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.

Posted by & filed under Oral Care, Sedation Dentistry.

young boy in dental chairAt our pediatric dental office in Long Island we take our patients’ comfort very seriously and are dedicated to keeping them calm and relaxed at every appointment. However, there are times when the noise of the drill is scary (we get it!), treatment is too long for little ones to sit so still, or our special needs patients are uncomfortable with the sensations and atmosphere of a dental office. When these situations arise sedation dentistry may be recommended.

Defining Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is a common treatment that uses medication to reduce anxiety and help patients relax. It may be appropriate for kids who are afraid of the dentist or have a need for long, complex treatment. Sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” even though sedation dentistry doesn’t require the patient to actually be asleep. In fact, depending on the type of sedation, patients are often awake.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

  • Oral Sedation

Achieving a calm, relaxed state with a Long Island pediatric dentist may be as easy as taking a pill prior to the appointment. This type of sedation is referred to as minimal oral sedation and typically allows patients to stay awake and responsive, just a little bit drowsy. Moderate oral sedation is also an option. Still achieved by taking a quick pill, moderate sedation usually has a higher dose of the medicine. Patients tend to be so relaxed they may even fall asleep for a short time.  

  • Nitrous Oxide

More commonly referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is another form of sedation dentistry that only has a very short effect on patients. Nitrous oxide is administered in the dental office through a mask and simply relaxes the mind and body. After treatment, patients will be given oxygen to help remove the nitrous oxide quickly without lingering side effects.

  • Intravenous Sedation (IV Sedation)

IV sedation is perhaps the deepest level of sedation that’s often controlled by an anesthesiologist. Medication is delivered through a needle directly into a vein. This allows the medicine to take effect very quickly. Following treatment, patients may experience nausea, dizziness, or sleepiness for up to 24 hours.  

Safety

The main goal of sedation dentistry is to keep patients comfortable and, most importantly, safe while they get the treatment they need to keep them healthy. Dental offices that offer sedation dentistry have teams who are extensively trained in sedation, follow strict safety precautions, and will monitor your child throughout treatment.

If your child has a fear of the dentist or you think he may benefit from some form of sedation dentistry, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our Long Island pediatric dental office. At this visit we will discuss all of the options available to you and recommend the best solution based on your child’s individual needs.  

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

beautiful girl in spring fieldFluoride has been used in the prevention of tooth decay and cavities since it was first introduced into public water supplies in 1945. But there are some research studies that suggest that fluoride isn’t safe for kids. At our pediatric dental office in Long Island, we’d like to help debunk that theory and explain the benefits of fluoride and why it’s important.

What is Fluoride and What Does it Do?

Before we go any farther, we should first take a close look at what exactly fluoride is and how it works. It’s important to note that fluoride is a mineral that’s naturally found throughout nature and even in some foods and water. But how does it help prevent tooth decay? Essentially, fluoride makes it more difficult for acids released by bacteria in the mouth to wear away tooth enamel. When tooth enamel erodes, it leaves teeth exposed to the acids and bacteria and increases the likelihood for cavities. By adding fluoride into the mix, the teeth are protected. In fact, toothpastes that have fluoride reduce cavities in kids by 30% and water sources that incorporate fluoridation lower cavity rates by up to 40%!

When Should Kids First Get Fluoride?

Fluoride is most important for growing smiles. Your pediatric dentist in Long Island recommends that infants and children be exposed to fluoride from 6 months of age until about 16 years. This may mean changing to a toothpaste that includes fluoride or receiving fluoride treatments at bi-annual dental visits. However, the benefits of fluoride don’t go away once someone hits their 16th birthday. In fact, fluoride can be beneficial for adults too. Adults should also receive some sort of fluoride treatment occasionally in order to keep fighting tooth decay. Fluoride treatments may also be recommended to help combat tooth sensitivity.  

How Much Fluoride is Too Much?

Fluoride is safe and beneficial to dental health, but there is such a thing as too much. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), kids under 8 years old should not use products containing fluoride if the public water supply in their hometown has more than 2 mg/L of fluoride. The biggest risk to kids of being exposed to too much fluoride is something called dental fluorosis, or a staining and pitting of tooth enamel.

Fluoride should be used only as directed or prescribed and intake should be monitored. Here are a few tips to help you monitor the use of fluoride products in your kids:

  • Keep fluoride supplements out of the reach of children
  • Avoid flavored toothpastes to discourage swallowing of the paste
  • Use only a pea-size amount of toothpaste with fluoride in it

If you have any concerns or questions about how dental fluoride can help protect your little one’s smile from damaging decay and cavities, we welcome you to call our Long Island pediatric dental office to schedule an appointment with us today.

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

girl with allergiesIf your child gets a stuffy nose when the pollen count is high, every time he’s around a cat, or has an even worse reaction to certain foods, it’s likely he’s suffering from an allergic reaction. The typical symptoms of allergies include itchy eyes, a stuffed up nose, or difficulty breathing. But did you know that allergies can also affect dental health? Our pediatric dental office in Long Island takes a closer look in this week’s blog…

Crooked Teeth Caused by Allergies?

We already know that it’s common for kids with allergies to suffer from itchy, watery eyes and leaky, stuffy noses. These symptoms are a result of the body making too much mucus. And too much of this thick, slimy stuff can block up airways, making it difficult to breathe out of the nose. As a natural response, the body switches to breathing out of the mouth, also known appropriately as mouth breathing. That’s where the problems begin.

When kids habitually have to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses, it can actually affect how their teeth develop. Children who suffer from allergies also tend to suffer from crooked teeth which may require braces or other orthodontic treatment. But the problems associated with chronic mouth breathing doesn’t stop there. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry reports that mouth breathing may also lead to a gummy smile, problems with facial development, even with the overall health of your mouth.

Mouth Breathing & Proper Facial Development

When kids need to breathe out of their mouths often, it may actually impact facial development. Mouth breathing requires our posture to change in order to keep the airway open. In a kid, if mouth breathing and this change in posture is left untreated, it can cause the face to become long and narrow, the nose flat, the upper lip short, and the lower lip a bit pouty. Additionally, it could create some other concerning oral health concerns.

More on Mouth Breathing

Besides developmental concerns, mouth breathing can lead to a whole host of other dental issues including dry mouth. While that may not seem like such a big deal, it is worrisome to your pediatric dentist in Long Island. Mouth breathing can quickly decrease saliva production which leaves teeth at risk for cavities and bad breath. Dry mouth is also one of the causes of gum disease, a dangerous oral health problem that can create health issues throughout the body.

How you Can Help

If your child has allergies that affect his ability to breathe properly there are things you can do to help him, his oral health, and his overall health. Start by speaking with his pediatrician and the team at our Long Island pediatric dental office. As part of his healthcare team, we will be happy to recommend some ways to get allergy relief so he can start breathing easier while keeping his smile protected.

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

young girl with special needsAt our pediatric dental office in Long Island, we’re dedicated to taking care of all of our community’s smallest smiles. Yet we understand that coming to the dentist can be a bit scary for kids. And if your child has special needs, a dental appointment can be terrifying. As a parent, you not only want to make sure your child sees a dentist that will keep her smile healthy, you also want to ensure the dentist and dental team has the ability to treat your child the way she deserves. That makes finding the best pediatric dentist for your special needs child an important endeavor. We’re here to help.

A Look at Special Needs Dentistry

Special needs dentistry is a very important type of dental care that revolves around getting children with special health care needs (SHCN) appropriate care. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) classifies special health care needs any “limiting condition that requires medical management, health care intervention, and/or use of specialized services or programs.” These conditions can take on a variety of forms including:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Developmental
  • Cognitive
  • Sensory/Mental Impairment

Choosing a Special Needs Dentist in Long Island

Children with any special health care needs should visit a dentist at least twice a year to protect their oral health. To get the best possible care in a comforting and understanding environment, you should look for a dentist that has additional training and experience working with kids with advanced needs.

Most pediatric dentists need this training in order to be a true pediatric dentist. In fact, they take two years or more of additional education beyond dental school alone. During this time, pediatric dentists learn the difference between treating adults and children, including extensive training in behavior management and sedation in order to help get children the care they need. Often this also includes how to treat those with special needs appropriately and thoroughly.

Ideally your child will see a dentist that has advanced education and experience on working with special needs children. You should look for a dentist that specifically says they’re trained to treat SHCN patients. Most importantly, you should choose one who makes your child feel as comfortable as possible, and who makes you comfortable too.

At our Long Island pediatric dental office, we’re here to take care of little smiles of all kinds, including our most special patients. If you’re looking for a dentist who can help your child with special needs get and keep a healthy mouth, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Posted by & filed under Oral Care, Prevention.

girls playing field hockeyAs the weather gets warmer and kids are spending more time outside, perhaps participating in some fun spring sports, we’re happy to see them out of the house doing something active. But it’s not all fun and games when their little smiles and angelic faces are at risk for injuries. That’s one reason our Long Island pediatric dental office chooses to do our part to promote National Facial Protection Month.

About National Facial Protection Month

Sponsored by the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Orthodontists, National Facial Protection Month is an awareness campaign that strives to educate parents and children on the importance of using proper protection to help prevent injuries while participating in sports. And based on the data you’re about to see, it’s an important cause that we can surely get behind.  

The Data on Sports Injuries

According to an article by Johns Hopkins, more than 3.5 million kids under the age of 15 are hurt every year participating in a sport or similar recreational activities. Of those, over 770,000 kids are hurt bad enough to require a trip to the emergency room. Many of these injuries are sprains and strains, but there’s still a large amount that result in a facial or head injury.

When on the playing field or court, anything can happen. Two kids can collide, an ankle can roll, a knee can get twisted, or a mouth can connect with an elbow. In fact, 39% of all children’s sports dental injuries are caused by a direct hit with a ball or another player, according to The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Mouthguards can help lower this number and keep your child protected.

The Importance of Mouthguards

Mouthguards are designed to, quite obviously, guard and protect the teeth and mouth. A mouthguard can prevent teeth from being chipped, broken, or knocked out. But properly fitted mouthguards can even protect the bone and tissues around the teeth and jaw, and lower the chance of concussions. But not all mouthguards are equally effective.

Store-Bought vs. Custom-Made Mouthguards

It may be more convenient to head on over to your local sporting goods store and pick up a packaged mouthguard. Following a quick dip in some boiling water and a sturdy bite by your child, you have a molded mouthguard. While that’s better than nothing, there’s a noticeable difference in the quality between these boil-and-bite mouthguards and a custom-made one from your pediatric dentist in Long Island.

Custom mouthguards are specifically molded to fit every contour of your child’s teeth and provide the ultimate in protection. They’re also constructed to ensure extended comfort. This means less time out of the mouth and more time in the mouth where they belong.

If your little one is gearing up to play any sort of sport this spring, schedule an appointment at our pediatric dental office in Long Island. We’re here to keep their smiles healthy, and part of keeping them healthy is keeping them protected. Don’t wait for an accident to occur, call us today.

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

foods with calciumCalcium is most commonly noted as being a crucial mineral for strong bone development. However, at our pediatric dental office in Long Island we also know that calcium is an essential part of building strong and healthy teeth. But just how much calcium does your growing child need?

The Importance of Calcium in Kids

Before we dive into how much calcium your child needs, let’s take a quick look at why a steady intake of it is important. Our bodies need calcium in order to function properly, and our systems will pull what they need out of what we have in our bones. In fact, the calcium found in bones is repeatedly removed, and it needs to be replaced. This is where eating a diet high in calcium helps replenish what’s lost. This is particularly important in young children when bones are developing and growing.

Calcium Doesn’t Stand Alone

We wouldn’t be giving you great advice if we didn’t tell you that a solid calcium intake is only half the battle. In order for the calcium to be absorbed and aid in bone development, it needs vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, meaning your body relies on it to function. Make sure your child isn’t only eating a diet rich in calcium, but also vitamin D. Some foods that can help increase levels of vitamin D include:

  • Dairy products
  • Egg Yolks
  • Fish such as salmon and herring

How Much Calcium is Enough?

The appropriate amount of calcium varies depending on age and gender. Here are the recommended daily doses according to the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB).

  • 0-6 months = 200 mg
  • 7-12 months = 260 mg
  • 1-3 years = 700 mg
  • 4-8 years = 1,000 mg
  • 9-18 years = 1,300 mg
  • 19-50 years = 1,000 mg
  • 51-70 years = 1,000 mg for males, 1,000 mg for females
  • 71+ years = 1,200 mg

Foods High in Calcium

When looking for calcium-rich foods, your Long Island pediatric dentist wants you to consider going outside of the dairy aisle. There are plenty of non-dairy foods that pack a mean calcium punch including:

  • Sardines
  • Soymilk
  • Orange juice
  • Calcium-fortified cereal

Remember, besides eating a diet high in calcium, it’s also important to eat a variety of food groups at every meal.

At our Long Island pediatric dental office, we’re in the business of taking care of your child’s growing smile. One way to ensure a lifetime of strong, beautiful teeth is to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D and calcium. And of course, we always recommend proper brushing and regular dental visits.

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

Easter bunny cakeAs we head into another month with a holiday that’s typically celebrated with loads of candy, our pediatric dental office in Long Island wants to remind our patients that while you don’t need to totally avoid packing Easter baskets with sweet treats, you should choose your candy wisely. This Easter, try to avoid these top three worst candies, and swap them out for some of the healthier alternatives…

The Terrible Three

It’s often thought that dentists have a sour attitude when it comes to sweets. The truth is, we just really care about our patients’ smiles, and since sugar is one the main causes of decay and cavities, we try to recommend enjoying sweet treats in moderation. We also encourage avoiding candy that fall into the three categories below.

  • Sticky & Gooey – Sticky candy is particularly dangerous because it tends to get stuck in teeth’s tiny nooks and crannies. This makes it really hard to reach while brushing and flossing. The longer the goo sticks around, the longer the teeth are exposed to the sugar and the more likely it is that cavities will follow. Avoid caramels, gummies, and taffy.
  • Sweets and Sours – Not all damaging candy is super sweet. In fact, the pucker-inducing sour candy can be just as risky. These sweet and sour snacks contain both sugar and acid so not only do you have the traditional risks of sugar, you also have to worry about the acid. Acid causes enamel erosion which makes it easy for bacteria to wiggle in and create cavities.
  • Hard as a Rock – Hard sweets like lollipops or small jawbreakers take awhile to eat, leaving teeth exposed to sugar for a long time. The longer it’s there, the more chance there is for decay and cavities. What’s more is that if its bit into too soon, the tough texture of the candy can even cause tooth damage such as chips and broken teeth.

Better Alternatives

As we mentioned before, we’re not here to put a damper on anyone’s holiday or to recommend that you swear off candy altogether. But when it comes to selecting more tooth-friendly alternatives, there are plenty of things to choose from including:

  • Hollow Dark Chocolates – Everyone can still get a chocolate fix this Easter, but it’d be wiser to snack on dark chocolate as opposed to milk. Recent studies show a potential strong correlation between dark chocolate its ability to ward off decay, cavities, and problem causing plaque. Select a hollow bunny instead of a solid mold and you’ll even cut calories and lower your exposure to sugar even more.
  • Sugar-Free Snacks – Believe it or not, there are a lot of great sugar-free candies that don’t taste like they’re sans sugar. Do a bit of research for no or low sugar options that won’t only please your child, but also his mouth.  

Choosing better sweets for your smile can make for great checkups and great oral health. Of course, proper brushing and flossing and regular visits to your pediatric dentist in Long Island are also crucial for healthy, growing smiles and bodies.

If it’s time for your child’s checkup and you’re looking for a dental team that puts him first, give our Long Island pediatric dental office a call.

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

baby with toothbrushEach and every February, our pediatric dental office in Long Island joins the American Dental Association (ADA) in celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long dedication to children’s oral health strives to promote the importance of proper brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits for strong and healthy growing smiles. This year, learn how you can get involved to make a difference in your child’s dental health.

Brush Together

Each morning and every night, join your child at the sink and brush your teeth together. This is a great way to ensure she’s brushing properly and long enough. It’ll also help to keep you on a good brushing schedule. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles at a 45 degree angle to gently scrub every side of each tooth and up under the gums.

Teach the Proper Way to Floss

When your little one starts to get a mouth full of teeth, it’s a good time to start teaching her the importance of flossing and the right way to do it. Follow the steps below to make sure you’re both flossing correctly:

  • Gently wind a piece of floss around each pointer finger and pinch it between the thumbs.
  • Slowly and carefully wiggle the floss in-between two teeth.
  • Curve the floss into a ‘C’ shape around the tooth and glide it up and down the sides. Don’t forget to get under the gumline too.
  • Unravel the floss for a new, clean section as you move from tooth to tooth.

Remember to make flossing a daily habit to get the best clean.

Do Some Fun Activities

Take your oral health lessons away from the sink and join your child in doing some fun, educational activities. There are tons of resources available to you for free on the ADA’s website. Grab some crayons and go to town coloring a fridge-worthy masterpiece, connect the dots to reveal a cute hidden character, or work through a crossword puzzle together. Making oral health care fun and enjoyable is a great way to get your child interested in taking care of her teeth.

See Your Pediatric Dentist

The most important thing you can do as a parent to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles for your child is to take her to see a pediatric dentist in Long Island at least twice a year. These visits help diagnose any potential problems early while they’re still easy to treat. Regular appointments are also crucial in making sure your child gets the fluoride treatments or sealants she needs to protect her pearly whites from cavities.

Our Long Island pediatric dental office recommends scheduling your child’s first dentist appointment when she gets her first tooth or no later than her first birthday. If she already has a few teeth but hasn’t seen a dentist yet, we welcome you to give us a call. We’ll be happy to care for her in our calm and comforting dental office that’s designed just for kids.