- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 14, 2000

Great strides have been made in the war on tooth decay in the last 50 years. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 50 percent of today's first-graders start school never having had a cavity a direct result of adding fluoride to water and toothpaste.
For more interesting tidbits about the world of teeth, check out the ADA Web site. Within the site's numerous pages, the association and its 141,000 members strive to keep the populace smiling by offering the very best in news and tips for the public and dentists.

ADA Online

Site address: www.ada.org


Founded in 1859 in Niagra Falls, N.Y., the American Dental Association is the oldest and largest dental association in the world. Its headquarters is now in Chicago.

Creator quotable:

"ADA Online brings the latest dental news and ADA resources to your computer," says Fred Peterson, spokesman for the ADA. "The ADA's award-winning Internet site includes oral-health resources for patients and consumers, dental professionals and dental students."

Word from the Webwise:

To the casual viewer, the ADA site might seem to be a "member only" environment for dentists to learn new ways to perfect their craft. However, visitors with a bit of patience and curiosity will find plenty of free, valuable health information.
The front page uses a nice mix of technology, graphics and text to present an extremely professional look. A rolling ticker tape provides the latest ADA news, which may appeal to some surfers, while a scrollable menu gets registered members around the site.
I suggest jumping right to the main area for the public (accessed through the "Patients and Consumers" button) to find 12 sections of helpful tips, advice and explanations for keeping the choppers in tiptop shape.
The sections include, "Find a Dentist," "Health & Safety," "Oral Health for Seniors," "Hot Topics," "Consumer FAQs," "Parents & Children," "Gum Disease" and the frightening "Root Canal Treatment" all of which lead to numerous articles presented in a list format.
For example, under "Hot Topics," click on the link "Oral Piercing" to discover why attaching objects to the inside of one's mouth may not be such a great idea. Besides sounding funny and the initial pain and swelling involved with the piercing, dentists many times find secondary infections, and a potential exists for blood-borne hepatitis.
Another "Hot Topics" link, "Tooth Whitening," offers a long page broken into plenty of news on getting one's teeth their pearliest. From color "before and after" photos to a release on laser whitening to safety guidelines for using in-home products, ADA Online offers a nice mix of information.
One place the family should peruse, "Parents & Children," features pages to help mom and dad teach junior proper oral hygiene. An additional area helps children and teen-agers learn about teeth. Adults with little ones will definitely want to read the "Tips for Parents" page, while the tykes can print out some mazes and coloring sheets in the "ADA Kids' Corner."

Ease of use:

ADA Online gives visitors a painless entrance into the masticating machine. With very logical text menus available on the left side of every page, a search engine and topical index, I was able to spend hours looking through the resources.
I had some problems with load times, but only with the various slide show clips and ADA video news releases, which can be a bit large for visitors with slower modems.

Family activity:

Under "Resources for Teachers & Students," the "Tips for Teachers" area will give visitors plenty of ideas to keep the entire clan focused on brushing and flossing their teeth.
For one eye-opening project, cut a one-inch hole in an apple and put the fruit in a brown bag. After a few days, cut through the place in the apple where the hole was made to be repulsed at the effects of decay. This project should be sufficient reminder for everyone to brush at least twice a day and floss once a day.

Don't miss:

Visitors will get the lowdown on the 17th most abundant element in the Earth's crust with a look at the "Fluoride and Fluoridation" area found under "Health & Safety." From the history of fluorine to "How Much Toothpaste is Enough" to the benefits, safety and public policy on fluoridation, surfers can spend plenty of time brushing up on this important and sometimes controversial topic.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

Children will get bored very quickly with the lack of activities and visual stimulation presented in the "ADA Kids' Corner." I suggest the ADA take a look at the Colgate (www.colgate.com) or Crest (www.crest.com) Web site for some amazing ways to keep children excited about taking care of their enamel buddies.
Family fun factor: 60 percent
Information grade: A
Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail messaage ([email protected]).

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