Posted by & filed under Health, Oral Care, Prevention.

smiling teen girl with bracesGastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as its more common and easier to pronounce acronym GERD, is an uncomfortable problem associated with digestion. But while the issue originates in the gut it can have a negative on oral health, especially in kids. If your child suffers from GERD, our Long Island pediatric dental office has some insight for you.

What Is GER/GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is the medical term used to explain what happens when stuff inside the stomach comes up into the esophagus. The result is often the feeling of heartburn or indigestion. If symptoms of GER happen more than two times a week for several weeks, it could be a sign of GERD. GERD is a more serious, long-lasting problem that can lead to more health concerns. It’s important to note that if someone has GER, it doesn’t always mean they have GERD.

Dental Concerns Linked to GERD

Since GER/GERD increases the mouth’s exposure to acid, it also increases the risk for dental problems and tooth damage. In fact, acid is one of the worst things for our pearly whites. It can easily wear down protective tooth enamel, increase the risk of decay, and quite literally eat away at teeth. Children with GER/GERD are more likely to have bad breath, decay, and cavities than those without the condition. Kids dealing with the effects of GER/GERD may also experience increased sensitivity, which can be painful and make them not want to brush their teeth. However, it’s crucial that they still brush and floss regularly. Using a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help reduce any discomfort.

Signs of GERD

Signs of GER or GERD vary from person to person and can even be different based on age. Besides feeling the discomfort of heartburn, there are several other common symptoms including:

  • Acidic taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Holes in teeth

How to Reduce the Risk of Dental Problems

Your pediatric dentist in Long Island, as well as your pediatrician, may recommend certain changes in diet and habits to help reduce GERD symptoms and dental problems associated with it. Some recommendations include:

  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks
  • Stay away from sour treats
  • Limit spicy foods
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Chew thoroughly

While it’s important for all kids to visit the dentist regularly, it’s incredibly crucial for those with GERD. Dental visits at least every six months can help protect smiles from the acid produced from GERD or catch any problems early when they’re easily treatable. If your little one is in need of a dentist, we welcome you to call our pediatric dental office in Long Island to schedule an appointment with us today.

Posted by & filed under Dental Emergency, General Dentistry, Prevention.

children at schoolNobody wants to get that call from their child’s school saying that there was an accident on the playground or during gym class. But as parents, we all know that sometimes accidents happen, and sometimes those accidents happen at school. But what do you do if your kid has a dental emergency? Our pediatric dental office in Long Island is here to help.

Best Things to do During a Dental Emergency

  • Call your Long Island pediatric dentist. Most dental offices block off appointments that can be used to treat dental emergencies, so try calling your child’s dentist first. Chances are they’ll do everything they can to see your child sooner rather than later. Even if there is no appointment available, the dental team may also be able to give you advice on how to minimize any pain and will schedule you an appointment as soon as possible   
  • Consider going to the emergency room. It’s important to note that not every dental emergency requires a trip to the emergency room. However, if the injury also involved the head or if there’s any risk of head trauma, go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Stay calm – for your sake and your child’s. Try your best to talk with your child using a soft and gentle tone. This helps both relax you and your child.
  • If there’s blood, don’t panic. This tip may be easier said than done, but don’t be too alarmed if there seems to be a lot of blood. Injuries to the head, face, and mouth tend to bleed more than other areas of the body. Control bleeding by using a clean compress to cover the area and apply light pressure. This should slow or stop the bleeding pretty quickly. If the bleeding still continues after fifteen or so minutes, go to the emergency room.
  • Don’t touch tooth roots. If the dental injury involves a tooth that’s been knocked out, don’t touch the roots of the tooth or wash it off with water. The best thing to do with a knocked out tooth is to either gently place it back into the socket, hold it under the tongue, or place it in a glass of milk. These are short-term solutions and you should visit the dentist immediately.
  • Avoid putting aspirin on gums. Some articles online claim that putting a crushed up aspirin on the gums can help relieve a toothache. However, this can actually do more harm than good as aspirin applied directly to the gums can result in tissue damage. Have your child take medication as directed and use a cold compress to ease any pain.

If your child experiences a dental emergency or if you have questions, we welcome you to call our Long Island pediatric dental office. We’re here to help!

Posted by & filed under General Dentistry, Oral Care, Prevention.

candy applesAnother candy-packed holiday is right around the corner, and our pediatric dental office in Long Island is busy getting into the spirit of Halloween. From pumpkins and fall colors, to costumes and hayrides, there’s a lot to be excited about this time of year. But as we all know, candy is one of those things that’s scarier to us than any goblin or ghoul.

Candy Concerns

We know that when we start talking about the dental dangers of candy it may seem that we’re putting a damper on one of the biggest parts of Halloween. But there’s a good reason we encourage our patients’ parents to limit the amount of sweet treats. While sugar itself doesn’t create cavities, it does give the bacteria that live in the mouth plenty to feed on. When this happens, the bacteria produce an acid that will erode tooth enamel and a cavity can form. Even though we recommend enjoying candy and foods with a lot of sugar in moderation, there are other foods that could be even spookier for your child’s teeth.

Chips & Crackers

While the sugar in sweet snacks are often thought of as the most likely to cause cavities, there are other surprising snacks that can be even more dangerous. While often considered pretty harmless and perhaps even healthy snacks, chips and crackers can contain ingredients that put teeth at greater risk for cavities than most candies. This is because of the high starch content found in these types of foods. Starches can have a very similar effect on the body as sugars, even though they don’t have a sweet taste.

Starchy Foods & Oral Health

First and foremost, starchy foods such as crackers and chips become sticky as they’re chewed. This makes it really easy for them to leave pieces stuck in the crevices of teeth. Second, chips and crackers have something called a high glycemic index. The glycemic index is basically a scale used to explain how likely a food is to raise blood glucose level as the food is broken down. This essentially means certain non-sweet foods can have a similar effect on your body and your oral health as, you guessed it, sugar. The combination of stickiness and high glycemic index is a recipe for a scary situation. Again, bacteria are left to feed on the leftover food particles, produce the acidic byproduct, and the result is a cavity.

Protecting Teeth

Whether your child treats himself to a few pieces of candy or enjoys a few crackers this Halloween, make sure he drinks plenty of water to help wash away sugars and neutralize acid. As always, make sure he is brushing and flossing regularly and seeing his pediatric dentist in Long Island at least twice a year.

From all of us at our Long Island pediatric dental office, we wish you and your family a safe and happy Halloween.

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, Mouthguards, Oral Care, Prevention.

boy with sports mouthguardAs the fall sports season gets underway, it’s a fitting time to talk about the importance of sports mouthguards. An estimated one-third of all dental injuries are sports-related. Our pediatric dental office in Long Island wants the parents of our patients to know that most of these injuries can be prevented by using a properly fitted sports mouthguard.

Common Sports-Related Dental Injuries

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s “Policy on Prevention of Sports-related Orofacial Injuries” attribute as many as 39% of all child dental injuries to direct hits from a ball or another player. Some of the most common injuries are:

  • Cuts to the lips, gums, cheeks, or tongue
  • Chipped teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Knocked out teeth
  • Broken jaw

A mouthguard will greatly reduce the risk of all of these injuries.

Different Types of Mouthguards

There are types of sports mouthguards that can help protect your child: Stock, Boil-and-Bite, Custom. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

  • Stock mouthguards come already formed and are usually the least expensive option. You can find them at any sporting goods store. However, these cheaper options are usually uncomfortable and don’t offer the best protection.
  • Boil-and-Bite options are exactly as they sound — you boil them until their soft and moldable, then you bite down gently to mold them to teeth. While offering a more custom fit, these mouthguard often require trimming, making them less effective.
  • Custom is the way to go for the best protection and most comfort. Custom-fitted mouthguards are created by a dentist from custom molds of teeth, taking each tooth and mouth size into consideration.

Proper Mouthguard Care

To keep your child’s mouthguard in good shape and bacteria free, it’s important to take care of it properly.

  • Rinse it with warm water after every use
  • Store it in a plastic case with good ventilation
  • Keep it out of extreme heat
  • Soak it briefly in mouthwash occasionally to kill germs

Since kids are always growing and their teeth are always shifting, you should replace a child’s mouthguard every year to year and a half.

More Than Mouth Protection

The main purpose of a mouthguard is to protect teeth from being broken, chipped, or knocked out during competition. But these small pieces of sporting equipment can serve a bigger a purpose, too. Mouthguards can cushion the jaw bones and reduce the risk of concussions. A better-fitting mouthguard will do a better job at protecting both teeth, jaw, and brain.

This fall sports season, and during all contact sports, make sure your child is wearing a properly fitted mouthguard at all times. It’s a simple way to save your little one from a dental emergency and your wallet from costly care. Schedule an appointment at our Long Island pediatric dental office to find the best sports mouthguard for your kid today.

Posted by & filed under General Dentistry, Health, Oral Care.

whole grainsSeptember is recognized as Whole Grains Month and is a 30-day celebration for all things grainy. These whole grains are beneficial for heart health, overall health, and may even boost oral health too. At our Long Island pediatric dental office, we know that eating a well-balanced diet, including a good amount of whole grains, can help kids develop good habits and grow up healthy. In this blog we cover some quick facts about whole grains as well as some of the best ways you can help your family get enough of the good stuff.

How Many Servings of Whole Grains Do My Kids Need?

Like most things, the recommended amount of whole grains varies from age to age and even by gender. Use the handy table below from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to determine how many whole grains each member of your family should eat every day.

Recommended Daily Whole Grain Servings

Age Female Male
1-3 2 2
4-8 2.5 2.5
9-13 3 3.5
14-18 3.5 4
19-30 3.5 4.5
31+ 3 4

Great Sources of Whole Grain

Getting enough whole grains in your kid’s diet may seem difficult, but whole grains can be found in tons of yummy foods including:

  • Cereals
  • Popcorn
  • Bread or Wraps
  • Crackers
  • Pasta

How Do Whole Grains Help Grins?

Whole grains are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are great for bodies of all ages. In terms of oral health, the B vitamins and iron found in whole grains help keep gums healthy and the magnesium keeps bones and teeth strong. Research also shows that eating a good dose of them can also reduce the risk of gum disease since whole grains help the body better process blood sugar. As we all know, sugar makes your pediatric dentist in Long Island shiver, and anything that helps protect the body against it is welcomed.

Ensuring that your whole family is eating a well-balanced diet can go a long way in keep both bodies and smiles healthy. Getting them regular dental checkups every six months can help too.  If your child is in need of a dentist, call our pediatric dental office in Long Island to schedule an appointment.

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, Prevention.

kid going back to schoolAt our pediatric dental office in Long Island, we believe preventive dentistry is the best way to protect kids’ growing smiles. That’s one reason why we always recommend that they come see us at least every six months — plus, we just love when they visit!  It’s also a smart idea to have your children get a dental checkup before they head back to school. Why? We’re glad you asked!

Keeping Mouths — And Bodies! — Healthy

Keeping regular appointments with your pediatric dentist in Long Island is great for the prevention of oral health problems, but these visits are also an important part of keeping kids healthy overall. Some whole-body concerns that have been linked to poor oral health include:

  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity

Seeing the dentist bi-annually allows your dental team to catch and treat any oral health problems early, before they can affect the rest of the body.

Stay in School

In order to get the best education possible, kids have to be in class. But as we all know, things happen. Kids get sick, and the common cold and flu can keep kids out of the classroom and away from learning. However, dental problems are also a common reason for absence. According to the American Journal of Public Health Dentistry, on average, kids miss about six days of school per year. Of those six days, two are due to some type of dental issue. You can decrease your child’s likelihood of needing to be absent because of an oral health problem by having a checkup before school starts to ensure everything is in tip-top shape.

Aiming for A’s

If kids are missing school due to a dental problem, they aren’t able to learn that day’s lessons and can get behind. This may make tests more challenging and grades can be affected. But even if kids are attending class while they’re experiencing a dental problem, they may still be at a disadvantage. It’s easy to be distracted when we experience pain, and a toothache is no different. Distracted learning could certainly have a negative effect on kids’ grades.

Getting a back to school dental checkup is a great way to check for any potential oral health problems that could keep kids out of class and potentially lead to other whole-body concerns.

Start the school year off on the right foot, schedule an appointment with our Long Island pediatric dental office today!

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, General Dentistry, Health, Oral Care, Oral Development.

couple with smiling babyAugust is National Breastfeeding Month and serves to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is good for both mom and baby, produces milk that can be easier for your child to digest, and will save money. But breastfeeding is a personal choice made between moms and dads, and it may not be right for everyone. If you’re deciding whether or not to breastfeed, you’re probably reading up on the pros and cons in order to make the best choice for your family. Our pediatric dental office in Long Island would like to help by giving you some information about how breastfeeding can affect your baby’s oral health.

Bite Development

The way our teeth develop begins very early in life, and many things such as pacifiers or bottles can disrupt the natural shape of a bite. Breastfeeding may reduce this and help babies develop a better, more aligned bite. In fact, several studies show that babies who were breastfed for the first six months of their lives had a lower occurrence of alignment concerns including overbites and crossbites than babies who never breastfed or did so for less than six months. However, it’s important to note that breastfeeding may not eliminate all chances for bite concerns as genetics and thumbsucking can also affect bite development.

Baby Bottle Decay

Baby bottle decay is a very real concern for your Long Island pediatric dentist. Baby bottle decay typically happens due to exposure to too much sugar, and more specifically, sugary drinks including milk, formula, or juice. It often occurs when anything other than water is given to a child at bedtime when he will be exposed to the sugars for a prolonged period of time. Breastfeeding babies have a lower chance of developing baby bottle decay since there isn’t an opportunity for baby to nurse a bottle all night.

Cavities

Even though breastfeeding can reduce the likelihood of baby bottle decay, it’s important to know that cavities can still happen. Since breastmilk does contain sugar, your child’s teeth are still being exposed, just in smaller doses. To help keep cavities away, whether you breastfeed or not, remember to gently rub a damp washcloth over your child’s gums to help remove some sugars that may get left behind.

Whether you decide that breastfeeding is the right choice for you or not, it’s important to always keep an eye on your baby’s oral health and see a pediatric dentist regularly. Appointments every six months will help monitor tooth eruption, bite development, as well as give your dental team a chance to catch any signs of decay early.

If it’s time for your baby’s first dental appointment, you’re in between dentists, or it’s been awhile since your child has seen one, we welcome you to call our Long Island pediatric dental office to schedule an appointment. Our team has years of experience caring for even the littlest smiles and can keep kids calm and relaxed at every visit. Schedule an appointment with us today!

toddler sticking out tongue

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, General Dentistry, Oral Care.

If you experience a little bleeding when brushing or flossing you may not think much of it. But when it comes to your kids it can be especially concerning. It’s important to note that bleeding is never normal, for kids or adults, and can be a sign of something serious. At our pediatric dental office in Long Island we look for signs of bleeding gums at every visit and can usually attribute the problem to one of four things. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common reasons behind bleeding gums…

First Flossing

Kids should begin flossing as soon as they have two teeth that touch each other. This usually happens between age two and six. While they may need your help at first, they’ll quickly be able to floss properly on their own. But during the first few flossings they may experience some bleeding. This type of bleeding is actually ok and shouldn’t be a concern. Over time it should decrease and go away.

Super Scrubbing

It seems logical that the harder you scrub, the cleaner your teeth will be. While that may be true for some things, it’s quite the opposite for teeth. Brushing too hard can damage gums or cause them to recede. The result? Sore, bleeding gums. Aggressive brushing can also wear down tooth enamel which leaves teeth at increased risk for decay and cavities.

Dry as a Desert

One way the mouth works to keep itself healthy is to produce lots of saliva. Saliva helps protect teeth and gums from the damaging effects of bacteria and acid. Without it, a mouth becomes really dry which may not only cause bad breath and lead to cavities, it can allow bacteria to get up under the gums. If this occurs, gums become more sensitive and could start to bleed.

Gum Disease

If bacteria does get under the gum line and it’s not removed it can lead to an infection known as gum disease. Gum disease is usually paired with swollen gums, bad breath, and bleeding gums. While gum disease can be treated, it can lead to some serious problems if left alone. To prevent gum disease, encourage your child to properly brush twice a day and floss once a day to remove bacteria and plaque buildup and see their pediatric dentist in Long Island regularly.

Prevention is key to keeping gums healthy. Appointments every six months give your child’s dental team the opportunity to catch any potential problem and correct it before it leads to more complex concerns. Schedule an appointment at our Long Island pediatric dental office today.

Posted by & filed under General Dental Articles, Oral Care.

adorable baby with bonnetEvery July, healthcare professionals across the nation join together to promote awareness of and educate the population on birth defects of the head and face. Some of these birth defects include those around the mouth such as cleft lip and cleft palate. The team at our pediatric dental office in Long Island wants to do our part this month and help raise awareness and understanding of these birth defects.

What is Cleft Lip?

Throughout nine months of pregnancy, a baby is growing organs and arms, toes and fingers, and eventually the face. The formation of the face is especially interesting since both sides of it continue to grow inward until they join in the middle. That process, typically occurring between weeks four and seven of pregnancy, is when babies develop their facial features, including the lips. However, if the left side of the face doesn’t fully connect to the right during development, the baby may have a gap in the upper lip. This is known as cleft lip.

What is Cleft Palate?

Similarly to cleft lip, cleft palate also means that part of the mouth didn’t fully form together during pregnancy. However instead of affecting the lip, cleft palate means the space formed when the sides did not connect together is on the inside roof of the mouth. It’s possible for someone to have both cleft palate and cleft lip.

How Common is Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) a little over 4,400 babies are born with a cleft lip and 2,600 babies are born with a cleft palate every year.

What Causes Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate?

Unfortunately, many times the cause of cleft lip or cleft palate is unknown. However, researchers believe genetics play a role, and things that the mother does during pregnancy may also raise the risk. In fact, studies conducted by the CDC show strong evidence that smoking during pregnancy, moms with diabetes, and taking certain epilepsy medications may all put babies at greater risk for developing cleft lip or cleft palate.

Treatment Options

Cleft lip and cleft palate treatment varies from case to case depending on a variety of factors. Surgery may be an option, but it’s typically recommended prior to baby’s first birthday for a cleft lip and no later than 18 months for a cleft palate. Additionally, some kids may need more surgeries as the continue to grow.  

For more information on cleft lip, cleft palate, or other orofacial clefts, we encourage you to talk to your Long Island pediatric dentist or read articles published by the American Dental Association or the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.   

Posted by & filed under General Dentistry, Health, Oral Care, Prevention.

two young girls swimmingIt’s summertime, and that probably means you and your family are spending more time outside playing and even cooling off in the pool. At our pediatric dental office in Long Island, we know just how fun taking dip in a cool swimming pool can be, not to mention it’s great exercise for kids and adults alike. However, it may surprise you to hear that pool water may be damaging your family’s tooth enamel.

What’s the Purpose of Chlorine?

Chlorine is an antimicrobial agent added to most public pools and many backyard ones, too. Its purpose is to kill any harmful bacteria that may lurking around in the water so a summer swim doesn’t make you sick. Chlorine may also be added to a public water supply for the same reason, just in much lower doses than a swimming pool.

Why is Chlorine a Dental Concern?

Even though most pool water is tested regularly to stay within the recommended chlorine levels, many times there are pools that have too much of the stuff. This means that as you and your kids are splashing around having a blast, droplets of this chlorine-packed H²0 are getting in your mouths. While chlorine in small amounts isn’t dangerous to teeth, too much of it can be cause for concern.

Low pH Levels

Too much chlorine typically also means a low pH level, which is the first concern. A low pH level means the water is more on the acidic side, and just like acidic foods, acidic water can weaken tooth enamel, leaving teeth at risk for damage and decay. Weak enamel may also increase tooth sensitivity and lead to tooth discoloration.

Swimmer’s Calculus

The second concern is related to the chlorine itself. As teeth are continuously exposed to highly chlorinated water they may begin to take on a brown appearance. Since this condition is most commonly found in competitive swimmers it’s earned the name “Swimmer’s calculus,” but it can affect anyone who spends a lot of time in the pool.

How to Protect Teeth Against Chlorine

Even though pools with too much chlorine content can negatively affect oral health, it doesn’t mean your family can’t enjoy a swim whenever they want. However, there are ways to reduce the risk of chlorine-caused discoloration including:

  • Keeping Mouths Closed
  • Brushing After Swimming
  • Keeping the pH Between 7.2 and 7.8

The team at our Long Island pediatric dental office is here to help keep your little one’s smile healthy all year long. Make sure she’s visiting us twice a year to keep tooth enamel strong and teeth protected.