dental hygienist and dental assistant, do a fantastic job in engaging children and reminding them about the importance of oral health. Our school partners believe we play a key role in their children’s school success!

With summer just around the corner, parents need to make sure their children are practicing good oral health at home. Be sure to watch your children brush their teeth!

Here are some tips on how to prevent tooth decay:

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Preferably, brush after each meal and especially before going to bed.
  2. Clean between your teeth daily with dental floss or interdental cleaners, such as the Oral-B Interdental Brush.
  3. Rinse daily with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Some rinses also have antiseptic ingredients to help kill bacteria that cause plaque.
  4. Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacks. Avoid carbohydrates such as candy, pretzels and chips, which can remain on the tooth surface. If sticky foods are eaten, brush your teeth soon afterwards.
  5. Check with your dentist about using supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth.
  6. Ask your dentist about dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (molars) to protect them from decay.
  7. Drink fluoridated water. At least a pint of fluoridated water each day is needed to protect children from tooth decay.
  8. Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.

To learn more about our dental services, visit the dental services page on our website.

Cavity Prevention Starts Before the First Tooth

Christina CookBy Christina Cook, RDH, ECP II, Dental Hygienist at Health Partnership Clinic

February marks Children’s Dental Health Month, and it’s an excellent time to think about prevention and starting healthy habits.

At Health Partnership Clinic (HPC), we understand the importance of preventing problems and not just treating problems when they arise and that is why we recommend oral hygiene habits begin prior to the first tooth.

Your child’s gums should be wiped twice a day with a soft, clean cloth in the morning after the first feeding and right before bed to wipe away bacteria and sugars that can cause cavities. This also gets your child accustomed to the act of cleaning the mouth and the feeling of a clean mouth. Once the teeth begin to erupt you can brush twice a day with plain water.

February is Children's Dental Health MonthChildren should make their introductory trip to the dentist when their first tooth appears or on their first birthday, whichever comes first. The first visit to the dentist is consider a “happy visit”. The purpose of this visit is to introduce them to the dental office, review hygiene habits, provide nutritional recommendations and perform a growth and development check. It is important that you follow the recommendations of the dental professionals because the enamel of the tooth (hard outer layer) is much thinner and softer on baby teeth, making them at greater risk of decay. Once a cavity starts, they can grow faster and lead to pain quicker than on an adult tooth. The good news is with regular checkups, a healthy diet and good oral hygiene habits cavities are preventable.

Tips for Preventing Tooth Decay in Children

  • February is Children's Dental Health MonthBrush the teeth twice a day using the correct amount of toothpaste based on the child’s age.
  • Although children want to do things on their own, they are not able to do a good job brushing their teeth until they can tie their shoes and even then, they should be supervised until age 11.
  • Many times, baby teeth have spacing which allows the toothbrush bristles to clean between the teeth. Once the teeth are touching it is recommended to floss once a day at nighttime to prevent cavities between the teeth. Your child will also need assistance with flossing until around age 11.
  • February is Children's Dental Health MonthMy biggest nutritional tip I can give is limit sugary drinks and snacking. A small amount of milk and juice is okay with a meal, but plain water is recommended between meals. When choosing snacks choose whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and cheese opposed to processed foods like chips, cookies and candies.
  • Visit a dentist every six months to detect problems early and to prevent future problems. Also ask your dentist about Fluoride varnish treatments to strengthen the teeth and sealants to protect the chewing surface of the back teeth.

HPC provides dental services to children and teens and accepts Medicaid and other insurance plans. We also offer a sliding fee discount program for those who qualify.

To schedule an appointment, call 913-648-2266.

To learn more about our services, visit https://hpcks.org/our-services/dental/.

June is Oral Health Month – Establishing a lifelong habit will keep you smiling!

Nader RastgoftarBy Nader Rastgoftar, DDS, General Dentist at Health Partnership Clinic

Establishing healthy habits like brushing, cleaning between your teeth and seeing a dentist twice a year can make a big difference to the health of your family. It is particularly important to develop these healthy habits with infants and children. This month is Oral Health Month, and the theme is Share More Time, Share More Smiles. To celebrate, print off the coloring sheet and how to brush tip sheet and share with your children.

Why is it important for children to get a regular dental checkup?

Teeth help us with so many different things. They help us chew our food so it’s easier to digest, make it possible for us to form words so we can communicate, and they help shape our faces. While you may think that dental health is only important for older children and adults, this is not the case. The truth is, even the youngest infants benefit from proper dental care.

Why is early dental health important?

Brushing Your TeethPaying close attention to your baby’s dental health will help them grow strong, healthy teeth and set them up for a lifetime of good oral hygiene habits. Not caring for your child’s mouth can lead to several problems including tooth decay, gum disease, inflammation and pain that can create other health issues. In fact, the earlier you begin a dental hygiene routine for your baby, the healthier their teeth and gums will be throughout their lives.

When should children get their first dental checkup?

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that every child should visit a dentist by age one–or as soon as the first tooth appears. This “well baby visit” teaches parents and caregivers how to care for their children’s teeth and help them remain cavity-free.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 40 percent of children have decay by the time they reach kindergarten.

At Health Partnership Clinic (HPC), our dental staff can help educate parents or caregivers to help prevent cavities. We educate parents about why falling asleep with a bottle of milk or juice is not recommended (why this causes decay); the importance of encouraging children to drink milk, water and juice from a cup as they approach their first birthday; and how to brush young teeth.

Dental Health Month - Back to SchoolOur goal is to prevent cavities and tooth decay, which can lead to pain, trouble concentrating and other medical issues. Also, young children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence. Happy Oral Health Month from HPC’s Dental Team!

To schedule a dental appointment for your child, call 913-648-2266.

Ottawa location welcomes pediatric dental patients

Health Partnership Clinic is proud to announce that Dr. Emily C. Day, a pediatric dentist, is now providing pediatric dental exams, cleanings, sealants and treatments at the Ottawa office, 107 S. Main St. Services are available to children 12 and under on Friday mornings.

To schedule an appointment, please call 913-276-7004. Health Partnership accepts KanCare/Medicaid and commercial insurance. For those uninsured or underinsured, a Sliding Fee program is available to those who qualify based on income and household size.

To learn more about Dr. Day, visit her profile.

Pediatric Dental Services - Ottawa


HPC’s Pediatric Dental Services Safe during COVID-19 the Pandemic

By Nader Rastgoftar, DDS, General Dentist

Learn how we keep patients and staff safe!

Nader RastgoftarLike many dental facilities, Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) in Olathe, Kan. has seen a decrease in the volume of pediatric dental services. We attribute this mostly because parents are concerned about coming to the dentist office in a pandemic. That’s why we’ve implemented many new policies and procedures and invested heavily in our dental equipment and personal protection equipment (PPE). The safety of our patients and staff is a top priority.

Oral health is just as important as medical health—and that doesn’t change in a pandemic situation. In fact, when you delay dental care for children, the teeth don’t get better on their own, and the problems get worse, and many times may need even more treatment.

At Health Partnership, we follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of our youngest patients so oral health doesn’t have to be delayed. Nader Rastgoftar, DDS, HPC’s general dentist, offers some insights about dental care during a pandemic and the commitment of the dental team.

Remember that regular dental checkups are a must. At HPC, we offer affordable and accessible dental care for children 0-18. To make an appointment call 913-648-2266.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!

Emily DayBy Emily C. Day, DDS, Dental Director and Pediatric Dentist, Health Partnership Clinic

The American Dental Association (ADA) dedicates this month-long national health observance to bringing together thousands of dedicated professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others. At Health Partnership Clinic (HPC), we join the ADA in educating families about the importance of regular oral hygiene.

This year’s slogan is “Water, Nature’s Drink!”

You may be wondering why so much attention would be given to water!

Water is something we have access to easily, you can drink it straight from the tap and in most cities, it contains fluoride, which is critical to the prevention of cavities in children.

Children's Dental Health MonthA bigger danger to children’s teeth is if sweetened beverages are consumed instead of water on a regular basis. Juices, flavored milks, sports drinks and soda all contain large amounts of sugar, which when sipped on throughout the day can cause tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities use the sugar from these drinks and convert it to acid that breaks down the tooth enamel, causing cavities that may be painful and that will require dental treatment to repair.

A simple way to prevent cavities in young children is to only offer water in between meals. Mealtime can be reserved for milk or small amounts of juice, both of which can be part of a healthy diet in the appropriate amounts. If you have questions about the appropriate amounts of milk or juice, speak with your child’s doctor.

Other tips for caring for children’s teeth include the following:

  1. Children's Dental Health MonthTooth brushing with adult supervision. Young children lack the manual dexterity to position the toothbrush correctly on each of the tooth surfaces. By the third grade, most children can begin to brush their teeth independently, but still need an adult to monitor that all teeth were brushed.
  2. Avoid sticky, chewy snacks that may get lodged in between the teeth. Foods like raisins, dried fruit, sticky and gummy candies, and crackers tend to become lodged in between the teeth and can cause cavities if not adequately removed with tooth brushing or flossing. Healthy snack options include fruits, veggies, yogurt and cheese.
  3. It is recommended that children first see a dentist by their first birthday. This will ensure the child’s caregiver is equipped with the appropriate education to take care of the young child’s teeth, and this sets the stage to best prevent cavities.

How does HPC care for children’s teeth?

HPC: Children's Dental Health MonthAt HPC, our experienced team of licensed dentists and hygienists are passionate about improving the overall health of our patients through quality dentistry. We provide:

  1. Professional exams, cleanings and X-rays to check for cavities in between the teeth and fluoride varnish applications to strengthen and protect teeth against cavity-causing acid attacks.
  2. Diet and nutritional counseling to make sure your child is on the right track to stay cavity-free.
  3. Customized oral hygiene instructions based on the age of child and any other special circumstances (for example, special tooth brushing tricks if your child has braces).

Many people are surprised to find out that cavities can be prevented! Just ask any member of our Dental department for tips and tricks to stay cavity-free!

To schedule a pediatric dental appointment, please call 913-648-2266. Pediatric dental services are offered at our Olathe and Ottawa sites.

Thumb Sucking: An Innocent Childhood Habit That Could Have Long Term Effects

By Christina Cook, RDH, ECP II, Dental Department, Health Partnership Clinic

HPC: Dental ThumbsuckingWhile thumb sucking is undeniably adorable the first couple of years, as kindergarten approaches and those front teeth start bucking out, parents can easily start to panic!

Thumb sucking typically emerges in infancy, but the habit may start even earlier. Many babies have had the habit for multiple months before birth and it has been described as the earliest addiction. The habit of thumb sucking in children up to age four is a normal and an innocent reflex. Please beware though! Thumb sucking after the age of four could be a sign of insecurity and discomfort in children and many times becomes more than a habit but a dependency. Like any habit the longer the behavior persists the more difficult it becomes to break. Beyond the psychological dependency there are other possible long-term effects.

Possible Thumb Sucking Complications

  • Changes to the position of the teeth. The constant pressure causes the teeth to shift around the shape of the thumb. This is called an open bite and makes it difficult to properly bite into and eat the foods we love.
  • Constant pressure of the thumb against the roof of the mouth can contribute to a high narrow arched roof of the mouth.
  • Thumb sucking anchors the tongue down and forward instead of allowing the tongue to rest in the proper position.
  • Contributes to abnormal tongue patterns.
  • Alters normal breathing patterns and normal facial growth patterns.
  • Contributes to an open mouth resting position of the lips.

Dental Thumbsucking Collage 1

Most dental pros recommend not intervening to stop a thumb sucking habit until age four or five.  The good news is most kids will quit on their own by that time but if the habit persists here are some tips.

Tips for Quitting

  • Praise and reward your child! Star charts, daily rewards and gentle reminders.
  • If your child uses sucking to relieve boredom, keep the hands busy or distract them with things they find fun.
  • No matter what method you try, be sure to explain it to your child. If it makes your child afraid or tense, you should stop it at once because this could have an opposite effect on your child’s progress.
  • Consider trying Mavala Sto, a nail polish with a bitter taste that helps keep the thumb out of the mouth.
  • Books about thumb sucking are a great way to “plant the seed” about quitting, without pressuring the child.

Dental Thumbsucking Collage 2

Sometimes these solutions work, and sometimes the child still needs a little extra time or help. If you see changes in the roof of your child’s mouth or in the way the teeth are lining up, talk with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist for additional help with breaking the habit.

February is Children’s Dental Health Month

Emily DayPost written by Emily Day, DDS, Director of Dental, Health Partnership Clinic

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of community water fluoridation. In honor of this the slogan for the 2020 National Children’s Dental Health Month is “Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!”

More than 70 years of scientific research has consistently shown that an optimal level of fluoride in community water is safe and effective and prevents tooth decay by at least 25 percent in both children and adults. The American Dental Association (ADA) supports water fluoridation as the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay even in the of era of widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Children Embracing

Below are commonly asked questions answered by the ADA.

Why would communities want to fluoridate the water?

  • Communities fluoridate their water supply because it is a cost-effective public health method that helps prevent cavities. The average cost per year for U.S. communities to fluoridate the water ranges from 50 cents per person for large communities to $3 dollars per person for small communities.
  • Cavities are caused by a disease called “caries,” which is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in five-to 17-year-olds. The pain from untreated cavities can cause people to lose sleep, have trouble eating, speaking and paying attention at school or work.
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General in 2000 estimated that 51 million school hours are lost per year because of dental-related illness. Without water fluoridation, that number would likely be much higher.
  • So, by simply drinking fluoridated water, you are doing something good for your oral health.

Is Fluoride, as provided by community water fluoridation, a toxic substance?

  • Fluoride in water at the recommended level is not toxic according to the best available scientific evidence.Toxicity is related to dose. While large doses of fluoride could be toxic, it is important to recognize the difference between the effect of a massive dose of an extremely high level of fluoride versus the fluoride level currently recommended for public water systems. Like many common substances essential to life and good health – salt, iron, vitamins A and D, chlorine, oxygen and even water itself – fluoride can be toxic in massive quantities. Fluoride at the much lower recommended concentrations (0.7 mg/L) used in community water fluoridation is not harmful or toxic.

Does water from the refrigerator dispenser still have the beneficial fluoride in it?

  • Refrigerator filters and other filters (like BRITA) don’t filter out fluoride. Only reverse osmosis filtration removes fluoride from city tap water.

February is Children’s Dental Health Month