The Benefit of Sugar-Free Gum for Children

Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and a number of other holidays have children eating large amounts of candy — not to mention birthday celebrations at school. Sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay for young patients, and children who eat excessive amounts of sweets or sugar added foods tend to experience a higher number of cavities.

While the consumption of sugar is hard to prevent for patients of any age, encouraging the sugar-free gum as an alternative to normal candies, is a great way to establish long term positive habits for your child. At Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we are committed to patients’ long term dental health and have created this guide to explain the benefits that sugar-free gum provides for children.

Less Sugar, Fewer Cavities

Sugar does not directly cause cavities but is fed upon by the oral bacteria creating acid as a byproduct. As children consume more sugar, the amount of bacteria in their smile grows, leading to greater concentration of acid. This altered pH balance leads to weakened dental enamel and eventually, allows the bacteria to reach the sensitive tissues inside the tooth.

By choosing sugar-free gums, you ensure oral bacteria have less to feed on, minimizing the risk for cavities and tooth infections.

Chewing Helps Keep Teeth Clean

The very act of chewing is essential in maintaining your dental health. This is especially beneficial for younger patients who may have difficulty properly brushing and flossing their teeth on a regular basis. Consistent chewing helps to clear food particles from the surfaces of the teeth, preventing the development of plaque and decay. Chewing also generates saliva, which is the body’s natural protection against decay keeps oral bacteria levels balanced.

Sugar Substitutes: Xylitol Strengthens Teeth

Many sugar-free gums use xylitol as a sweetener. This naturally occurring substance is entirely safe and acts in much the same way as fluoride. Xylitol remineralizes the enamel, helping to guard against decay, and leading to healthier teeth in the long term.

To learn more about the steps you can take to keep your child’s teeth healthy well into their adult years, contact Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry today. Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman and our team are dedicated to helping parents achieve lasting dental health.

Are Dental Problems Hereditary?

Nature vs. Nurture: Dental Problems Parents Pass Down To Children

/Parents, in particular, want to know: does DNA predetermine dental health? It’s the classic nature vs. nurture question that dentists get asked often, but the answer doesn’t simply boil down to one or the other. The scary truth is that many dental problems are indeed “inherited”–but not from genetics alone! Harmful habits that run in the family can also play a huge role in the health of your child’s smile. Find out which oral issues you could be passing down, and what you can do about them.

DNA-Driven Dental Issues

Even before birth, the stage has already been set for certain aspects of your child’s oral health. Ultimately, your child’s genes dictate the likelihood for common issues such as:

    • Jaw-related Disorders: The size and position of one’s jaws, as well as overall facial structure, are hereditary traits that can cause a number of bite complications (or “malocclusions”). Overbites or underbites caused by uneven jaws can lead to chewing and speech difficulties, and result in chronic pain and/or Temporomandibular Jaw Disorder (“TMJ”) if left untreated.
    • Tooth Misalignments: Spacing problems, either due to missing or overcrowded teeth, are oral issues that have been hardwired in a person even before the emergence of teeth. Cases where people lack some (“Anodontia”) or all (“Hypodontia”) permanent teeth can threaten gum and jaw health, as can instances of “supernumerary” teeth, in which extra teeth erupt.
    • Weak Tooth Enamel: Though rare, it is possible for tooth enamel to be defective, or develop abnormally. Dentin, which makes up the protective enamel covering of teeth, may not be produced or mineralize at normal levels, leaving teeth vulnerable to decay, sensitivity and damage.
  • Predisposition To Oral Cancer: Genetic mutations and the presence of oncogenes, a type of gene that transforms healthy cells into cancerous ones, can increase the risk for cancer by interfering with the body’s ability to metabolize certain carcinogens.

From serious conditions such as a cleft palate, to occasional aggravations like canker sores, many other oral issues may be linked to genetics. Keeping track and sharing the family’s health history with your child’s dentist can help detect and treat inherited conditions as early as possible.

Behavioral Risks

DNA may deal your child some unavoidable complications, but when it comes to tooth decay and gum disease, learned habits and tendencies shoulder much more of the blame, including:

    • “Oversharing”: Harmful oral bacteria from a loved one can easily colonize and overtake your little one’s mouth from something as simple as sharing food, utensils, or kissing. The inadvertent swapping of saliva can put your child at increased risk for cavities and gingivitis.
    • Diet Choices: Satisfying that sweet tooth with sugary, refined treats, or turning to soda and juice for refreshment can create an unhealthy addiction that’s as dangerous to the mouth as it is to the waist. Sugar and acid can eat away at the tooth enamel, causing cavities and tooth sensitivity. Exposure to certain chemicals and ingredients can also cause discoloration.
  • Bad Hygiene: Last, but certainly not least, lacking a good dental routine can wreak havoc on teeth and gums. Failing to follow through on brushing and flossing twice a day (or as recommended by the dentist) can create a haven for cavities and periodontitis, not to mention halitosis.

Leading by example is an easy, effective way to teach your child the importance of oral health while benefitting the whole family.

Stay One Step Ahead

Every parent wants the best for his or her child–including a healthy smile. With so many potential problems that can be passed down, protecting your child’s oral health is not easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. Seek the help of your child’s dentist for optimal professional and at-home dental care. Treating existing issues early on and teaching your child to make dental-friendly decisions can provide lifelong benefits to his or her health.

 

If you have any questions or concerns about dental problems, please contact us:

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman

Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry

75 Crystal Run Road

Middletown, NY 10940

(845) 458-8500

office@hvkidsmiles.com

 

 


Sources:

CDC Oral Cancer Background Papers. (n.d.) Retrieved July 9, 2015, from http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/cdc/cdc_chapter3.php

Rondon, Nayda. (n.d.) Genetic Dental Abnormalities: Type and Symptoms. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/genetic-abnormalities/

Sippy Cups: Friend or Foe?

Sippy Cups: Friend or Foe?

Shaped like your child’s favorite action heroes and in every vibrant color imaginable, sippy cups seem like an innocent way to prevent spills. But with increased cavities and speech issues abound, pediatric dentists have recent research suggesting that what was once a friend is now a foe.

Of course, sippy cups can play an integral role in your child’s development. But in light of these recent developments, it’s important to know how to properly use them and to be aware of potential problems that can occur due to misuse.

How are Sippy Cups Supposed to be Used?

Sippy cups are a parent’s dream. After all, they allow children to take care of themselves and transition to adult cups easier than they would otherwise be able to. However, sippy cups weren’t developed or intended for prolonged use, no matter the level of convenience they offer.

In fact, sippy cups should be used as a transitional tool to wean children off of bottles until they’re able to use an adult cup. Most often, this means that sippy cup usage should stop between the ages of one and two, depending upon a child’s motor development.

Common Health Concerns Associated With Sippy Cups

Many parents understand that sippy cups can be problematic when used improperly, but not as many recognize the primary health concerns that can surface due to improper use:

    • Tooth Decay – Sugary substances in your child’s sippy cup will feed the oral bacteria in his/her mouth, thereby weakening the enamel and causing decay.

       

    • Speech Difficulties – Sippy cups can cause speech issues. This can happen when a child drinks from a cup as if it were a bottle, misplacing the tongue and pushing out the teeth, which can result in a lisp or other articulation complications.

Turning a Common Foe Back Into a Friend

A quick online search will turn up dozens of articles telling you that sippy cups are an absolute foe, but it isn’t that simple. While it’s true that sippy cups can cause problems, proper usage makes them a friend and asset as you transition your child into adult cups.

So, how can you turn this foe into a friend once again? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Choose the Right Sippy Cup – Not all sippy cups are created equal. Try to purchase ones that have a spout and two handles to promote motor development. As your child ages, you may even want to purchase a sippy cup with a straw rather than a spout. Also, if you’re using a sippy cup for juice, it’s beneficial to avoid “no-spill valves” as valves can concentrate sugary fluid on your child’s teeth over a longer period of time.
    • Limit Time With the Sippy Cup – Some kids will run around all day with their cups if you let them! Instead, take the cup away when your child is finished.
    • Offer Juice Only at Mealtimes – If you want to offer juice to your child, do so at mealtimes only. Increased saliva production will help break down the sugars and rinse them away to prevent tooth decay.
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    • Minimize Sugary Liquids – Instead of juice, opt for water during the day and at bedtime.

 

Friend or Foe: You Decide

A sippy cup can be your best friend or worst enemy: it all depends on how you use it.

By keeping the tips above in mind, your little one can enjoy his/her favorite sippy cups and you can rest assured that his/her teeth and development won’t be derailed in the process.

 

If you have any questions about Sippy Cups and oral hygiene, please contact us:

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman DDS

75 Crystal Run Road

Middletown, NY 10941  (845) 458-8500

office@hvkidsmiles.com

 


Sources:

Davis, J. (2002, May 22). Sippy Cups Causing Too Many Cavities. Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20020322/sippy-cups-causing-too-many-cavities

Mann, D. (2008, February 11). So Long Sippy Cups, Hello Straws. Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20080212/so-long-sippy-cups-hello-straws

How to Protect Your Child’s Smile: 7 Dental Hacks

7 Dental Hacks to Protect Your Child’s Smile

Take notes, tired parents! If you’ve all but emptied your bag of tricks to get your little one to brush and floss regularly, there are still a few more cards you can put up your sleeve to help keep smiles cavity-free.

Give these sneaky (yet proven) dental hacks a try to preserve your child’s oral health:

1. Have teeth coated with dental sealant.

Typically used to prevent tooth decay in permanent teeth, it is now being used more and more by pediatric dentists to protect precious baby teeth as well. In as little as a few minutes, a thin, durable barrier can be applied to the pitted surfaces of your child’s teeth to keep harmful bacteria from doing lasting damage. Since sealant is invisible to the unpracticed eye, your child won’t even notice it’s there.

2. Do another round of brushing when your child is asleep.

It can take time for your child to adopt good dental habits, but it doesn’t take long for plaque to do a number on teeth and gums. On days you think your child’s teeth could be cleaner, it can be worthwhile to simply wait until after bedtime for a second, more thorough sweep of the teeth. Waiting until your child is sleeping deeply can minimize the chance of waking him or her while you brush.

3. Keep Xylitol wipes handy for quick late-night cleanings.

Tooth wipes can be a major time-saver late at night when brushing may prove too difficult or inconvenient. If your little one requires nighttime feedings and/or medications, wipe down the teeth afterwards to reduce exposure to harmful sugar or acid overnight. Most varieties use Xylitol, a safe, natural sweetener that inhibits the growth of plaque, but look for ones that are also free of paraben and formaldehyde. (Please note: Xylitol wipes only serve as a dental aid, and should not be regarded as a substitute for daily brushing and flossing.)

4. Use disclosing tablets to detect plaque buildup.

An easy way to monitor your child’s oral health in between dentist visits is through disclosing tablets — colored chewables that use harmless dye to reveal areas where plaque is forming. Having your child use this regularly can be an effective way to ensure teeth are being thoroughly cleaned, so that you can make any necessary hygiene adjustments before cavities form. Check with your dentist for a recommended brand, and find these at your local drugstore or online.

5. Add fluoride to your child’s diet.

Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is a proven cavity-fighter that can prevent and even reverse early tooth decay. The ADA recommends daily intake of moderate levels of fluoride, and it can easily be incorporated in a variety of ways: through fluoride-enhanced water, vitamins, toothpaste and more. Check with your child’s dentist first to ensure the proper dosage for your child.

6. Encourage a drink of water after a sweet treat.

A little H2O right after dessert can do more than just quench your child’s thirst. Not only does it help minimize the contact of sugar with his or her teeth, but also it can dislodge tough food particles and help restore the mouth’s PH balance. Cleansing the palate by drinking water (and brushing, if possible) can also diminish cravings for more sweets.

7. Dish up a plate of food before going to a party.

If you know your child is headed for a celebration, have him or her eat just beforehand. Offering a plate of nutritious food can help fill your child’s stomach and make a cavity-causing cake and dessert binge less likely. Setting a rule on edible favors can also help limit sweets without cutting down on the fun of the event. Permit your child to pick out a few favorites and save (or share) the rest.

Nothing Beats Brushing and Flossing

Taking a creative approach can make dental care less stressful for both you and your child, but regular brushing, flossing and dentist visits are still the most critical paths to preserving oral health. For additional questions or ideas on protecting your child’s teeth, schedule a consultation with your child’s dentist.

 

If you have any questions about protecting your child’s smile, please contact us:

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman DDS,

75 Crystal Run Road, Middletown, NY 10940

(845) 458-8500

office@hvkidsmiles.com

 


Sources:

How clean are your kids Teeth? (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.childalert.co.uk/article.php?articles_id=497

Jaret, P. (2010, October 29). Healthy Teeth for Life: 10 Tips for Families. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/healthy-teeth-tips

Oral Health Challenge: 5 Tricks for Dealing with Halloween Treats. (2012, June 20). Retrieved May 24, 3015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/5-tricks-for-dealing-with-halloween-treats?page=2

How Sealants Prevent Cavities in Children

Sealants: Stop Cavities Before They Begin

Imagine you could protect your smile and preserve good oral health. Would you do it? In all likelihood the answer is yes and, with sealants, you can.

Few oral issues can be fully preempted or prevented. After all, genetics and other factors can play a role in whether or not you develop cavities or more serious dental complications. But with sealants, you can prevent cavities for up to a decade before they ever have a chance to start.

What Are Sealants?

Sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth, particularly premolars and molars, to prevent tooth decay. By bonding to the depressions and grooves of teeth where most cavities begin, they can prevent tooth decay in a way that regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing can’t.

Most often, sealants are used on children between the ages of 6 and 14 because this is when they are most vulnerable to cavities. Sealants can also be used on adults who don’t have current decay or fillings in their molars and on babies with deep depressions and grooves in teeth to preserve them as placeholders for adult teeth. Of course, sealants must be made age-appropriate and tailored to each patient’s unique needs.

Applying Sealants is Quick and Painless for Most

The best part about sealants is that the application process is quick and painless. In fact, there are just four simple steps involved in the entire process:

    • Cleaning – Prior to applying sealants, your dentist will clean each tooth that is being sealed to ensure the bond is as strong as possible.
    • Preparation – Once your teeth are clean, they will be dried and surrounded by cotton or another absorbent material to prevent saliva from getting the tooth wet again. An acid solution will also be applied to enhance the band between the sealants and your teeth.
    • Rising and Drying – After the acid solution has been applied, just one more rinse and dry is required before the actual application.
  • Application of the Sealants – After all the preparation is complete, the sealants will be applied. In some cases, your dentist will use a special curing light to help sealants to harden more quickly.

Sealants Can Stand the Test of Time for Most

Few dental solutions are permanent and sealants are no different. However, they can provide up to 10 years of protection, which is great for babies, young children, and adults.

Regular dental visits are the best way to prolong the effectiveness of your treatment. Your dentist can check your sealants for chipping or wearing and replace them if necessary. By replacing them soon after they begin to wear down, you can enjoy continued protection from cavities.

With Sealants, You Can Keep Your Smile Both Beautiful and Functional

Sealants are a simple solution to prevent cavities and protect some of the most functional teeth in your mouth. They can be a worthwhile investment for you and/or your children to keep smiles looking great for years to come.

 

If you’re interested in discussing the benefits of sealants for your child, please contact us:

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman DDS,

75 Crystal Run Road, Middletown, NY 10940

(845) 458-8500

office@hvkidsmiles.com

 


Sources:

Dental Health: Sealants. (2013, April 14). Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-sealants