SHS’ Dental Team Goes Back to School

Dental_van2

The Swope Health Services dental van and staff getting ready to set up, and here, performing dental exams on students.

Reading, writing, arithmetic…and brushing and flossing!

Our dental team is bringing some important lessons to the classroom these days, as we have made a commitment to provide services to children enrolled in the Head Start program across the metro.

Head Start is a program designed to give every child, regardless of circumstances of birth, an opportunity to succeed in school.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the program provides health, nutrition and education resources to pre-Kindergarten-aged children.

The program, housed in schools and community centers, encourages parent involvement and provides linkages to social services for low-income families.

Nationwide, the program has helped more than 32 million children and their families since its founding 50 years ago.

Swope Health Services Dental Department is an important part of the healthcare offerings at Kansas City Head Start programs, operated through the Mid-America Regional Council.

“About 30 percent of all emergency room visits are dental-related and about half of those involve children,” said Dr. David Moyer, SHS Director of Dentistry. “The Emergency Room is not the right place for these kids. We can help.”

Emergency visits are expensive and ERs are not equipped for dental emergencies. Dr. Moyer notes the real goal for parents and kids is to get ongoing dental care from the start, so we can prevent issues that lead to emergencies.

mobile_dental2In the Head Start program, Dr. Moyer and his team of dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists and patient care representatives travel twice a year to the Kansas City-area Head Start locations to provide dental care.

The team can perform basic examinations and assess risks of cavities and impediments to oral health.

The team’s mobile set-up allows them to take X-rays, perform cleanings, provide fluoride treatments, fill cavities and even perform extractions.

“A big part of the work is counseling the kids and parents on oral health and good habits,” he said. “The SHS team follows up with families of kids who need more dental services or medical healthcare. We want to help them get healthy, whether that takes an extra dental appointment or other care.”

SHS is now visiting 15 locations throughout the metropolitan Kansas City area, from Grandview to Liberty, Excelsior Springs and Parkville and throughout the urban core.

Top Three Dental Tips for Kids

  1. Don’t brush off dental care. Use your toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. More is even better!
  2. Watch what you eat and drink – those sugary treats can really take a toll on your teeth. Eat healthy.
  3. Make a habit of visiting your dentist every six months for a cleaning, fluoride treatment and sealants. Take care of any cavities or problems at those visits, too.

Have Your Kids Been to the Dentist Lately?

david-moyer-d-d-s

Dr. David Moyer, D.D.S

February is Children’s Dental Health Month. It’s a national health observance to encourage good oral health practices for children, resulting in beautiful smiles that last a lifetime.

Dr. David Moyer, SHS Director of Dentistry, is among the thousands of dentists across the country encouraging awareness of children’s dental health all year long.

“I want to invite parents to bring in their kids,” he said. “The earlier, the better.”

Even infants under one year should come in for dental visits, and return every year until age 4-6 when they should start dental visits twice a year.

“I want them to get used to coming to the dentist,” Dr. Moyer said.

When children and parents come for a dental exam, Dr. Moyer likes to offer suggestions to help build good habits for lifelong dental health. Some of his regular tips:

  • Don’t put your baby to bed with a sugary drink in the bottle. The sugars will coat the teeth and start to accelerate decay. It’s better to give clear water at night.
  • Poster MARCWhen your baby’s teeth come in, start brushing. You can start just with a tiny dab of toothpaste on your finger or on a soft brush. Get your child in the habit by brushing their teeth for them every night. By the time your child is about 4 years old, the child should be able to brush on their own.
  • A fluoride rinse can be a good idea for children. Have your child swish it around for 30 seconds after brushing to prevent bacterial formations and help prevent cavities.
  • Stay away from sodas! They’re not good for your health or your teeth. The carbonation, acids and sugars –even if it’s a diet formula – all can eat away at the enamel tooth covering. Juices aren’t much better. Plain ol’ water is usually the best.

Dr. Moyer encourages regular dental visits for all kids, and he also works with the Mid-America Head Start program to make it easier to reach kids who might not be able to make it to a dental office.

The SHS mobile dental service offers exams, X-rays, cleanings and application of fluorides and sealants to children at schools, YMCA and other Head Start locations.

The SHS Head Start program is developing regular schedules for those visits, either for a half-day or full day of appointments, every day of the week at different outreach locations.

Have your kids been to the dentist lately? It’s a good time to get them in for a visit and help them learn some healthy tips for bright smiles to last a lifetime. Call us at 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.

Get to Know Our Director of Dentistry: Dr. David Moyer

david-moyer-d-d-sDr. David Moyer is the Director of Dentistry for Swope Health Services. A native of St. Joseph, Mo., he received his doctorate of dental surgery degree from the Georgetown University School of Dentistry in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Moyer was a general dentist with the Missouri Department of Corrections and before that, a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, serving with the 442nd Medical-Dental Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base. He joined Swope Health Services in October 2016.

We caught up with him recently to ask a few questions. Here are his responses:

When did you know that you wanted to be a dentist?
It was in college. Growing up, I thought I wanted to be a physician. When I was 6 years old, my father died of a heart attack, so I was interested in medicine.

But while I was in college working at the teaching hospital at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, I saw a woman who was in a car accident and died – it brought my father’s experience back to me and I realized I didn’t want to do this.

But, a friend’s father was a dentist, and that was interesting to me. There was a lot of close work with your hands, and I liked that since I had played piano all my life. It was interesting.

What led you to join Swope Health Services?
I’m getting a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Maryland. I had taken a course in public health and was learning about Federally Qualified Health Centers and I decided to explore opportunities. SHS had an opening, and I got it.

What are the key things you hope to accomplish in your new role?
I want my group to work together as a team. I want to bring in new patients and help them get their treatment plans completed. I’d like to expand our dental services to additional locations. I’m interested in developing a dental outreach program for the homeless.

What is your favorite characteristic in yourself?
I have a degree in mathematics, so I guess I’m fairly analytical. My leadership qualities tend to come out easily.

Least favorite?
My procrastination.

What book is on your nightstand?
The only book I read at night is the Bible.

What’s the one thing you wish you could change about your patients?
I wish I could change the no-show rate. It’s so inefficient and it hurts our patients. It prevents them from completing their treatment and it hinders us from helping other patients.

What else would you like our readers to know about you?
I have an 11-year-old son. I love animals and sports and music. I still play the piano. I’ve played in bands in college – rock and roll and blues bands. I taught piano and guitar during college and I still get invited to sit in with bands for recordings.

Do you have a question for Dr. Moyer? You can leave your question or comment in the box below. SHS has limited openings for new dental patients but we’re working hard to see all those who need us. If you are open to being seen at our Independence, Northland or Wyandotte County clinics, we may be able to see you sooner, rather than later. Please call 816-923-5800 to explore your options.

Our Dental Services Are Expanding!

Swope Health Services is expanding dental services at the Central, Wyandotte, Northland and Independence facilities.

David Ewing

David Ewing

Arezo Hesaraki

Arezo Hesaraki

Andrew Medlin

Andrew Medlin

The expansion brings new dental staff members as well as additional dental clinic space:

-At the Wyandotte Clinic, we have added three new dental offices plus an additional dental darkroom, supply room and provider office. This brings the total number of dental chairs to eight and allows the clinic to offer dental services daily.

-We’ve also added another dentist to the Wyandotte team, Dr. Arezo Hesaraki. She will join Dr. David Ewing in providing daily services at Wyandotte. She’ll also work in rotation at the Northland Clinic with Dr. Andrew Medlin.

-We’ve added a new dental room in Northland Clinic, which now has three dental chairs.

Ashlee Miller

Ashlee Miller

Ryan Cox

Ryan Cox

-We have added a new dental hygienist, Ashlee Miller, who will work at Central and at the Independence Clinic, with Dr. Ryan Cox.

-SHS is also adding a dental community education specialist. This position will promote dental health and awareness, through medical referrals and community outreach. This position will allow for greater outreach to the homeless population and for work in collaboration with SHS behavioral health services.

Beyond these expanded facilities and services, SHS is reaching out to Mid-America Headstart programs to provide additional dental screenings for children. So far, SHS has provided these dental exams and cleanings for four-year-olds in the Headstart programs in the Center and Grandview school districts.

This year, SHS will also provide Headstart screenings in the Raytown School District.

There’s no time like the present! Why not schedule a dental visit with us today? Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.

RESOURCES:

See SHS tips: Teaching Kids How to Take Care of Their Teeth

Grin and Bear It: Dentures Made at SHS Dental Lab

Most people who visit the dental offices at Swope Health Services barely notice the doorway leading to the Dental Lab. That’s where you’ll find a room that’s a combination workshop and studio for Keith Halvorsen, Dental Lab Technician.

His role is to make the dentures and partial dentures needed by SHS patients. This makes him something of an artist and an engineer. He works to get the most natural look and the best possible fit for his patients.

Halvorsen works closely with the six dentists at SHS. When one of them recommends a partial or full replacement denture for a patient, he participates in the discussion.

“My favorite part of the job is interacting with patients,” he said, noting that in his prior experience, working in a commercial lab, he never got to meet the people who used the restorations he created.

denturesAt SHS, when a dentist advises a patient to get teeth pulled for a partial or full set of dentures, Halvorsen helps guide the patient through the five-step process:

  1. At the first appointment, the dentist makes an evaluation and recommendation. Halvorsen comes in for an initial check and makes preliminary impressions while the teeth in question are still in place. In this phase, he’s looking to see if the patient’s bone structure can support the new denture.
  1. With a decision to move forward, a second, more usable impression is required. This one helps him plan out where the replacement teeth in the denture will fit, after the original teeth are pulled.
  1. On the patient’s third visit, he’ll make a bite rim. This is a template that shows how the patient’s jaws bite together. It’s necessary to make sure that the replacement teeth will be comfortable when the patient is talking and chewing. Each person’s mouth is unique, so the bite rim has to be customized for each patient. In this visit, he’ll also make notations about the fit, mark the centerline of the patient’s face for symmetry, and help determine the right color for the replacement teeth.
  1. At the next appointment, the patient tries out the wax model denture with the artificial teeth to make sure it looks and feels right. The patient has to be comfortable with the look and feel of the replacements. It’s only when the patient signs off that the final product is created.
  1. The last meeting is when the patient receives the final, completed denture, which is made of hard acrylic materials. It is also at this time that any final adjustments are made.

The entire process typically takes about a month, but emergency work can occur much faster.

Halvorsen is proud of his work, but admits he really wouldn’t mind if the demand was less. He wishes people would take better care of their teeth and not need dentures or partial replacements.

“Nothing can replace your natural teeth,” he said. “As good as our work is, it will never be as strong or feel as good as your real teeth. I love doing this work, but I hate seeing it come down to that — an artificial replacement for natural teeth.”

dentalHalvorsen’s Recommendations for Healthy Teeth

  • Brush your teeth after every meal. — Yes, carry a toothbrush with you or keep a spare at work. If you can’t brush after every meal, at least try to rinse with mouthwash.
  • Get in the habit of flossing your teeth. Every day. Make it part of your morning or evening ritual.
  • Avoid sweet syrupy soda drinks and candy. The sugars coat your teeth and, over time, eat away at the enamel. If you absolutely must drink soda, at least use a straw so the sugars don’t get a chance to coat your teeth.
  • See a dentist twice a year for a check-up and cleaning. If you have any tooth pain or other issues, see a dentist immediately.

Do you have questions about dental care? Leave a comment below. Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment in the SHS Dental Clinic. Our adult dental care clinic is often fully booked, so we encourage you to schedule now. 


Watch the 2 minute video to see how Keith Halverson makes dentures!

(If you’re unable to see the “Making Dentures” video, you can see it on YouTube.)

Teaching Kids How to Take Care of Their Teeth

Dr. Rita Burnett

Dr. Rita Burnett

Dr. Rita Burnett, Director of Dental Services, has more than 30 years’ experience in dentistry. She’s an advocate for children’s dental health and has loads of ways to make a first a dental visit a safe and even fun experience.

As this is National Children’s Dental Health Month, we asked Dr. Burnett about how she gets children started with healthy dental habits.

Do you teach children how to brush?

We talk a lot about brushing! I always ask them when they brush, and I explain how important it is to brush at night — to get rid of the food from all day.

I ask them about brushing their tongue, too. That might be a surprise sometimes. I tell them to start brushing in a different spot each time. That’s because you always brush hardest at the start.

I show them the right amount of toothpaste — about the size of a pea. And I remind them to change their tooth brush about every three or four months, or after they’ve had a cold. Get a new one when the bristles are splayed out.

What are some other milestones for dental care?

We like to see children typically at around three years old, but we’ve seen children as young as 12 months. When they are that young, we do a “lap exam” —when I sit knee to knee with a parent and the baby lies between us.

choose healthy foodsAt about age six, children get their permanent molars. This is when we like to apply a sealant on the chewing surface for protection against cavities.

At about age 10, I like to teach kids how to floss. I always talk about good habits and offer tips.

What kind of tips?

I explain that sugars and carbohydrates in foods can ferment on teeth — that creates plaque acids. If you have a sugary treat, you should brush or chew sugar-free gum afterward. Chewing gum for 20 minutes after eating stimulates saliva and that helps prevent cavities by reducing plaque acids.

Another option might surprise you. Research has shown that eating just a little cheddar cheese – about the size of a pair of dice – will also stimulate saliva and decrease the amount of acid on the teeth.

What’s the most important thing to teach children?

I want kids to feel comfortable at the dental clinic. I want them to like coming to the dentist, to feel safe and not afraid. I want to nurture them a little bit and build a relationship with them.

It’s so important to educate kids. Their oral health affects the rest of their health. I want them to make better decisions and learn good, healthy habits.

Have your children visited the dentist lately? Please call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment. Questions and comments welcome in the space below.

What Happens At A Child’s First Visit To The Dentist?

Dr. Rita Burnett

Dr. Rita Burnett

Dr. Rita Burnett, Director of Dental Services, has more than 30 years’ experience in dentistry. She’s an advocate for children’s dental health and has loads of ways to make a first dental visit a safe and even fun experience.

As this is National Children’s Dental Health Month, we asked Dr. Burnett to share with us what parents and children can expect on the first visit to the dentist.

What happens in that first dental visit?

The first visit is usually at about three years old. I introduce children to Mr. Thirsty — that’s what I call the little suction that removes saliva and water (kind of like a straw).

I usually talk about the explorer where I count their teeth and explain that I’m looking for dirty bugs. When I’m cleaning, I tell them that I’m going to tickle their teeth. I like to get them giggling.

I explain everything I do and work very slowly and gently. Sometimes kids are afraid or impatient, so we might not do much. But it’s still important to introduce them to the idea of checking their teeth and get them comfortable.

If we’re lucky, we might be able to take X-rays and apply a fluoride varnish for protection. That’s where we paint on a super-concentrated sticky “varnish” and let it soak into the teeth. Even though it’s flavored (cupcake, watermelon or butterscotch are the choices), the kids always make a face when they taste it. I can’t blame them!

Why check on baby teeth?

Baby teeth have a purpose! They are holding the place for permanent teeth as the child’s jaw grows. They need to be healthy until the permanent teeth appear. But most of all, I want kids to learn to take care of their teeth. I want to help them learn good healthy habits.

Dental Toys

Dr. Burnett has a lively collection of dental-related toys and figurines in her office. Most of them were gifts from her patients.

How often should children come to the dentist?

I like to see children every six months, once for an exam and then for a check-up. In these visits, I’m checking their baby teeth and permanent teeth for cavities. If there’s a lot of cavities — say four or five — I might prescribe a fluoride toothpaste.

If fewer cavities, I may recommend they use a fluoride rinse, if the parent is certain they will not swallow it! (Besides the possibility of an upset stomach, there can be a risk in taking in too much fluoride, which can cause a different set of dental problems.)

Do parents attend the visit, too?

Yes. I like to discuss home care and talk about good habits. I remind parents to brush their children’s teeth for them until a child is about five years old. Until that age, most kids lack the dexterity and manual control to brush properly.

I recommend a spin brush, too, to make sure that they’re brushing thoroughly — about 30 seconds in each quadrant of the mouth. Two minutes total. The spin brushes have lights and timers to make it fun, but even if you don’t have a spin brush you can make it a game or sing a song for the two minutes it takes to brush.

Sometimes smart rinses can help. These are products available over the counter to help with cleansing. You swish a little in your mouth then brush until the color is gone. That tells you that it cleaned out the bacteria that causes decay.

Is it time for your children to have an exam? Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment. Questions and comments welcome in the space below.

Sugar Wars