Thursday, October 22, 2009
Kids need to drink fluoridated water until they reach age nine

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Over the years we have learned of the value of fluoride for growing teeth. Children who drink fluoridated water have healthier teeth. Sussex County towns have now fluoridated their water. However, there are a lot of areas where children still have well water which creates a problem. Those children need fluoride for their developing teeth. If they do not get it in the water, then they should take vitamins with fluoride. The problem with this is that too much fluoride can hurt teeth. In the old days it was easy. If your water had fluoride in it, then your child needed no extra fluoride. If there was no fluoride in the water you gave your child vitamins with fluoride or fluoride drops. The problem we have now is that there are many ways for children to get fluoridated fluids. That might happen in restaurants, when they visit someone who is on city water, or if the family buys fluoridated drinking water. For that reason, there are days when children might need vitamins with fluoride and there are days when they might not. This creates a logistical problem for parents. If they give their child too little fluoride, then their teeth will not be strong enough. If they give their child too much fluoride then it might harm their teeth. The easiest solution is to give the child bottled water with fluoride in it. Infants who are breast fed should have vitamins with fluoride. Infants who are bottle fed should have their formula mixed with fluoridated water. As children get older they should drink fluoridated water. If the family prefers to buy water without fluoride or use water from a well, then vitamins with fluoride are the best approach. They should just not be used when the child is away from home in a location with fluoridated water. The fluoride does not coat the teeth like the fluoride that dentists put on the teeth or like fluoridate toothpaste. The ingested fluoride gets built right into the growing teeth. That is why it should begin before infants actually have teeth and we don't need to use it after age 8. By that time, the adult teeth are formed in the gums so fluoride is no longer necessary for their growth. We have been using fluoride in water for more than 40 years. It has led to a generation of children with very healthy teeth. It has also led us to think that vitamins with fluoride are no longer necessary. Parents still need to make sure their children are getting enough fluoride so that they grow up with healthy teeth.

H1N1 vaccine is more available As Delaware continues to see cases of H1N1 flu, many residents are asking when and where they might have the opportunity to receive an H1N1 vaccination, which is the best way to avoid the flu. Vaccine is being received on a week-by-week basis from the federal government, but the current plan is as follows: For pregnant women, H1N1 vaccine should be available at participating OB-GYN offices by the week of Oct. 19. Pregnant women should check with their OB-GYN regarding availability and ask for their doctor to provide the vaccine if they had not planned to make it available. For children and young people up to age 24 as well as adults with chronic health conditions and those who live or work with children under 6 months of age, vaccine should be available at participating pediatricians and family physicians offices by the week of Oct. 26. In November, we expect H1N1 vaccine to be more widely available, including in schools, at colleges, in pharmacies, and at some public health clinics. Because of limited quantities, H1N1 vaccine is initially reserved for those in the target groups most susceptible to H1N1 virus: pregnant women; children and young people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old; people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age; healthcare and emergency medical personnel; and people age 25 through 64 years with chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems. Eventually, once enough vaccine is available, the H1N1 vaccine is expected to be made available to anyone who wants to receive the vaccine. Flu season runs through May, so DPH will urge residents to be vaccinated for H1N1 some months to come. Note that the H1N1 vaccine is comparable to the seasonal flu vaccine in safety and effectiveness. Seasonal flu vaccine is currently available from many medical offices, at pharmacies and at public health clinics. The schedule for those clinics can be found at H1N1 is shown to affect people much like the seasonal flu virus. Most cases of H1N1 flu, like seasonal flu consist of symptoms that can be treated with rest or recovery. However, either flu can be very serious. Emergency medical care is only necessary if the following symptoms are seen. Severe illness warning signs in children are: fast breathing or trouble breathing; bluish skin color; not drinking enough fluids; not waking up or not interacting; being so irritable that the child does not want to be held; flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough; or fever with a rash. Severe illness warning signs in adults are: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen; sudden dizziness; confusion; or severe or persistent vomiting. The website contains a wealth of information and tips regarding the flu, as does the federal government flu website at

Seasonal flu shots offered It's time to get your seasonal flu shot.Influenza is a serious disease that affects many people, including the elderly and those with long-term health problems. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will be offering seasonal flu shots to individuals 18 and older at Nanticoke Occupational Health, 743 Shipley Street, Suite F, Seaford, from: 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 4 - 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4; and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Fridays, Oct. 23, Oct. 30 and Nov. 6. Cost is $10 per adult. Medicare Part B billing is available with proof of Medicare insurance. Pre-registration is required. Call Nanticoke Occupational Health at 629-6875 to pre-register and schedule an appointment.

New Hope Holiday workshop Delaware Hospice invites area children and teens who have lost a loved one to a New Hope Holiday Workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford. Participants will complete a holiday ornament in remembrance of their loved one, learn helpful coping skills to deal with the upcoming holidays and meet other children who have had the same experiences that they have. The Holiday Workshop is free and open to the community, thanks to the generous support of donors and volunteers. Registration is required. To register, call Lezley Sexton, 302-856-7717, ext. 3104, by Oct. 19.

Professional Caregiver Retreat Day Delaware Hospice's Family Support Center invites all those who work or volunteer in a helping profession to attend the Professional Caregiver Retreat Day on Friday, Nov. 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center, Milford. Dr. Judy Pierson, licensed clinical psychologist, published author and dynamic speaker, will discuss topics such as: the cost of caring–assess your own well-being; understanding vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue; strategies for coping with the stress of this work; and creating your own personal self-care plan. The retreat is $99 per person (continental breakfast and lunch included). Application has been made for 6.0 continuing education hours for social workers and nurses. Participants will leave with information about the impact of their work, specific coping techniques, and a strategy for improving their work life tomorrow. Due to space limitations, early registration is recommended. To register and for more information, call Vicki Costa, associate director of the Family Support Center, 302-856-7717, ext. 1129.

Hospice offers Grief Support group Delaware Hospice is offering an eight-week group meeting for adults who have experienced the death of a loved one. The group will meet Wednesday afternoons from 5 to 6:30 p.m., until Dec. 2, at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, 801 Middleford Road, Seaford. Find out what normal grief "looks" like; learn about the "tasks of mourning;" identify your coping style and develop coping skills that feel right for you; share as much or as little as you would like. This activity is provided free to the public by Delaware Hospice; however, registration is required. To register, call Paul Ganster at 302-357-7147.

Delaware Hospice Grief Retreat Delaware Hospice's Family Support Center will hold a two-day Grief Retreat on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 10 to 3 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 1, from noon to 3 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford. The retreat will be facilitated by Dr. Judy Pierson, licensed clinical psychologist. Admission is free and open to the public; however, registration is required due to space limitations. For more information and to register, call Vicki Costa, associate director of the Family Support Center, at 302-856-7717, ext. 1129.

Depression Support Group There is a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call Life Matters Counseling and Consulting at 302-465-6612.

LDAF plans Blue Jean Ball The Lower Delaware Autism Foundation's Blue Jean Ball Fall Art Show is slated for Friday, Oct. 23, at Nassau Valley Vineyards in Lewes. The theme encourages guests to wear blue jeans and bling while enjoying an evening featuring the sale of original works of art from over 20 local artists. The night offers a live art auction and sale, catering by Espuma Restaurant & Martini and Porcini House & Treetop Lounge, open bar and the live sounds of local favorite Love Seed Mama Jump. Tickets are available for $75 online at or by calling 644-3410. This year the committee has decided to auction off a pair of tickets to see Robin Williams live at the Borgata in Atlantic City on Saturday, Nov. 28. For more information, call Mary Landon Green, Program and Event coordinator, at 644-3410 or visit

Free women's health forum To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Beebe Medical Center's Tunnell Cancer Center and the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition are hosting a Women's Health Forum. The event, free and open to the public, will take place Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the McCurry Conference Room in the Medical Arts Building at the Beebe Health Campus, John J. Williams Highway, Rehoboth Beach. There will be a panel discussion about sexuality after menopause; cancer prevention, exercise and health; and women's health. A question-and-answer period will follow and light fare and beverages will be provided.