Tag Archives: healthy teeth

Tricks and Treats to Keep Your Family Healthy This Halloween

halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, many households find themselves filled with mini bags of M&Ms and fun-sized candy bars scattered throughout the cupboards. Part of being a kid is trick-or-treating and trading candy for the best loot. Kids should always be kids and enjoy dressing up and collecting bags filled with chocolate, lollipops, and other sugary treats. This does not mean that they need to gorge themselves on candy, which will only lead to stomach aches and sugar crashes—a situation more frightening than a haunted house! Try these tips for keeping meals healthy and kids happy.

1. Keep a balanced perspective. To support healthy habits, set rules before Halloween treats flood your house about how much candy can be eaten on any given day. Try one fun-sized candy bar in lunch boxes balanced with their usual healthy sandwich and fruit. Decide ahead of time (with your kids) that 1 regular candy bar is equivalent to 2-3 fun sized bars and share after dinner. By keeping the usual healthy foods in your kids’ diet, the occasional shared indulgence can be part of that overall healthy lifestyle.

2. Freeze the leftovers. Have kids help organize candy by type and preference. After setting aside 15 fun-sized pieces to be eaten over the next week or two, put the rest away in the freezer to be pulled out for later occasions. It will take some of the temptation and immediacy away.

3. Mix it into healthy snacks. Consider taking extra M&M packs or other mini pieces and mix them in with dried fruit and nuts to pack as an after-school trail mix snack.

4. Give it to others. Encourage kids to make care packages for grandparents or other relatives, “trick or treat” it back to the doorman, or bring it to school for a favorite teacher. Nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and other charities also accept candy donations after Halloween. Giving candy back will help to encourage sharing, while keeping excess candy out of the house.

Remember, many kids have various food allergies that may affect their trick-or-treating experience. The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization has been working to promote the Teal Pumpkin Project, which encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and support all kids participating in Halloween, while avoiding risk of allergic reaction. FARE asks participants to provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters, place a teal pumpkin in front of your home or apartment door to indicate that you have non-food treats available, and consider displaying signs or posters from FARE to explain the meaning of the teal pumpkin and encourage others to consider joining in! For more information about the project, visit http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project/faqs.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Bridget Murphy, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. 

The Truth About Dental X-Rays

Pediatric dentist explaining to young patient the x-ray

Dr. Julie Cernigliaro of NYC’s Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry is back with another important post about dental health! In this post, she’ll focus on dental x-rays and why they’re important for your kids.

Many parent express concern about taking kids’ dental x-rays (or radiographs); however, they are valuable in providing information about a patient’s oral health. This includes diagnosing early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections, or some types of tumors in infants, children, and adults. Many dental problems simply cannot be diagnosed based on a visual exam alone.

This does not mean that children need x-rays taken at every visit. Your pediatric dentist will determine when it is advisable to take x-rays. Typically, as long as a child will cooperate and his or her back teeth touch together, x-rays will be taken. If x-rays are not taken, it is impossible to diagnose cavities in between the back teeth until it grows—and if a cavity grows, so does the potential for it to get closer to the nerve and to cause significant pain and infection. Typically children get upper and lower front x-rays to rule out cavities, to make sure the permanent teeth are developing normally, and to make sure there are no extra or missing teeth. Two back x-rays or bite wings are also taken to determine if there are any cavities between the back teeth. Unless a problem is detected, the x-rays are usually repeated once a year.

Every day, we are exposed to radiation in our environment—this constant exposure is called natural background radiation. While there is no conclusive evidence that cancer is caused by dental x-rays, every precaution is taken to minimize radiation exposure. According to a study conducted by Medscape:

“The amount of radiation received from dental radiography is so low that it is highly unlikely that it results in a measurable risk. Dental radiographs provide a very useful tool in the dentist’s diagnostic armamentarium. Although radiograph benefits outweigh radiation risk, a reasonable and prudent dentist should be cognizant of such a risk. It is the dentist’s responsibility to consider carefully and justify every radiograph and to employ the means and procedures to optimize radiographic imaging to gain maximum diagnostic information with the minimum radiation.”

Most pediatric dentists use digital imaging that significantly lowers the exposure. The settings on the x-ray device are adjusted depending upon the child’s size and a lead apron with a thyroid collar is used for additional protection. Most often children need significantly less x-rays to diagnose disease than adults. Your pediatric dentist will determine the minimum amount of x-rays needed to make a diagnosis and will always weigh the risk verses benefit before deciding to take an x-ray.

Dr. Julie Cernigliaro is a board certified pediatric dentist at Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry in NYC. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2001, where she received the community service and pediatric dental health award. She continued her studies, completing her pediatric dental residency at Northwestern’s Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago in 2003.

Currently she is an associate director of the Pediatric Dental Residency Program at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She became a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2006 and has given both national and international presentations on Pediatric Dentistry.

Simple Tips for Preventing Cavities in Kids

Happy kid brushing teeth

Dr. Julie Cernigliaro of NYC’s Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry is back with another important post about dental health! In this post, she’ll focus on ways to prevent cavities.

Baby teeth are at risk for getting cavities as soon as they come into the mouth. It is important that by the time your child is 12 months old, you’ve established a “dental home”, or a place where you and your child can begin building a foundation for a healthy future. This is why it’s important to find a pediatric dentist you trust and can build a relationship with.

Once teeth come in they are subjected to constant insult due to food and drink. The more frequently food is subjected to food insult and the longer food substances stay on the teeth, the more healthy enamel will begin to break down—eventually leading to a cavity. If you wait too long to treat a cavity, it can get larger and possibly lead to infection and pain.

So what are some important tips for preventing cavities in kids?

Good health. Although genetics play a part, diet and hygiene are very important in the prevention of cavities. The sooner you incorporate good nutrition and hygiene into your child’s routine, the better it is for oral and overall health. Many foods and drinks—including natural products—can cause cavities.

Don’t share. Cavities are an infectious disease with harmful bacteria that can be transmitted from person to person. To decrease transmission potential, it is important not to put things like pacifiers and utensils in your mouth and then put them in your baby’s mouth.

Breastfeed and brush. For those mothers who breastfeed, breast milk has been proven to be healthy for your child, and if breast milk is the only source of nutrition there is no proven link to an increased risk of cavities. However, as soon as other food substances are introduced (or after 12 months of age) if you breastfeed on demand more than seven times a day without cleaning your child’s teeth, he or she is at an increased risk for cavities.

No teeth? Clean anyway. Wipe your child s gums with a soft clean wet washcloth or infant toothbrush to ensure that the first teeth come into a clean environment.

Smart snacking. While milk is healthy for kids, it has natural sugars so should be consumed in limited quantities. Juice should also be limited to no more than four to six ounces a day from a cup (not a bottle or sippy cup). Snacking should also be kept to a minimum—especially sticky foods like dried fruits, raisins, and gummy snacks that stick to the grooves of the teeth. Lollipops are the worst offenders—children suck on them and then bite into them so it’s double the trouble! Recommended sweet treats (on occasion of course!) are foods like chocolate and ice cream which melt, don’t stick to teeth, and are cleared out of the mouth quickly.

How can I take care of my child’s teeth?

A small smear layer of fluoride toothpaste should be placed on the toothbrush and used to clean the teeth until the child learns to spit it out. Once the child can spit, a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used. Children cannot effectively brush their teeth on their own until they are around seven years old, so a parent or caregiver should be brushing with them until then. Floss should be incorporated as soon as the teeth touch.

What about children taking medications or with special needs?

Medications such as nebulizers or inhalers can dry out the mouth and increase the risk of getting cavities. Children using them should drink water or clean out the mouth after each treatment.

Many diet supplements have high sugar content, so any children taking them should make sure to brush and/or drink water on a regular basis.

If your child has reflux or vomits or spits up more than average, keep them hydrated and rinse out their mouths as much as possible to prevent stomach acid from eroding the teeth.

If your child has any other special needs that make it difficult to brush their teeth there are specialized tooth brushes and tools to help—just ask your pediatric dentist.

About Dr. Julie Cernigliaro

Dr. Julie Cernigliaro is a board certified pediatric dentist at Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry in NYC. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2001, where she received the community service and pediatric dental health award. She continued her studies, completing her pediatric dental residency at Northwestern’s Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago in 2003.

Currently she is an associate director of the Pediatric Dental Residency Program at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She became a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2006 and has given both national and international presentations on Pediatric Dentistry.

What Happens at Your Child’s First Pediatric Dental Visit (and Other Important Facts)

Brushing teethDr. Julie Cernigliaro of NYC’s Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry is back with another important post about dental health! In this post, she’ll focus on what exactly happens at the age one pediatric dental visit.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that the child’s first visit be at age one,or six months after the eruption of your child’s first tooth. Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that dental cavities are the most prevalent infectious disease in our nations’ children, it is important to introduce dental care early, to prevent early issues and emphasize its importance. Here are a few more facts about cavities:

  • ŸMore than forty percent of children have a cavity by the time they reach kindergarten!
  • Cavities in primary teeth can affect children’s growth, result in significant pain and potentially life-threatening infection, and diminish overall quality of life and many aspects of growth and development. They also can cause significant pain and discomfort and may even contribute to problems in school.
  • ŸCavities are an infectious disease and can be transmitted from person to person or from parent to child.

An early visit will help create a lifelong positive relationship with his/her dentist and a lifetime of healthy smiles. The purpose of the first visit is to evaluate the oral health of the child. Usually the pediatric dentist will ask questions about the child’s medical and dental history and review diet and hygiene. At this visit any early concerns are addressed and parents are informed about harmful habits, diet, or other considerations for good oral hygiene. Common concerns at this visit are how to care for infant teeth, what to expect when teeth come in, how to reduce discomfort during teething, and when and how to stop the bottle or pacifier.

After answering all of parents’ questions the child is evaluated. The pediatric dentist will introduce dental tools in the least threatening way as possible, which is most commonly done by the “tell, show, do” technique. This means the dentist will tell the child what they are going to do and then show them by looking at the parents teeth or demonstrate on the child’s fingers so they know how it will feel. Once the child seems comfortable, the dentist will preform the exam and cleaning and possibly a fluoride treatment.

Sometimes it is difficult for children under two years old to sit on their own or open their mouth and allow the dentist to brush. In these cases the pediatric dentist may do what is called a lap-to-lap exam, where the child sits on a parent’s lap and lies back into the dentist’s lap. This allows for a quick yet thorough exam and helps the dentist detect any potential problems. After the evaluation, the pediatric dentist will devise an individual plan to help decrease harmful habits. If there are any problems identified, they will be addressed and a treatment plan formulated.

The first visit may be brief based on the comfort level of your child. Pediatric dentists are trained to detect possible problems quickly and efficiently in order to keep your child as comfortable as possible. If your child has an older sibling, it may be helpful to bring him or her to the sibling’s appointment to see up close what to expect.

If no problems are detected, the child will come back in six months for a follow up visit. ​If problems are detected a plan will be formulated that will address these problems and change harmful habits. Potential problems that are identified early are typically easier to manage with minimal discomfort to the child.

About Dr. Julie Cernigliaro

Dr. Julie Cernigliaro is a board certified pediatric dentist at Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry in NYC. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2001, where she received the community service and pediatric dental health award. She continued her studies, completing her pediatric dental residency at Northwestern’s Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago in 2003.

Currently she is an associate director of the Pediatric Dental Residency Program at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She became a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2006 and has given both national and international presentations on Pediatric Dentistry.

Sources:

  1. US Dept of Health and Human Services. Oral health in America. A report of the surgeon General. Rockville ,Md US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health;2000.
  2. Pierce KM, Rozier RG, Vann WF Jr. Accuracy of pediatric primary care providers’ screening and referral for early childhood caries.
  3. Majewski RF. Dental caries in adolescents associated with caffeinated carbonated beverages. Pediatric Dental   2001:23;
  4. American Academy of Pediatric Denistry. Guideline on periodicity of examination, preventive dental services, anticipatory guidance, and oral treatment for children. Pediatric Dental 2009;31(special issue):118-25

 

Important Tips for Keeping Little Teeth Healthy

Close up portrait of cute girl brushing teeth.Dr. Julie Cernigliaro of Happy Smile pediatric dentistry practice is here to focus on optimal oral health for 2015! Read on as she gives important tips for keeping little teeth healthy.

Children are at risk for cavities as soon as their teeth come in. Because of this fact, it’s important that parents establish a “dental home”—a place where parents can start building a foundation for a healthy dental future by the time a child is 12 months of age. First, it is important to find a pediatric dentist you trust and start building a good relationship.

Once teeth come in they are subjected to constant insult due to food and drink. The frequency of food as well as the longer food substances stay on the teeth begin to break down healthy enamel and eventually lead to a cavity. The longer you wait to treat a cavity it can get larger and lead to possible infection and pain.

So if my child gets a cavity, what can I do?
Although genetics play a part, diet and hygiene are very important for the prevention of cavities. The sooner you incorporate good nutrition and hygiene, the better it is for the oral and overall health of your child. Many kinds of food and drink, including natural products, can cause cavities—which is surprising since they’re healthy for your body but can put your child at risk for getting cavities!

A cavity is an infectious disease, and harmful bacteria can be transmitted from person to person if not careful. To decrease transmission potential, it is important not to put things such as pacifiers and utensils in your mouth and then put them in your baby’s mouth.

For mothers who choose to breast feed, breast milk has been proven to be healthy for your child. In fact, if breast milk is the only source of nutrition there is no proven link to an increased risk of cavities. However, as soon as other food substances are introduced  (or after 12 months of age)  if you are breast feeding on demand more than seven times a day without cleaning your child’s teeth, there is an increased risk for cavities.

While milk is a healthy food, it has natural sugars so should be limited. Juice should also be limited to no more than four to six ounces a day from a cup (not a bottle or Sippy cup) during mealtimes. Snacking should be kept to a minimum. Sticky foods should be minimized, even natural healthy foods such as dried fruit, raisins, gummy snacks, and vitamins should be minimized as they will stick in the grooves of the teeth. Lollipops are the worst offenders since children suck on it and then bite it. A better option for the occasional sweet treat are foods such as chocolate and ice cream which melt, don’t stick to teeth, and are cleared out of the mouth quickly.

How do I prevent cavities and keep teeth healthy?
Wiping your child’s gums with a soft clean wet washcloth or infant toothbrush is a good way to ensure that his or her first teeth will come into a clean environment. For children whose teeth have come in, a small smear layer of fluoride toothpaste should be placed on the toothbrush and used to clean the teeth until the child can spit out. Once the child can spit out a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used. Children cannot effectively brush their teeth on their own until they are around seven years old—a parent or caregiver should be brushing their teeth until then. Floss should be incorporated as soon as the teeth touch. And of course, make sure to visit your pediatric dentist every 6 months.

What about oral health for children taking medications or with special needs?
Children with asthma who use nebulizers or inhalers should try to drink water or clean out the mouth after each treatment the medicine used to treat asthma usually drys the mouth out increasing the risk of getting cavities. Children on diet supplements should try to brush or drink water as many have high sugar content.

If your child has reflux or vomits or spits up more than average try to keep them hydrated and rinse out the mouth as much as possible the acid from the stomach can erode the teeth.
If your child has special needs and it is difficult to brush there are specialized tooth brushes and tools to help just ask your pediatric dentist.

Be aware of any medications your child is taking make sure check if it causes dry mouth or has  high sugar content.

About Dr. Julie Cernigliaro

Dr. Julie Cernigliaro is a board certified pediatric dentist at Happy Smile Pediatric Dentistry in NYC. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2001, where she received the community service and pediatric dental health award. She continued her studies, completing her pediatric dental residency at Northwestern’s Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago in 2003.

Currently she is an associate director of the Pediatric Dental Residency Program at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She became a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2006 and has given both national and international presentations on Pediatric Dentistry.