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

Employee Spotlight: Emily C. Day, DDS

Employee Spotlight

We are very excited to highlight one of our most valuable assets, our employees! Each month, get to know the HPC team in a fun new way.

Emily DayName: Emily C. Day, DDS

Department: Dental

Title: Director of Dental Department

Primary work location: Olathe Outreach

How long have you worked at HPC? Seven weeks

How did you get into your field of work?

As a high schooler, I met a female dentist who said that a career in dentistry was great if you liked science, crafts and helping people. From then on I was a dental assistant during the summer until I was in dental school.

Do you speak any other languages? If yes, which ones?

No, I do not speak any other languages, but I wish I did!

Do you have a favorite quote? If yes, what is it?

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

What values are important to you?

Loyalty, authenticity and honesty.

Emily Day's FamilyWhat is something about you that would surprise people?

I love hedgehogs! I have a hedgehog named Arthur.

What is on your “bucket” list?

I want to see the Northern Lights.

What is your favorite food?

Mexican food is my favorite!

What is your favorite movie?

“Pretty Woman”

What is your favorite hobby?

Reading is my favorite hobby.

Are you an animal lover?  If yes, how many pets do you have and what kind are they?

Yes! In addition to my hedgehog, we have three dogs: two Dachshunds and one Border Collie mix.

Know the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

Debra TrybomPost written by Debra Trybom, RDH, ECP II
Health Partnership Clinic

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Approximately 110,000 people are diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancer every year in the United States. These cancers can occur in the tongue, throat, larynx, nasal cavities, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid and salivary glands. Sixty-six percent of the time, these cancers will be found as late as a stage three or four disease, making them harder to treat.

Early detection is key which is why the staff at HPC is taking the time to raise awareness about oral cancers. The dentists and hygienists will review your health history and perform screenings during your dental exam and cleanings to identify any abnormalities of the mouth, head and neck.  This is another reason why routine dental care is so important!

Do you know the warning signs of Oral or Head and Neck cancer?

Some of the symptoms you may notice are:

  • A red or white patch that develops in your mouth that is sore and does not heal or go away.
  • A persistent sore throat.
  • Persistent hoarseness of your voice.
  • Persistent ear pain.
  • A lump in your mouth or neck that does not go away; may feel rough or thick.
  • Frequent nosebleeds or bleeding in your mouth.
  • Numbness in the cheek or facial swelling/pain that doesn’t go away.
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking or chewing.

Oral Cancer AwarenessWhat are the risk factors?

  • Smoking and other tobacco products.
  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Environmental exposure such as working with dust, glues, formaldehyde, mustard gas, some metals and radium.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) has been attributed to over 10,000 new cases per year in the United States. Young, non-smokers are the fastest growing population of oral cancer patients due to the HPV virus.

Even if you do not meet all the risk factors, it is important to be screened. If treatment occurs in the early stages, patients have very little disfigurement or functional deficit. Treatment typically includes surgery and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is sometimes recommended for patients with advanced disease. The next time you visit your doctor or dentist please speak with them about performing an oral cancer screening!

HPC recognizes National Children’s Dental Health Month

Post written by Debra Trybom, RDH, ECP II, Health Partnership Clinic

Debra TrybomFebruary was National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month of recognition is meant to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.

HPC celebrated with a few fun activities for our pediatric patients.

  • Every child seen in pediatrics and dental was given a smile kit containing a new toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, a pencil and crayons.
  • We also sponsored a spin tooth brush giveaway. To be eligible to win, the child had to be a patient of record and either color a coloring sheet, draw or color an original picture or complete a tooth brushing calendar that showed that they brushed twice a day for 30 days. The drawing will take place at the end of March to give kids who came in near the end of the month an opportunity to record 30 days of brushing.
  • And finally, there were two giant teeth in the Olathe dental clinic. Kids were invited to draw a picture or write down items or actions that are good for teeth on a post-it note and stick it on the tooth of their choosing.

In honor of Children’s Dental Health Month, here are some facts about tooth decay:

  1. Even though it is almost entirely preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting children in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in five children aged five-11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  2. Tooth decay is preventable. Children who brush for two minutes, twice per day with fluoride toothpaste will have less decay. Fluoride varnish treatments can prevent about one-third of decay in baby teeth. Dental sealants can prevent tooth decay as well. Studies have shown that sealants reduce decay in the permanent molars by 81 percent for two years after they are placed on the tooth and continue to be effective for four years after placement.
  3. Tooth decay has an impact on learning. Children and youth with oral health issues are more likely to miss school. In fact, studies have shown that school-age children in the U.S. miss 51 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems. These children are losing critical learning time, especially during the early years when fundamental skills are being developed.
  4. Bacteria can be passed to your infant by family members through saliva. You can reduce the chance of passing cavity-causing bacteria to your infant by not sharing toothbrushes, licking pacifiers to clean them, or feeding your baby with a spoon that has been in your mouth. Good oral care for infants include: lifting the lip so you can see along the gum line when cleaning and check for white or brown spots which can be a sign of early decay, gently wipe the baby’s mouth using a wet cloth or soft toothbrush, when teeth come in brush them twice a day with a smear (grain of rice size) of fluoride toothpaste.

HPC Dentist at School

Dental health is a vital part of your child’s overall health and well being. Our experienced team of licensed dentists and hygienists are passionate about providing quality dental care. HPC provides portable dental care at more than 40 area schools, Head Start programs and other locations serving children in need.

To make an appointment for your child to be seen by an HPC dentist, please call 913-648-2266.

Common Children’s Oral Hygiene Myths Busted


Joy Wright, RDH, ECP III

Post written by Joy Wright, RDH, ECP III, Health Partnership Clinic

Myth #1: “My baby doesn’t have teeth, so there is nothing I can do to nurture a healthy mouth.”

This myth is busted by the power of bacteria. Bacteria can still accumulate in a newborn’s mouth.

It’s recommended that you wipe their mouth out with a washcloth and water after they eat. This not only disrupts the bacteria but also gets the baby used to having their mouth cleaned.

This is also a very important time for caregivers to take care of their own teeth and gums because bacteria can be passed from their mouth to the baby.

Good brushing and flossing along with dental check-ups every 6 months will lower the risk of passing dental disease or infection to your baby.

Myth #2: “The baby teeth don’t matter because they are just going to fall out anyway.”

This myth is busted by the fact that you cannot disconnect the mouth from the rest of the body.

No matter your age, the health of your mouth affects the health of your body. Generally, the baby molars and canines do not fall out until age 10, 11 or even 12 years old.

Also, the baby teeth hold space for the permanent teeth that are forming. Permanent teeth are forming directly underneath the baby teeth and can be adversely affected by infected baby teeth.

If a baby tooth must be extracted prematurely then a space maintainer must be placed to hold the space for the permanent tooth.

If this precaution is not taken, the teeth drift, and the mouth does not grow properly causing severe crowding in permanent teeth.

HPC_Dentist_at_School156Myth #3: “My kids don’t eat candy, so they won’t get cavities.”

This myth is busted by the digestive system.

Our saliva begins the digestion process with the breakdown of carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Bacteria feeds on sugar and produces acid that causes tooth decay.

Therefore, frequent snacking becomes a risk factor for dental disease whether sweet or salty.

This myth is double busted by sugary drinks. Not only do foods we eat affect our teeth, drinks affect our teeth too.

The acidic nature of soda pop alone can cause tooth damage. There is a surprisingly large amount of sugar in soda pop, juice, and Gatorade.

Next time you reach for a thirst quencher, read the label to see what is in your drink. Reducing sugar intake along with less frequent sugar exposure is the key to prevent cavities.

Health Partnership Clinic offers onsite pediatric dental services at many schools in Johnson County. The service is geared toward those who do not have a dentist, or it’s difficult for parents to keep appointments due to transportation, work schedules, or a lack of funds.

Onsite Services include:

Dental Exam
Fluoride Treatments
Oral Health Education
Nutritional Counseling
Baby Tooth Root Canals
Stainless Steel Crowns on Baby Teeth
Removal of Infected Baby Teeth
Space Maintainers

To see if we come to your child’s school, call our School-Based Portable Dental Team at 913-276-7004, email hpcdentaloutreach@hpcks.com, or visit our website at https://hpcks.org/school-based-dental-services/.

The Most Common Chronic Childhood Disease is Preventable! 

Debra Trybom

Debra Trybom

Joy Wright

Joy Wright

Post written by Joy Wright, RDH, ECP I and Debra Trybom, RDH, ECP I
Health Partnership Clinic

What do you think the most common chronic childhood disease is? 

Here’s a hint: it’s a disease that occurs as early as six months of age. It goes beyond pain and infection.

It can affect speech and communication, eating, nutrition, sleeping, learning, playing and quality of life, even into adulthood.

The answer is tooth decay.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. Tooth decay is an infectious, transmissible disease caused by bacteria colonizing on the teeth and producing acid that dissolves enamel.

Without intervention, bacteria will continue to destroy tooth structure, eventually infecting the soft pulp tissue and causing pain.

How common is it?

It’s five times more common than asthma, four times more common than childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes.

Dental cleaningIs this most common chronic childhood disease preventable?

Yes! It is preventable!

What can we, as parents, do to prevent tooth decay in our children? 

  • As infants, use a washcloth to wipe gums after each feeding. Infants should not be put to bed with a bottle of anything other than water. If an infant falls asleep while feeding, his/her mouth should be cleaned before placing the child in bed.
  • Take children to see a dentist by age one or when the first tooth appears. At the first visit, the dentist will check the child’s teeth and apply a fluoride varnish application. Fluoride varnish is recommended by the American Dental Association every three months. All fluorides act to slow demineralization and boost remineralization.
  • At home, brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth appears. Make sure the toothpaste is no more than a grain of rice until the child learns to spit out the excess. Once children can spit, then a pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used. Be sure to supervise the brushing. Children under the age of six years do not have the dexterity it takes to brush thoroughly.
  • Diet also plays a strong role in preventing dental decay. Frequent snacking is a risk factor for dental decay because it creates an acidic oral environment, not giving the saliva time to stabilize the pH in the mouth between meals. Acid breaks down the outer surface of the teeth causing cavities.
  • Encourage children to use a sippy cup by one-year-old. Sippy cups should only have water unless with a meal. Filling the sippy cup with anything other than water and allowing a child to drink from it throughout the day, bathes the child’s teeth in cavity-causing bacteria.

Let’s work together to prevent tooth decay in our communities by raising awareness of oral hygiene, nutrition, fluoride and the importance of regular dental visits!

Pediatric dental appointments are available by calling 913-648-2266.

Pediatric Medical and Dental Integrate for 90 Day Pilot Project

pilot project (2)To improve customer service, increase efficiencies and decrease billing issues, Health Partnership Clinic’s Pediatric Medical and Dental staff in Olathe are integrating for a 90-day pilot project.

According to Dayna Brinckman, DDS, Chief Dental Officer, the main objective is to bring together a talented and skilled group of individuals who are all moving toward the same goal.

“A huge part of this pilot is to focus on customer service and process improvement,” she says.

Pediatric patients are now able to schedule both a dental and medical appointment at the same time if warranted. The integrated services are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, during regular clinic hours.

In addition, a dedicated pediatric medical/dental waiting room opened on March 5. Plans for signage are underway.

Patients seeking pediatric medical and dental care (including the Pediatric Walk-In Clinic) should enter through the East entrance doors; adult patients should enter through the West doors as they’ve done in the past.

The pilot project includes a realignment of staff duties so you may notice some new faces. The provider team includes Dayna Brinckman, DDS; Emily Bush, MD; Kare Lyche, MD; Nader Rastgoftar, DDS; Anne VanGarsse, MD; and Liz Vasquez, MPAS, PA-C.

“With this new model, our hope is to improve our patients’ experiences with great customer service and streamlined access to our services as well as to promote our pediatrics and dental services,” Dr. Brinckman adds. The clinic plans to survey pediatric patients and their parents regarding the new changes.

HPC Receives Capital Improvement Grant

Dayna Brinckman

Dayna Brinckman, DDS, Chief Dental Officer

HPC recently received a Capital Improvement Grant to provide Tele-dentistry.

This is an exciting opportunity to increase the efficiency of dental outreach services and improve access to dental services to low income, uninsured and under-insured children.

With this exciting technology, Dayna Brinckman, DDS, Chief Dental Officer, will be able to conduct dental exams remotely, assisted by onsite dental hygienists, to determine a dental treatment plan.

Tele-dentistry improves the efficiency of dental outreach services by minimizing travel time and spreading the dentist’s capacity to multiple locations.

Implementing this project will ensure more children are able to receive the necessary services for improved health and wellness.

Congratulations to Dr. Brinckman and the dental team!