Neglected Baby Teeth Cause Grown-Up Problems

With 78 percent of all adults experiencing at least one cavity in their teeth by the age of 17, teaching children excellent oral health habits at a young age is vitally important to their future dental health. But it goes much further than that, because poor oral hygiene in children can cause a host of dental problems – both in the future and in the present. Dr. Allison Lesko of Fort Collins, Colorado, explains why oral health is crucial in children.

“I think some people assume that since they’re just going to fall out anyway, baby teeth aren’t important,” says Lesko. “But not caring for baby teeth can set your child up for a lifetime of dental problems.”

What kind of problems? For starters, Lesko says baby teeth are more important than many people realize.

“Baby teeth are like starter teeth. Teaching your child to care for baby teeth is a great way to set them up for a lifetime of proper oral hygiene,” she says.

But that’s not all. Baby teeth can impact future teeth, too.

“Baby teeth act as placeholders for adult teeth,” Lesko says. “If they are severely decayed and need to be removed, those gaps and spaces can cause crowding issues when the adult teeth come in.”

According to Lesko, it goes even deeper. Cavities in children have been shown to cause adverse effects in their education. According to the Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP), children with cavities missed up to three times more school than those without cavities because of oral pain. Another study out of Los Angeles found that dental pain was so prevalent, an estimated one-third of absences in lower-income elementary-school-aged children were dental related, and in yet another study, high-school-aged children experiencing prolonged dental pain were about four times more likely to have a lower GPA.

“Children can’t focus on school when they’re suffering from dental pain,” Lesko says. “And waiting too long to fix cavities can equate to missed school due to dental appointments and the child simply not feeling well enough to attend.”

So, what, as a parent, can you do to protect children’s oral health? The key, says Lesko, is prevention.

“Teach your children to properly care for their teeth,” Lesko says. “That means brushing twice a day for at least two minutes at a time and flossing at least once a day.”

But don’t just take their word for it, she says.

“Follow up – especially with younger kids,” Lesko says. “Make sure they are brushing and flossing, and make sure you are doing your due diligence as a parent and taking them to their regularly scheduled dental exams.”

Contact The Fort Collins Dentist Family & Implant Dentistry:


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2001 S Shields St Bldg L
Fort Collins, Colorado

Athletes at Higher Risk for Poor Oral Health

If you or your child are an athlete, you’re probably already in excellent physical health. But what about your oral health? You might think that because you take care of your body and your teeth, your oral health is in great shape. But a new study by the University College of London and published in the British Dental Journal says you could be dangerously mistaken.

The study followed 352 athletes of both genders, examining their teeth for decay, acid erosion and the health of their gums – all things that are checked at a regular oral health checkup, according to Fort Collins, Colorado, dentist Dr. Allison Lesko.

Lesko says what they found was quite startling.

“The athletes did take better-than-average care of their teeth, meaning they were more likely to brush twice a day for two minutes per brushing, and floss at least once a day,” Lesko says. “But somehow, these athletes had a higher rate of cavities.”

In fact, almost 50 percent of the athletes in the study had untreated tooth decay and early-stage gum disease. Nearly a third even claimed that these oral health problems hurt their athletic training and performance.

Researchers were baffled. How could people who take such excellent care of their teeth and overall health have such a higher instance of dental problems than the rest of us? The answer lies in something athletes use that the rest of us don’t.

“Sports-performance products,” says Lesko. “Things like sports drinks, energy gels and energy bars are the likely culprits here.”

That’s because sports and energy products are packed with something that may be good for athletic performance, but isn’t so great for the teeth: sugar.

“The sugar in some of these energy products sits on the teeth, feeding that bacteria that cause the plaque acid, which creates cavities,” says Lesko. “And if you’re training, you may not have time to run to the bathroom and brush after each time you use these products.”

Lesko says while the sugar and acids from sports drinks can stick to the teeth, busy athletes should rinse with water after drinking.

“And try not to drink the same drink all day,” she says. “Try to finish the drink quickly and drink some water.”

As for the gels and bars, these products are arguably more dangerous because they can stick to and between the teeth, so dentists like Lesko recommend brushing after eating.

“We know it’s not always easy to stop playing or practicing to brush your teeth, but try to get to a toothbrush as soon as you can,” she says. “It can go a long way toward keeping the teeth – and your game – healthy.”

Contact The Fort Collins Dentist Family & Implant Dentistry:


Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

2001 S Shields St Bldg L
Fort Collins, Colorado

Important News About Pregnancy and Fluoridated Water

A recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics has found that drinking too much fluoridated water during pregnancy may account for a nominal dip in IQ in male children. The Canadian study revealed that among pregnant women whose urine contained fluoride, an increase of 1 milligram accounted for an average 4.5-point reduction in their sons’ IQs. For those with girls, no significant decrease in IQ points was present.

Despite these findings, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association still recommend pregnant women continue drinking fluoridated water, though both organizations recommend possibly reducing the amount consumed while pregnant.

Dr. Allison Lesko of Fort Collins, Colorado, agrees.

“Fluoridated water is still an excellent way to get the much-needed fluoride to protect your teeth and your child’s developing teeth from cavities,” she says.

Cavities affect up to 90 percent of the population, with one in four adults having untreated cavities.

“Poor oral health can take its toll on overall health, especially in pregnant women,” says Lesko.

Things like gum disease have been proven to cause low birth weight in babies, and gum disease can be caused by cavities if the cavity irritates the gums.

“Our oral health is tied closely to our overall health, and that includes both the teeth and gums,” Lesko says.

Another organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, echoes the importance of oral health care during pregnancy and continues to recommend pregnant women brush with fluoridated toothpaste during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has agreed to consider this new information when updating its pregnancy guidelines.

Lesko, for her part, says it’s important for people to not misunderstand the study and be scared away from fluoride altogether.

“The recommendation of the study’s authors is that pregnant women reduce fluoride levels, not discontinue them entirely,” she says.

Lesko recommends alternating fluoridated tap water with un-fluoridated bottled water.

“By simply swapping out a few glasses of water per day with un-fluoridated water, you can cut your fluoride levels and hopefully boost the IQ a little bit,” she says. “But be sure to continue drinking fluoridated water to some degree and make sure to resume your normal level of fluoridated water intake after the pregnancy.”

If by chance you do still develop gingivitis or cavities during pregnancy, Lesko says don’t panic.

“We can still perform fillings during pregnancy.”

Gingivitis is a common pregnancy issue. Upwards of 70 percent of women develop what is known as pregnancy gingivitis, sometimes despite excellent oral care. The good news, according to Lesko, is that the condition usually clears up on its own following the birth of the child. However, pregnant women are still encouraged to visit the dentist frequently during pregnancy to monitor their oral health.


Contact The Fort Collins Dentist Family & Implant Dentistry:


Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

2001 S Shields St Bldg L
Fort Collins, Colorado

The Surprising Benefits of Chewing Gum

With so much misinformation out there about gum (no, it doesn’t stay in your stomach for seven years if you swallow it), it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Here’s a go-to guide to learn everything you need to know about chewing gum!

Yes, It Really Is Good for Your Teeth!

Believe it or not, chewing sugarless gum is actually good for your teeth. That’s because it neutralizes the acid that cavity-causing bacteria thrive on. This in turn helps prevent cavities.

It Freshens Your Breath

It’s probably safe to say that everyone wants fresh, clean breath – and chewing sugarless gum can freshen your breath without adding dangerous sugars that can harm your teeth. Cleaner, fresher breath not only feels great, but it’s also a great little confidence boost. Especially when you consider that a recent study by found that of 5,000 singles surveyed, 43 percent chose fresh breath as the most important thing prior to a date!

It Reduces Stress

Chewing gum reduces stress because it reduces the stress-causing chemical known as cortisol. Cortisol is a dangerous stress hormone that can interfere with everything from information retention to learning and even immune function. It can also reduce bone density, increase weight gain, and raise cholesterol and blood pressure. Worse yet, high levels of cortisol have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Another study found that the pleasant smell and taste of chewing gum stimulates the senses and creates a feeling of pleasure in the brain.

It Improves Alertness

Chewing gum was found to help chewers retain information when completing memory-related tasks. It also has been proven to improve the attention span and even reaction times. Find yourself tired at that 4 p.m. meeting? Chew a stick of sugarless gum for an instant pick-me-up!

It Aids in Weight Loss

Chewing gum is a great way to get that sweet taste you are craving without ruining your diet on sweets. In conjunction with a reduced-calorie, increased-activity diet, chewing gum can even help manage hunger and help increase weight loss. But don’t expect it to do all the work for you – remember, chewing gum works to help your diet, it should not be your diet.

It’s Fun!

OK, admit it: You’re never too old to blow a bubble. What other food can you do that with? So go ahead and reach for that sugarless gum -without the guilt – and have fun with it!

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lesko, please call 970-221-5115.

Contact The Fort Collins Dentist Family & Implant Dentistry:


Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

2001 S Shields St Bldg L
Fort Collins, Colorado

2019 Dental Resolutions

It’s that time of year again when we cast aside the old and welcome the new – New Year’s resolutions, that is. Whether this year you’re resolving to lose weight, quit smoking or try a new hobby, New Year’s resolutions are admirable goals for anyone to have, especially if they’re for your health. This year, when you sit down to make your resolutions, don’t forget one very important aspect of your life: your oral health. Try these suggestions to make 2019 your best oral health year ever!