HEALTH-O-WEEN, Keeping the Dentist & Doctor Away

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

candy-around-pumpkins.jpgHalloween is rearing its jack-o-lantern-shaped head and, of course, most kids couldn’t be any more excited. Partaking in costumes and trick-or-treating have become pastimes for American children. Despite the joy of the tradition, however, there is one aspect of the holiday that the adolescents love but their dentists may hate: sugar-based candy. With Halloween being ages old, maybe it’s time to start a new, healthy tradition for Halloween treats?

As future dentists, surely we all know the negative effects of sugar on the dentition—dental caries being the obvious result. Young children are largely affected by this disease. As report by, 52 million school hours are lost each year due to dental disease. Also, by age 11, 50% of kids experience tooth decay. According to the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research, 42% of children 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth and 23% of children 2 to 11 have untreated caries.

Indulging in Snickers, Skittles, Hershey bars, candy corn, etc. may not be too harmful to children if consumed in moderation. As future dental professionals, however, we still need to acknowledge and cater to adolescents who have cannot eat Halloween candy because of food allergies. According to, 1 in 13 children have allegoric reactions (some even life threatening) to certain foods. It doesn’t help that most popular candy bars contain common allergens like nuts, soy, eggs, wheat, and dairy.

tppprofilepicpublic.pngThe Teal Pumpkin Project was launched as a national campaign in 2014 by FARE—Food Allergy Research & Education. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about food allergies. This idea is the brainchild of Becky Basalone, Civil Servant and Founder/Director of the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee. She also the mother of a child with severe food allergies. At Halloween, she decided to hand out alternatives to candy, such as small toys and other non-edible fun treats and created a movement to enable her kids to partake in the holiday.

Teal is the color of choice for Basalone’s project because it is the national color for food allergy awareness. If you are trick-or-treating and see a teal-painted pumpkin on someone’s front yard, do not expect to receive candy. If you’re not sure what to hand out in lieu of sugary snacks, think about other things children enjoy. Crayons, bracelets, markers, necklaces, stickers, bubbles, noisemakers, action figures, and other toys are all good alternatives.

The Teal Pumpkin Project has significantly grown in popularity and is widely embraced by parents around the country. The campaign has reached 5.5 million people on Facebook and attracted national media attention.

This Halloween, let’s make healthy decisions for the children. They can still partake in the joy of the holiday without indulging in junk food. Let’s give them treats that do not negatively affect their oral health or trigger allergies. Breaking tradition in this case should be accepted because the health of our children is worth preserving.


Tags: children, dentistry, halloween, children's health

Professor's Perspective: Dental Educator & Clinician John Christensen

Posted by Christina Ferraro on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 @ 05:26 PM

This is the first in a series of interviews highlighting THE NEXTDDS Academic Advisory Board members and their views on dental education today. From their choices in digital tools in the classroom to what advice they would give current dental students, these academicians will weigh in on their experiences.


Advisory Board Christensen

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John Christensen, DDS, MS, MS

Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics


What is the most rewarding aspect of your dental specialty?

Working with a varied population daily (children and adolescents) who make every appointment different.  You never know what is coming next.


What digital or online tools do you use in the classroom or clinical setting?

Digital photos, x-rays, models for orthodontic diagnosis. I use Dolphin software to help work up orthodontic cases.  I use Pubmed, Google scholar alerts for information and education. is the best resource for trauma available.


How often do you assign students material that requires online research?

Often, it is a way of getting journal articles without the journal.


What advice can you give current dental students nearing graduation who are interested in your specialty?

Visit dentists in the specialty you are considering and observe for more than an afternoon.  Do they seem happy? Challenged? Frustrated?  That tells you a lot about the specialty.


Does this generation of students present any unique challenges to educators? 

Yes, the amount of information available to students is almost overwhelming.  Couple that with all the information coming from news, social media, etc. and I think the current generation has a difficult time finding time to focus on the material at hand. Multitasking is not the answer.


What do you find to be the most difficult dental concept to teach?

Critical thinking to apply different concepts to a single problem.  Students often know A, know B, and know C.  What they have trouble with is combining A, B, and C to make D which is the best solution to the problem.


What digital adjunct materials do you find most useful for students, and for what lessons do you use them? for resource.  Dolphin Imaging to see what treatment might look like. 


Why did you choose your specialty?

Children create another dimension to treatment and that is time.  They change and one needs to understand growth and development to incorporate the changes into the treatment solutions.


What do you wish you had known about the dental industry as a whole when you were a student?

My father was a dentist so I knew most of what was happening.  I wish I knew more about where we are going.  Will dentistry and dentists just become technicians providing services or will we continue to be part of the health team?

Tags: children, orthodontic, classroom, student, dental, elearning, educator, online

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