Thursday, September 3, 2015

Toothbrushing App Review: Oral B Disney Magic Timer App

Magic Kingdom of Brushing App: Oral B Disney Magic Timer App

Today's app review looks at Oral B Disney Magic Timer App, which is geared at younger children from approximately 3 years to 9 years of age. This app was developed by toothbrush company, Oral B in conjunction with Disney. The app itself is free of charge, but will cost you the price of an Oral B Disney oral health product.

The app starts by scanning your Oral B device or Crest Pro Health Toothpaste. Each time the child brushes, a new image is revealed through the appropriate brushing time of 2 minutes. The child gets to collect virtual stickers at the end of each brushing session, which is intended as a motivation for the child. The app, while highly commercial, may appeal to the princesses and super heroes in the crowd, who may require such fun toothbrushes to comply with tooth brushing tasks anyway.

This app does not offer too many other amenities found in other apps such as a flossing timer or dental checkup reminder. It also lacks a reminder of where to brush, and relies only on the time-based activity. Just like other tooth brushing apps, parental assistance is not an encouraged activity. The app may lose appeal on the older crowd quickly, but there are plenty of other apps to try anyway.

Overall, I think this app will have a huge appeal for the Disney-loving kid, but its appeal may wear off quickly. For children that may use alternative oral health products due to medical reasons, this app may not be practical since a parent would need to buy a specific product to scan for the app to function. While highly commercial, I believe it may be just the right motivational tool for the right audience.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tooth Brushing App Review: Chomper Chums

Complete Oral Health Routine App: Chomper Chums.

Today's app review looks at Chomper Chums, which is geared at children age 4-11 years of age. Chomper Chums is an app produced by a dental insurance company, United Concordia.  It is  great to see an insurance company show dedication towards improving the oral health of their members and the general public, particularly because this app is free of charge.

Chomper Chums starts by giving children the proper guidance of brushing for two minutes twice per day as well as using floss and a rinse with fun, animal characters. The animation guides the child through brushing all of their teeth in their mouth by chasing the "sugar bugs", which earns them points to purchase food items for their animal. As added interest, the healthier the snack the child picks, the healthier their animal character will remain in the app.

This app is a fairly entertaining app, but its appeal may be lost by the older kids in the family. Of course, children under 8 years of age should still have assistance from parents for all tooth brushing and flossing activities to ensure that oral care is effective enough to prevent tooth decay and tartar buildup. Most tooth brushing apps, however, do not encourage the parental assistance and so could be a criticism of most apps on the market.

Overall, this is a great app option for your family to try for free an engage kids with their oral care.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tooth Brushing App Review: Brush DJ

Do you ever wonder how you can get your kids engaged with brushing their teeth? There is an app for that! Actually, there are multiple apps on the App Store and Google Play that are worth review. This blog post will review BrushDJ. Check back for future reviews to learn moreabout other apps.

The tooth brushing app for music lovers: Brush DJ.

We all know that the two minutes you brush your teeth are the longest minutes of your day! Brush DJ is an app that creates mixes from the music collection on your phone or electronic device and creates an awesome 2 minute tooth brushing jam session. Transform those two boring minutes into a reason to celebrate your oral health. There is no reason to forget flossing or when to change your toothbrush: Brush DJ has that covered. Do you have kids of different ages? Brush DJ can assist your family with up-to-date information about the best techniques to optimize tooth brushing for your child's age.

While this app is appropriate for all ages, I think teens may find this app the most appealing. In future posts, I will review apps that have a "gaming" element that may appeal to a younger audience. The best part is that this app is free of charge so you can try it out easily. To learn more, watch the YouTube video below or go to

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Expecting? Mom's Oral Health Matters

The message the American Academy of Pediatrics is clear: children should establish a dental home as soon as the first erupts or no later than the first birthday. This simple but early intervention is intended to prevent early childhood caries (formerly known as baby bottle rot). How are parents not receiving this message of earlier checkups? It's easy: Pediatric dentists aren't getting the message out soon enough. To break the cycle of tooth decay in families, we need to educate mothers before the birth of their child.
Research has long shown there is a strong link between the dental disease status of a mother and her children. Advising mothers to seek dental care before the birth of their child and encouraging infant oral health visits in a dental home setting will help break the cycle of tooth decay in families. As a mother prepares for the birth of her child, however, she usually receives lots of advice from medical professionals, blogs, prenatal classes, or books. The topics discussed include: birthing options, childhood immunizations, car seats, developmental milestones, basic bathing techniques, and the list goes on and on. One topic I often do not hear about or read about, however, is what to do about oral care for mom or the baby. That message is missed completely, and often results in a late start to oral health care.
The answer to this whole discussion is simple: Expectant mothers should receive an oral health screening or be current on her dental checkups prior to expecting (or soon after she finds out she is expecting). This also means that obstetricians should remind expectant mothers to have a dental checkup before baby is born just in case it gets forgotten as well.
Treatment of tooth decay in the mother prior to the baby's birth reduces the bacterial counts of disease-causing microorganisms in mom's mouth. This is so important because tooth decay is a transmissible disease which is passed through saliva from caregiver to child. Since babies are not born with bacteria in their mouth, it means that the bacterial colonies are established through activities such as kissing.  I'm not suggesting mothers don't kiss their babies- not at all. But if a mother has active tooth decay, it means there will be higher amounts of decay-causing bacteria in her mouth that can be passed onto her baby. If there is less "bad bacteria" in mom's mouth, there is a higher chance her baby will develop a more "healthy" colony of bacteria that can actually help prevent tooth decay in the future.
After the baby is born, mom should also start oral care for her child early. Start by wiping the baby's gum pads daily during bath time. This gets the baby accustomed to oral cleansing. Once the teeth erupt into the mouth, it is essential to wipe baby's teeth after every meal, carefully removing the plaque layer that forms on the teeth. Mom should also schedule a baby well visit at the pediatric dentist. At this time, the baby will be introduced to the dental environment and mom can receive essential oral health coaching required to reduce the chance of tooth decay for her child. The pediatric dentist is trained to discuss a variety of topics such as teething, oral safety concerns, oral hygiene routines, nutritional guidance, and assess developmental status of the baby's oral environment.
Baby Dr. Hollen
One of the most important parts of the infant well visit includes a caries risk assessment, which measures the child's risk for tooth decay based on a variety of factors. Part of the goal of this assessment is to help parents identify risk factors that they can modify at home to help reduce the risk of tooth decay. After the first caries risk assessment, regular follow-up care is needed to reassess the risk of tooth decay over time. This is because your child does not have the same habits over time. For instance, some toddlers become picky eaters and perhaps less nutritious meals are provided to help the child maintain a proper weight. If the child only eats sweeter foods, this may change their risk for decay and other strategies may be needed to outweigh the dietary factors that may lead to tooth decay. Understanding the factors that promote tooth decay can also help the dentist establish a plan for cavity prevention that can be developed in cooperation with the parents and child.
Dental decay is still the most prevalent chronic childhood infection, which is important to consider as an expectant mother.  The steps to reach optimal oral health for mothers and their unborn children is simple:
1) Expectant mothers should establish a dental home prior to pregnancy (or soon thereafter)
2) Expectant mothers should optimize their oral health prior to the birth of their child
3) Expectant mothers should learn how to properly care for the oral health of their baby
4) After baby is born, wipe the gum pads daily
5) When the first tooth is visible, the baby should have their first dental checkup with a pediatric dentist to establish a dental home

If you are expecting and have not received pre-natal oral health education, please do not hesitate to contact Southwest Kids Dentistry. Dr. Hollen offers a pre-natal consultation free-of-charge. This visit is intended to help expecting parents prepare for the health of their unborn and explain why establishing healthy family habits is the key to developing healthy babies. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Lifetime of Health through Family Time

Routines that start early in life often persist into adulthood. Exercise and eating right are just as important as daily toothbrushing.  The pressure to meet academic benchmarks in school is growing, and unfortunately, this means that there is less time for physical education and free play for children during school hours. The rush to after school activities can leave little time for making healthy meals.

Parents also miss out on the benefits of healthy living habits to the hectic schedules as well. In a society in which we are so busy with juggling schedules, it takes even more planning to fit it all in. Making time for family, however, can leave the opportunity to fit more of these healthy habits. 

Making healthy family habits together makes sense because it means everyone will be able to benefit from not only healthy routines but also for valuable time as a family. Health habits include making nutritious meals together, brushing and flossing together, or going to the park and playing together. The kids might not even miss that second after school activity if it means spending more time together.

I personally credit my healthy habits to my parents. Regardless of our routines, we sat down every night to a home-cooked meal and talked about the day's events. My mother would cook the vegetables and my dad would grill the protein on the back porch after he arrived home from work. I observed their team work and was always proud to help out by setting the napkins and silverware on the table. We talked about our daily activities at the table and shared moments together I will never forget. On the weekends, we would go to the beach or stay active together. These things all led to developing a routine for adulthood that I hope to share someday with a family of my own. 
Research also shows that family leisure time creates better emotional health and bonding such as through gardening together, cooking together, or going on a walk together. From a mental health perspective, children that spend time communicating with their parents regularly also perform better in school, are at less risk for stress, and less likely to participate in substance abuse. All of these benefits add up to long term health gains, promoting lifelong health through simple family time. Those people with better mental health have also been shown to have better oral health, and so the benefits of a balanced family life prove to be more interconnected than we ever thought possible.

So go out, play and laugh with your family. Make health and family time a lifestyle. Your kids will thank you for it.
Family Surf Time

Monday, May 18, 2015

Healthy Eating Habits

As parents and caregivers of our children, we have the opportunity to be a role model and establish healthy habits early. While this sounds easy, we all know that busy schedules can easily disrupt even the best of intentions.

Planning and using technology can help us plan for success. Here are some tips and resources for making our dream of raising kids with good healthy habits a reality:

1) Plan ahead: Make a food calendar. Not only will this cut down on food waste, but it allows you to prepare food and snacks in advance since you know what will be in your refridgerator.

2) Drink more water! It's easy, fast, and (essentially) free from the tap. Water is one of the best beverages for our bodies and our teeth. Not only does it hydrate, but it has no sugars that will harm our teeth if we sip on it all day. In addition, hydrating before meal time will cut down on overeating.

3) Establish a meal time that is free from screen time. Eating in front of a screen promotes overeating. Instead, gather around the dinner table and learn about eachother's day. This family time is something you can never replace, and is also good for our emotional health as well. Eating meals on a regular schedule is also a great way to cut down on overeating.

4) Grow your own food or utilize a local food box program. Gardening can be fun, can teach your kids valuable skills, and can be tasty! If your kids grow or help prepare healthy foods, they are more likely to eat them. If you don't have the ability to have your own garden, try a local food box program or farmer's market to gain access to fresh produce.

5) Use technology: There are so many apps these days, particularly applications that can help you track your meals and nutrition. Find an app that works for your needs and try it out. There are other websites too such as or that are designed specifically for healthy eating and living.

6) Start small. Don't try to change everything all at once. Try something new each week and make your change a lifestyle rather than a diet. Reward your successes with a healthy treat, such as spending time at the park.

7) When in doubt, ask your doctor! Your doctor can a great resource and may be able to refer you to a nutritionist if you have difficulty with obtaining your goals or if you have a child with special nutritional requirements.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Outreach: Give Kids A Smile

The first time I participated in a Give Kids A Smile event I was in dental school at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health nine years ago. Every year, the dental school invites back alumni to participate, which I have done every year since living in Tucson. 

The Give Kids A Smile event, sponsored in part by the American Dental Association, focuses on providing kids with comprehensive dental care completely free of charge. At the Mesa, Arizona event, the dental students ensure the environment is fun-filled and complete with visits by the tooth fairy and the opportunity to earn prizes at a kids carnival once their dental work is completed. Local dentists and pediatric dentists, such as myself, have the opportunity to provide dental care for children who may otherwise not receive any dental care at all. This year we were the National Kickoff Site and I am proud to report that we did a great job in seeing hundreds of children in just one day!

Not only is this day fun, but it warms my heart to see kids leave with a healthier, happier smile. Giving back to the community in a meaningful way is part of why I love what I do: How many other people have the opportunity to give the gift of a smile?