1

Juice vs. Soda?

soda_v_juice

If you’re a parent, you’re probably already wary of giving your kids sugary soda—but what about such popular kids’ favorites dubiously labeled “fruit drinks”?

With more added sugar on average than any other beverage, soda is no doubt deserving of its public health enemy No. 1 status. It’s a prime source of the sort of empty calories that have been linked to the epidemic of childhood obesity and related ills. In the past few months, news broke that Burger King had become the last of the big three burger chains to drop soda from its kids’ meals.

when it comes to other popular kids’ drinks, studies find that parents are often deceived into believing they are healthier than soda—or just healthy in general

In an online survey of nearly 1,000 parents, researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut found that while 62 percent of parents said they had given their kids soda at least once in the past month, nearly 80 percent had provided ‘fruit drinks’ a category that excludes beverages made from 100 percent fruit juice. That’s despite well over half of the respondents saying they were either somewhat or very concerned about the amount of sugar their kids consume.

How to explain the discrepancy? As one of the study’s authors put it, “Although most parents know that soda is not good for children, many still believe that other drinks are healthy. The labeling and marketing for these products imply that they are nutritious, and these misperceptions may explain why so many parents buy them.”

Think about it: If Sunny D touted the 11 grams of sugar in each 6.75-ounce bottle instead of “100% Vitamin C,” you’d probably think twice about buying it for your kids. Ditto for those Hi-C juice boxes, which likewise give top billing to the vitamin C content while burying that they contain a whopping 25 grams of sugar per box.  But what about organic?  Remember, its the sugar that is organic (without pesticides) which does not mean there is less sugar per serving.

There is, rather amazingly, more sugar in every ounce of Hi-C fruit punch than regular Coke, while a single pouch of Capri Sun fruit punch packs as much sugar as the American Heart Association recommends preschoolers consume in an entire day.

Kid-sports-drinkWorse yet are sports drinks. And while parents of toddlers probably aren’t packing their kids off to daycare with a pouch of Gatorade, plenty of parents of adolescents seem to think their budding athletes will perform that much better on the field if they’re hopped up on electrolytes. But any extra energy is likely to come from another source: Sports drinks often contain even more sugar per ounce than soda. A single 4-ounce pouch of Gatorade Prime (marketed as an energy booster) contains 23 grams of sugar, even as the AHA recommends teenagers limit their sugar intake to just 21–33 grams per day. Not to mention the artificial colors!

So what should kids be drinking instead? Echoing the advice of public health advocates, pediatric dentists recommend sticking to WATER and low-fat/skim milk. The more health messages on the front of the package, the less healthy the product is!  Despite its good protein content, check the sugar content of Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry milk too.  You’ll be surprised that ounce per ounce, there is as much sugar in a popular “kids vanilla milk” as there is in a can of soda.

We want children to value the taste of water, not become addicted to sweet drinks.  Save your money on juice boxes, pouches and drinks.  Tap water is best for the body and the mind!

The take home message?

Eat your fruits, don’t drink them!  

2

Baby Tooth Care

Baby_teeth“Why do I have to bring my baby to the dentist if he barely has any teeth?”

You bring your healthy infant to the pediatrician multiple times in the first year, but less than 1% of infants see a dentist by the recommended age of 1.  An infant dental screening is about giving parents the correct information on how to care for baby teeth.  Much of the information on baby tooth care found in baby books, the internet and even from the pediatricians is out-dated or incorrect!  Cavities are preventable, but prevention needs to start early with the eruption of the first tooth.  Putting off proper care until a child is 3 or 4 years old is too late, but early prevention can last a lifetime.

At the infant oral screening exam we will cover not only tooth brushing, but also growth & development, medical complications affecting teeth (like ear infections or asthma), feeding issues, dietary practices, speech, trauma, vitamins, toothpaste, and so on.  The mouth requires proper cleaning from the very beginning – its no different than cleaning the rest of the baby’s body!

Did you know that cavities on baby teeth don’t hurt?

If you are waiting for your child to “be ready” to see the dentist, stop waiting!  We make the dentist office fun and care for each child uniquely.  Don’t allow your own fears to stand in your way, most parents are very surprised how much fun children have at the dentist these days. If you are waiting for your child to complain of a toothache – it won’t happen!  Baby teeth do not have the same complex nerve signals that adult teeth do. Unfortunately cavities in baby teeth grow silently and are usually very large by the time they are seen with your eyes.  By the time a child complains of a toothache, its usually too late to save the tooth and it likely needs to be extracted.

Few Children receive Dental Care before Recommended Age of 1 Year:

Research shows that children most susceptible to dental cavities are very unlikely to receive early dental care. The study surveyed 2505 children aged 4 and found that 39% had never visited a dentist. Less than 1% of healthy children visited dental clinics by recommended age of 1 year and less than 2% of them by 2 years of age. The study further found that never being to a dental office was associated with few factors such as younger age, poor economic condition of the family, prolonged bottle feeding, and daily consumption of sweetened drinks such as juice.

Can’t find a dentist who treats infants and toddlers?

Pediatric dentists are specialists devoting to treating children, especially those with complex medical needs.  This extra training requires years beyond dental school and multiple examinations.  You can find a Board-Certified pediatric dentist at ABPD.org.  We are happy to see your child at any age.  Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

See you soon~

 

Drink Up!

Winter weather may have you drinking less water, but its crucial to good health to drink up.

water

Here in New York City, the amount of fluoride in our water is adjusted along with the seasons.  Parents of my New Jersey patients are often shocked to learn that Jersey City (and much of the state of NJ) is a non-fluoridated community.  That means your child may be missing out on the valuable benefits of tap water on both the baby teeth that you can see and the permanent teeth that are forming under the gums.

Water, water, water…….its the most important drink you give to your child.   Keep in mind,  most bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride, is expensive, and is bad for the environment.  Don’t like the taste of tap water?   Buy a Britta filter to keep tap water ice cold in the fridge without filtering out the fluoride!  Infants under 12 months old may drink water from a baby bottle.  Toddlers and children should be encouraged to use a straw cup or an uncovered cup after their 1st birthday.   Only put water in a sippy cup, straw cup or baby bottle.  Sweetened liquids (including milk) should only placed be in an uncovered cup after 1 year old.  On the go?  Have your child pick out a water bottle to take along or decorate a plain bottle with stickers.

 Please let me know if you have questions on quality and quantity of water necessary for your child.

Communities save $38 in dental expenses for every $1 spent to  fluoridate public drinking water!!

Pregnancy & Your Baby’s Teeth

Start Motherhood With a Healthy Mouth

Being pregnant affects your oral health. As your body changes during pregnancy, you are more likely to get sore, puffy or red gums. Paying attention to your oral health is especially important at this time. The good news is that by taking care of your mouth during pregnancy, you are not only helping yourself, you are also helping your baby.

Dental disease is caused by bad bacteria (germs) that can be easily transmitted from mom to infant through saliva by sharing food or utensils. Getting dental care during pregnancy is safe and strongly recommended. By getting your own teeth treated prior to the birth of your baby, less bacteria will be transmitted to your baby and your child will be at less risk for developing cavities.

Parents who keep their own mouths healthy will help prevent problems for their child.

How Do You Keep Your Mouth healthy?

  • Brush with fluoridated toothpaste twice daily (especially important before bed time) and floss every day.
  • Chew gum with xylitol (a natural sweetener that reduces the cavity-causing germs in the mouth) four to five times a day, especially after eating.
  • Limit sweet and high-carbohydrate snacks, such as soda, candy, crackers and chips. These foods feed the germs that live in the mouth and cause cavities. When you do eat these foods, brush afterwards. If brushing is not possible, rinse your mouth with water.
  • Continue to get regular dental care while pregnant. This includes preventive care, along with fillings and emergency dental services as needed. Receiving dental care while pregnant is safe and recommended. Once you have a newborn baby, it will be hard to find the time to get to the dentist, so do it now.
  • If you have nausea and vomiting, it is important to reduce the acid in your mouth (it can damage your teeth). Eat small amounts of nutritious snacks during the day. If you vomit, rinse your mouth. Put 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and use this to rinse. Be sure to spit after rinsing. Do not brush right after vomiting; this can damage the surface of your teeth.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

whitespotsBaby Bottle Tooth Decay

Even though they are temporary, your child’s baby teeth are important, and are still susceptible to cavities. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Early Childhood Caries. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a good-looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for decades to come.

 

What causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.

There are many factors which can cause tooth decay. One common cause is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar (yes, that means milk!). Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.

Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth, or cleans a pacifier in her mouth, the bacteria can be passed to the baby.

If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride, they may also have an increased risk for tooth decay. The good news is that decay is preventable.

 

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

  • Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
  • When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and water or a toothbrush dipped in fluoride rinse.
  • Brush the teeth with a smear amount of FLUORIDE toothpaste from the ages of 2 to 6.
  • Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to brush every surface – usually not before he or she is 7 or 8!
  • Place only formula, milk or breastmilk in bottles, NEVER with liquids such as sugar water, juice, coconut water or soft drinks.
  • Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed.
  • If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits.

When your child’s first tooth appears and no later than their 1st birthday, schedule the first well-check visit with a pediatric dentist. Treat the first dental visit as you would a well-baby checkup with the child’s physician. Remember: starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health.