Helping Hawaii teens rethink sugary drinks

Sugary drinks are the number one source of excess calories in our diets, according to the Hawaii Dept. of Health. Drinking them too often can lead to serious health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes along with oral health problems. Hawaii’s teens are consuming more sugary drinks than any other age group, averaging almost nine per week, which can cause up to 10 lbs. of weight gain in a year. One way you can take action now? Have a glass of water instead of that can of soda or sugary coffies and energy drinks!

More information:

Sugary drinks are very bad for your health.

Hate getting cavities filled? SDF is minimally invasive dentistry.

here’s a tool to help prevent cavities that’s getting more and more attention. It’s called Silver Diamine Fluoride or SDF and can be used on adults and kids who don’t like to have their teeth drilled and filled at the dentist. Here are some reasons why the treatment might be right for you.

To learn more, visit the Hawaii Dental Hygiene Association’s at HDHA.NET

Hate getting cavities filled? Maybe minimally invasive dentistry with SDF is an option.

Free non-emergency dental care available in Honolulu to people without insurance

If you find yourself in excruciating pain from a toothache, don’t go to the emergency room. Aloha Medical Mission provides non-emergency dental care for free to anyone.

For more information:,

Aloha Medical Mission provides free medical care throughout the Pacific

Prenatal Dental Care for Kids

The Hawaii Dept. of Health stresses that taking care of your child’s teeth starts before they’re even born. The American Dental Association recommends children see a dentist before they reach their first birthday for preventive care and to detect any problem areas early. Dr. Gavin Uchida, dental director with the Hawaii Dept. of Health, and Dr. Emilie Sumida, a dentist who practices in Wailuku, Maui, give us insights about the importance of early care for children’s teeth.

Baby teeth are important too.

Improving dental care for Native Hawaiians

Having healthy teeth and gums have a direct impact on your overall health. While some people don’t realize this, others merely can’t afford the high cost of dental care. Native Hawaiians experience the most disparities in oral health, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health. The agency is working with partners, like Papa Ola Lokahi, to take action in changing this.
For more information:,

Oral Health for Native Hawaiians

Department of Health Leads Statewide Oral Health Screening


Reported by Wayne Yoshioka, Oct 17, 2017

A statewide coalition of health professionals, educators, business and community representatives are teaming up to record oral health data in Hawai’i. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.

Two years ago, the state Department of Health, Hawai’i Smiles Report, confirmed that 71 percent of 3rd graders had tooth decay, nearly one third were untreated and 7 percent were in need of urgent dental care.  Today, a statewide oral health screening project is being launched to build on those findings.  Dr. Gavin Uchida is the Health Department’s Dental Director.

“Over the next 4 months we’re gonna be screening every child who’s enrolled in a Head Start or an Early Head Start Center and we’re looking in their mouths and looking and seeing with our own eyes what their rates of pathology are related to dental cavities.  And where areas in the state people are having treatment and kids are being seen and where they’re not being seen.”

Dr. Uchida and his team -- Photo by Wayne Yoshioka

Dr. Uchida and his team -- Photo by Wayne Yoshioka

Uchida says the data will used to educate lawmakers and help communities develop prevention strategies.   A total of 3-thousand Early Head Start and Head Start students from birth to age 5 will be participating in oral screening statewide.   The first location is The Towers at Kuhio Park with 100 students.

“Go Ahhh.  Really big.”

Demi Pham, a first year pediatric dentistry resident is doing the screening.  U-H School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene Assistant Professor, Deborah Mattheus, completes the diagnosis.

“This is Rea. She’s 3 years old.  And the dental exam showed she didn’t have any untreated decay, no arrested decay and no treated decay.  So the parents will get an information sheet that says that they had their screening today.  So she actually had urgency was none for follow-up treatment.”

The Hawai’i Children’s Action Network is coordinating the statewide project.  Deborah Zysman is the executive director.

“Teeth are life-long for your health.  We know that children, if you have oral health issues, it’s difficult to eat, you have problems with nutrition and children have difficulty in school if they’re having issues with their teeth.  Why we’re participating is, right now, we think that our children have really poor oral health but we don’t know much about it.”

Federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawai’i Dental Service Foundation will enable the coalition to complete the project.  Shere Saneishi Kim is the Foundation director.

“Our mission is to improve oral health in Hawai’i.  And so the foundation gave $137-thousand grant to the Hawai’i Children’s Action Network last year.  This one was $43-thousand to do the Head Start and Early Head Start, statewide.”

Meanwhile, State Dental Director Uchida says the 4-month study will provide useful data on dental decay and oral hygiene but it will be limited in terms of offering broad-based solutions.

“While dental cavities are purely preventable and they’re related to simply too much sugar consumption and not enough brushing, the factors that contribute to that, are social complex factors and it takes more than just a simple recipe to try to solve what’s ultimately a social, cultural and a lifestyle problem.”

For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.



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