Another 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.
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.
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.
As 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.
September 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
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:
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.
At 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:
- Heart disease
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!
August 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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
Every 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.
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.
It’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.
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.
At 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
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.
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.
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.
Fluoride 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.