Xylitol: The Sweetener You and Your Dentist Will Love

A Sweetener That’s Good For Your Teeth?

XylitolConsider this a major score for your sweet tooth: dentists are taking back that hard and fast rule that gum and candy rot your teeth!  A sweetener called Xylitol makes it possible to enjoy such treats guilt-free, while actually fighting cavities along the way.

For those who have long kept the candy aisle off limits or those who cave to their cravings despite the risk of tooth decay, products with this game-changing ingredient may offer the perfect solution.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sweetener similar to sugar in both taste and appearance. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, but is most commonly derived from fibrous plant-based matter, such as corncobs or birch wood. It has received the World Health Organization’s safety rating when added to your diet in a moderate amount (15 grams or less), and only has a third of the amount of calories as sugar.

Dental Benefits of Xylitol

Xylitol’s appeal is not only due to its favorable calorie count, but also to it being a naturally occurring substance that cavity causing oral bacteria are unable to ferment or metabolize. Other dental benefits of products containing Xylitol include:

  • Increased saliva production, which helps keep dry mouth at bay
  • Reduced plaque buildup, due to lower bacteria and acidity levels
  • Less enamel erosion, as stimulated saliva helps restore lost calcium and phosphates

Xylitol vs. Sorbitol

Consumers familiar with other sugar-free alternatives may wonder how Xylitol stacks up against Sorbitol, a similar, less expensive substitute that has been on the market for a longer period of time. Although both compounds are technically classified as sugar alcohols, the primary difference is that cavity-causing bacteria can ferment Sorbitol. This means that, while it’s still friendlier to your teeth compared to sugar, it is not as effective as Xylitol at inhibiting oral bacteria growth.

Products That Contain Xylitol

The popularity and overall versatility of Xylitol have made it a favorite not only for food companies, but for dental care companies as well. Chewing gum is but one of many products sweetened with Xylitol. Other products include:

  • Lollipops
  • Mints
  • Toothpastes/gels
  • Caramels
  • Sugar Candies
  • Mouthwash
  • Dark Chocolate
  • “Table Sugar” Replacements
  • Floss

With so many Xylitol products on the market, incorporating this ingredient into your diet and/or hygiene is practically effortless.

Limitations of Xylitol

As beneficial as Xylitol may be, it’s important to know there are limits. From a nutritional perspective, excess intake may actually result in side effects such as stomach discomfort and/or diarrhea. From a dental perspective, Xylitol is but one aspect of preventative care, and should not be perceived as a magic bullet.

Frequent brushing, flossing and dentist visits still play the same critical role in preserving your oral health. Consult with your dentist for an optimal approach to incorporating Xylitol into your everyday diet and routine.

If you have any questions about Xylitol, contact us:

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman, DDS

Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry

75 Crystal Run Road

Middletown, NY 10940






Tanton, D. (n.d.). What is Xylitol? Retrieved June 7, 2015, from http://xylitol.org/about-xylitol

Xyitol: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings. (2009). Retrieved June 7, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-996-xylitol.aspx?activeingredientid=996&activeingredientname=xylitol


How to Make Brushing and Flossing Fun for Your Child

Regular brushing and flossing are necessary to ensure your child learns techniques for lifelong dental health. While most parents know that showing their child how to brush and floss is important, they may struggle to keep them engaged with the task. Children sometimes dislike this activity, as they do not see it as fun.

At Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we are committed to the long term health of children’s smiles through care both in our office and at home. We have created this guide to help parents turn daily brushing and flossing into a fun time for their children, encouraging positive habits for a lifetime.

Use a Themed Toothbrush

Modern toothbrush manufacturers offer a number of options to keep children interested in brushing and flossing. Whether your child likes Marvel, Disney, or Nickelodeon, there are almost certainly brushes themed with characters or shows they enjoy. This allows younger patients to turn brushing their teeth into a game starring the characters from their favorite shows, movies, and games.

Play Your Child’s Favorite Song as a Timer

With the availability of streaming music on nearly every connected device in your household and in your pocket, it is easier than ever to make a timer out of your child’s favorite song. If the song they choose ends before the recommended two minutes, start it over or begin to play another song they like. This makes the time spent brushing pass quickly and enjoyably.

Let Your Child Pick the Flavors of Toothpaste and Floss

There are a variety of flavors your child can choose from selecting oral hygiene products. The next time your child needs toothpaste or floss, let them go with you to purchase them. They can choose the flavor and even the theme of their brushing and flossing materials, ensuring that they are as happy as possible when keeping their teeth clean.

Brush and Floss with Your Child

Your child may prefer to clean their smile with you, rather than do so by themselves as you supervise. When it is time for your child to brush their teeth, do it with them. You can even turn their oral healthcare routine into a fun competition, where you see who can brush their teeth better.

Help Your Child Keep Their Smile Healthy

Making brushing and flossing fun for your child can ultimately be fun for you too. To learn other ways to keep your child’s teeth healthy while keeping them engaged, contact Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry today. Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman and our whole team want to see your child smile happily for a lifetime.

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.

A Parent’s Guide to Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) has become a topic of much discussion among parents looking to protect their child’s dental health without having to completely remove and fill portions of the hard dental tissues.

At Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we provide young patients with comprehensive care and educate parents on the best and latest methods of cavity control. We have created this guide to help patients understand the details of SDF and how it can best be used to treat your child.

What is Silver Diamine Fluoride?

Silver Diamine Fluoride is a colorless and odorless liquid varnish that contains both silver and fluoride. As with traditional fluoride varnishes, the ingredients re-mineralize dental enamel, helping to prevent future decay and preserving patients’ dental health. The silver content of this liquid is entirely safe and acts as an antimicrobial material when applied to sites of decay.


How SDF is Used

SDF has been approved as a Class II medical device by the FDA, allowing dental professionals to apply the liquid in the same way as traditional fluoride. While SDF is sometimes presented as an alternative to drilling and filling cavities, this material is better served to augment normal preventive care for dental decay.

This liquid is best for patients who are experiencing significant decay in their baby teeth, but who do not require fillings for all caries. This not only helps to preserve a greater portion of the healthy tooth structure, but encourages the long-term health of your child’s smile.


Are There Downsides to SDF?

The unfortunate downside to this liquid is that it turns decayed portions of tooth black. SDF also leaves a slightly metallic taste, though this fades quickly. These downsides are often weighed against the health benefits of silver diamine fluoride, making them generally beneficial for teeth that are not visible in the smile.

To learn more about the effects of Silver Diamine Fluoride and other materials used in the regular care of your child’s dental health, please contact us.  At Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we are committed to total preventative care.

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman, DDS

75 Crystal Run Road

Middletown, NY 10941

(845) 458-8500


Everything You Need To Know About Pediatric Fluoride Treatment

Understanding Pediatric Fluoride Treatment

It’s undeniable that fluoride has played a major role in the decline of dental cavities in the United States. However, what isn’t so clear to many parents is whether or not fluoride treatments are safe and/or beneficial for children.

After all, children receive fluoride on a regular basis from many different types of foods and even water. Through these sources alone, minerals lost due to plaque, bacteria, and sugars are remineralized on teeth.

So, is an additional fluoride treatment at the dentist necessary and if so, at what age are the treatments most beneficial? Read on to find out.

Why You Should Consider Fluoride Treatments for Your Child

While it’s true that fluoride found in foods and water can replace lost minerals, it sometimes isn’t enough to strengthen teeth and protect against cavities. In fact, if you don’t consume enough natural fluoride, demineralization will occur much more quickly than remineralization, leaving enamel at risk and causing tooth decay.

Fluoride treatments speed up the natural remineralization process, providing prolonged protection against demineralization and related tooth decay. They are particularly effective in children because they can reverse early decay while protecting permanent teeth as they develop.

Scheduling Your Child’s Fluoride Treatments

Children should start fluoride treatments at around 6 months of age and continue at least until they turn 16 (and ideally, beyond this age as well). Treatments vary based on age and also on whether they are done at home or at the dentist’s office:

    • Drops, Chewables, Tablets, or Lozenges – These treatments are typically used at home for children 6 months and older who don’t receive enough fluoride in their water.
    • Fluoride Toothpaste – After the age of two, children’s teeth should be brushed using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride.
    • Fluoride Varnish – Once baby teeth have appeared, children should have a fluoride varnish applied to protect against tooth decay. Typically, varnishes are applied by a dentist twice per year for children two and older.
    • Gels and Foams – As children get older, a dentist commonly applies gel or foam fluoride treatments using a mouth guard. This typically takes about five minutes.
  • Mouth Rinses – A fluoride mouth rinse may be prescribed for children over 6 years of age who are at risk for tooth decay due to genetics or other factors. A mouth rinse is typically used in combination with other fluoride treatments.

Protecting Your Child from Too Much Fluoride

The most common concern about fluoride treatments is that large amounts can be toxic to the brain, bones, kidney, and thyroid. However, products intended for home use have extremely low levels of fluoride, meaning that you generally don’t have to worry.

Still, there are precautions you can take to ensure you’re not only keeping potentially dangerous products away from children, but also using fluoride properly:

  • Store any fluoride supplements or products out of reach of young children.
  • Use limited amounts of fluoridated toothpaste on a child’s toothbrush.
  • Don’t allow children to use fluoridated toothpaste without supervision until the age of 6.

Fluoride Treatments Play a Vital Part in Your Child’s Smile

Although some parents view fluoride skeptically, professional treatments are integral to your child’s smile starting at 2 years of age.

By doing your part at home and scheduling regular appointments, you can help prevent cavities and give children the strong teeth they need both now and in the future.

If you have any questions about fluoride, please contact us:

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman, DDS

75 Crystal Run Road

Middletown, NY 10941

(845) 458-8500





Dental Health and Fluoride Treatment. (2014, October 9). Retrieved on June 3, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/fluoride-treatment

Guideline on Fluoride Therapy. (2014). Retrieved June 3, 2015 from http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_fluoridetherapy.pdf

Reinberg. S. (2014, May 6). Docs Should Give Toddlers Fluoride Treatments: Panel. Retrieved on June 3, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20140506/doctors-should-give-toddlers-fluoride-treatments-us-task-force

Kids and Sweets – A Solution to Parent’s Problems

Parent’s Cheat Sheet: 5 Steps to Solving the Sweets Problem

/Birthday celebrations, holidays, and countless school or extracurricular activities in between children’s social calendars can seem like endless fun, until you realize they can also translate into a non-stop, cavity-inducing sugar high. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that your child is destined for a long list of dental problems. Use this dental cheat sheet when a special occasion arises to keep his or her smile cavity-free.

Step 1: Set Rules

Create boundaries that can help protect your child’s oral health without cutting down on the fun, such as:

  • A sweets “allowance” that lets your child indulge, but in a limited fashion
  • Frequent drinks of water to wash sugary particles off the surface of his/her teeth
  • A full meal before dessert to fill up on nutritious foods and help curb cravings
  • “Off-limits” beverages, such as carbonated sodas or fruit juices

Keeping instructions simple, yet clear can make it easier for your child to adopt these rules without any hassle, and help him or her stick to the guidelines even if you are not present.

Step 2: Teach Your Child To Choose Wisely

Not all sweets are equally damaging to teeth, so helping your child to make smarter choices can have a big impact on the amount of sugar he or she eats. Prolonged sucking on hard candies, for instance, is one of the most harmful ways to satisfy a sweet tooth because of lengthy, direct exposure of the tooth’s surface to concentrated sugar. Likewise, sticky foods that contain ingredients such as caramel or toffee are more likely to get lodged in between teeth, and chewing on them may even result in a lost filling.

If or when possible, steer your child towards cakes and cookies instead. While these desserts are still refined carbohydrates that will break down into sugar, the amount of contact with harmful acid is significantly less than with candies and other stickier treats.

Step 3: Bring/Pack Something Nutritious

Make it easy for your child to opt for something nutritious by packing a healthy alternative. Cheese, for example, is calcium-rich and can help remineralize tooth enamel. Many manufacturers now offer single-serve packages for convenience when on the go. An apple is another tooth-healthy option when chewed, its high fiber content makes it an excellent “plaque scrubber”. Even sugar-free gum can do the trick if it contains xylitol, which can help prevent the growth of oral bacteria.

Step 4: Have Your Child Brush And Floss As Soon As Possible

Ultimately, maintaining good oral hygiene is the most effective thing parents can do at home to help keep their children’s smiles healthy. If you’re always on the go, it may be worth packing a travel-sized toothbrush, but if your child forgets to brush amidst all the excitement, make sure he or she does so upon returning home.

Flossing is just as critical, and nowadays, there are many options that parents might find to be more “kid-friendly” – such as water flossers or interdental brushes. At minimum, your child should be brushing and flossing twice a day, but don’t hesitate to add another round of cleaning if he or she has had a particularly rich meal.

Step 5: See The Dentist

Last, but not least, make sure your child visits the dentist at least twice a year (or as advised by the dentist). In addition to receiving a professional cleaning, your child’s dentist can look for developing decay and gum disease, and treat it before it becomes more serious. He or she can also help ensure your child is practicing the correct brushing and flossing techniques, and provide teeth additional protection in the form of dental sealants, if need be.

Lead By Example

Perhaps the easiest way to teach your child how to protect his or her teeth is to lead by example – and doing so not only benefits him or her, but your oral health as well! Follow these tips together with your child, and consult with your child’s dentist for additional ways you can make dental care a simple and even fun experience for your child.

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman

75 Crystal Run Road

Middletown, NY 10941




Delta Dental Names Best and Worst Halloween Treats for Kids. (2013, October 31). Retrieved July 22, 2015, from https://www.deltadental.com/Public/NewsMedia/NewsReleaseBestWorstHalloweenTreats201310.jsp

SanFilippo, Elizabeth. (n.d.). Kid’s Healthy Teeth During The Holidays. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/article/sw-281474979252016

How To Care for Your Infant’s Oral Health

Caring for Your Infant’s Oral Health


Teeth or no teeth, your infant’s oral health should always be a top priority. But, how are you supposed to care for your baby’s teeth? There are numerous steps to take and each serves an important purpose in preparing your baby for a future smile he or she will be glad to show off.

First: Caring for Your Baby’s Gums

Although your baby is born without visible teeth, it’s still important to care for his or her gums. If you don’t, you’ll leave harmful bacteria behind that can damage teeth as they begin to emerge.

You won’t need a toothbrush or toothpaste for gum care. Instead, you can use a soft, slightly moistened cloth or gauze to wipe down your baby’s gums, especially after feedings and prior to bedtime.

Second: Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth

Your baby’s teeth will begin to emerge from the gums at around 6 months of age, at which point you’ll need to begin using a toothbrush for cleaning. It’s best to purchase a toothbrush with soft bristles, a small head, and a large handle to make it easier for you to clean and more comfortable for your baby.

You should start with very limited amounts of toothpaste (fluoride-free) and, as more teeth emerge, you can increase the amount. This will gradually familiarize your child with the taste and texture of toothpaste.

Third: Visiting the Dentist

It’s vital that you schedule your baby’s first dental appointment before his or her first birthday or within 6 months of his or her teeth appearing.

This will allow the dentist to identify potential problems caused by injuries, illnesses, or development complications. If issues are identified, the dentist can treat them or refer you to a paediatrician should something go beyond the teeth’s surfaces.

General Preventative Dental Care for Your Infant

Visiting the dentist early is one type of preventative care for your infant. There are additional things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of cavities as teeth continue to emerge:

    • Only put formula, breast milk, and water in baby bottles to avoid “baby bottle tooth decay,” and be sure to clean gum/teeth after the consumption of formula or breast milk as both contain sugar.
    • Decrease your child’s sugar consumption, particularly between meals, because sugar feeds bacteria that can attack your baby’s teeth.
  • Never put anything sweet on your baby’s pacifier to encourage him or her to use it.

Early Oral Health Sets Your Baby Up for a Beautiful Smile

Baby teeth are functionally important during childhood and also serve a critical role as place holders for adult teeth. By caring for them properly from the very beginning, you can promote oral health and create a great foundation for a bright, beautiful future smile.


If you have any questions about your infant’s oral health, please contact us:



(845) 458-8500




Basic Dental Care – Infants and Children. (2014, November 14). Retrieved June 2, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tc/basic-dental-care-infants-and-children

Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth. (2014, November 6). Retrieved June 2, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-health-dentures

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





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/

Ask Dr. Geri: Safety of Dental X-Rays


I’m worried that my child will get too much radiation.  Are dental x-rays safe and really necessary for children?

Dental x-rays are necessary to diagnose cavities between teeth that are not detectable with visual examination.  They are used to evaluate the severity of decay, and assess the health of the roots and supporting structures of the teeth.  In children, x-rays may also be used to evaluate the development and position of the permanent teeth, and to rule out any potential oral disease.

Fortunately, dental x-rays are much lower in radiation in comparison to most medical x-rays.  As you can see from the chart below, a single dental x-ray is the equivalent of eating two bananas, and the newer digital radiographs emit even lower radiation.  In fact, our office uses a new technology that is so low in radiation that the technician taking the radiographs actually stays in the room with the patient.

The frequency of x-rays recommended may vary depending on the patients’ age and dental history.  Children who have a history of tooth decay may require more frequent radiographs than those with no history.

Currently, dental disease in children is more common than asthma and hay fever, so the earlier that you diagnose and treat decay, the better.  If left untreated, dental decay can lead to pain and infection.

Dental x-rays are very important for proper diagnosis and treatment.  The risks associated with undiagnosed and untreated dental disease far outweigh those associated with dental x-rays.

If you would like to discuss how to the safety of dental x-rays, please contact us:

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman DDS

75 Crystal Run Road, Middletown, NY 10940

(845) 458-8500