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.

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

valentine's candyValentine’s Day is a celebration packed with red hearts, sweet notes, and yummy treats. It’s a fun day for kids, opening up all their valentines and nibbling on snacks. But like most holiday treats, some popular Valentine’s Day foods aren’t so great for teeth. This year, instead of handing out the sugar-packed candy hearts, consider some of your Long Island pediatric dentist’s top tooth-friendly treats.

Dark Chocolate

Just because we’re a Long Island pediatric dental office doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good piece of chocolate. We just happen to be bigger fans of dark chocolate than milk or white. Dark chocolates are full of antioxidants that can help keep bacteria levels in the mouth low, reducing the risk of cavities.

Cheese & Crackers

Sometimes a non-sugary snack is well-received to break up the amount of sweet flavors that often monopolize Valentine’s Day. Some cheese cubes or slices and whole grain crackers can do just that. Not to mention, certain cheeses are really great for teeth. Chew on some cheddar or bring on the brie to help protect teeth from decay.

Fruit

Whether you choose apple slices or strawberries cut to look like hearts, fruit is a healthy choice that still packs a sweet punch. Consider a fruit kabob or dunk full strawberries into some chocolate for extra dose of sweetness.

Sugar-Free Candy

There are plenty of sugar-free candy options out there that still give you the satisfaction of eating candy without putting your teeth at risk for decay. The important thing to remember is that just because the label says ‘sugar free’ doesn’t mean it’s not just as tasty.

What to Avoid

To make a oral health conscious choice on your Valentine’s Day treats, you also need to know what to avoid. The following snacks are the worst for teeth:

  • Anything sticky or chewy
  • Candies that are nothing but loose sugar
  • Lollipops
  • Super hard candies

Avoiding foods that can be bad for your smile (or at least enjoying them in moderation) will help you keep cavities away. But it’s still important to brush and floss every day and maintain visits to your pediatric dentist in Long Island twice a year. If it’s time for your next visit, give us a call today.

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

child with toothacheSeeing a pediatric dentist regularly is important to the health of your child’s smile. But in-between visits things can happen that may require a visit sooner rather than later. At our Long Island pediatric dental office, we want to encourage all parents to schedule an appointment as soon as possible if their child is experiencing any of the following symptoms.

He’s Avoiding His Favorite Hot or Cold Treats

Every child loves digging into a bowl of cold ice cream or sipping a steaming cup of hot chocolate. But if they start to avoid some of these hot or cold snacks, they may be suffering from tooth sensitivity. Occasionally this sensitivity may go away on it’s own. Other times, it may be an early sign of tooth decay. It’s best to have your trusted pediatric dentist check it out.

A Playground Fall Caused a Loose Tooth

Trauma to children’s teeth happen often. And whether it’s caused by a playground accident or sports injury, it’s important to get the tooth looked at by a dentist. Baby teeth hold the space for permanent adult teeth, aid in proper speech development, and help properly chew food. If one is lost before it’s ready, it could lead to other oral health concerns.

You See White Spots on Teeth

White spots are usually either an early sign of decay or a symptom of too much fluoride (referred to as fluorosis). If the spots are a sign of decay, they will eventually turn yellow or brown as the decay progresses. However, if caught and treated in the early stages the decay can actually be reversed. Your pediatric dentist can help determine the cause of these white spots and the best way to treat them.

He Complains of Painful Gums…

If your little one mentions sore or bloody gums after brushing he may be showing initial signs of gingivitis. Like most other dental concerns, gingivitis is treatable if caught early. If left alone, gingivitis can progress into periodontal disease (gum disease). The best way to avoid gingivitis and the more serious gum disease is to ensure your child is brushing properly twice a day.

… or Painful Teeth

Toothaches are one of the most common dental problems that affects children and adults alike. However, they’re not to be taken lightly. A toothache is a sign that something isn’t right. Usually that something is a cavity, but it’s still best to see a dentist as soon as you notice the pain and discomfort.

Maintaining your child’s appointments at our pediatric dental office in Long Island can go a long way in keeping any potential problems at bay. After all, preventing any issues in the first place is ideal. But if life gets in the way and your child needs to see a dentist in between regular visits, call to schedule an appointment today.

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

teen girl brushes her teethAs your child enters her teen years, she may begin to consider whitening her smile using over-the-counter tooth whitening strips. But as her parent, you’re unsure if smile whitening is safe for her growing grin. Our pediatric dental office in Long Island is here to provide you some insight on whitening strips and some risks of using them.

Let’s Look at the Research

As the popularity of over-the-counter white strips increases and buying them becomes easier, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) began conducting research on the safety of children and teens using whitening strips. Below we’ve outlined some of the main results found as part of these studies.

Usability

Although whitening strips come with instructions, the AAPD’s research found a high user error when kids or teens tried using the product on their own. While this may seem like no big deal, if used incorrectly, teens expose themselves to risks of leaving the strips on for too long or even swallowing the product.

Hydrogen Peroxide Content

The active ingredient in whitening strips is hydrogen peroxide. While the amount of hydrogen peroxide differs from product to product, some strips can contain as much as 13 percent. This isn’t usually a problem for adults, but the higher the hydrogen peroxide content, the more risks there are to kids and teens.

Sensitivity

As you may know a common side effect of using whitening strips is increased tooth sensitivity. This side effect isn’t limited to just teens or children either as many adults report sensitivity after using them. While it’s not clear if teens are at greater risk for more sensitivity than adults, it’s still a concern.  

So, Are Whitening Strips Safe for Teens?

According to the AAPD and your pediatric dentist in Long Island, more research is needed to truly take a position on whether whitening strips are safe for kids or teens. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean your child can’t do anything to brighten her smile.

Alternatives to Smile Whitening Strips

There are some surprisingly easy ways that help get, and keep, teeth nice and white:

  • Make sure your teen is brushing her teeth twice a day for two minutes each time
  • Avoid foods known to stain smiles including soda, coffee, berries, and pasta sauce
  • Have her see the dentist twice a year

The team at our Long Island pediatric dental office is committed to your child’s oral health and is here to get her a smile that’s not only strong and healthy, but also one that makes her feel confident. We welcome her (and you!) to talk with us about any concerns she may have about her smile so we can work together to resolve them.