Big Hero 6

If you saw the Disney movie Big Hero 6 then you know its only a matter of time before robots may be guiding our children through anxious medical and dental treatments.  We already utilize technology in the dental office in the form of cartoons and movies as distraction.  A new robot has been designed specifically to help children manage pain and painful medical treatments.

robot

Dr. Tanya Beran, Chief Scientific Officer for RxRobots™ and Professor in Community Health
Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine,
University of Calgary observed an experiment of a teenage boy interacting with a robot. Not only did he show empathy, but he also tried to help the robot.
Not knowing why and with little in the research to explain this behavior, she started her own. Dr. Beran was shocked to find that children tend to think that robots are alive.
While working in hospitals, Dr. Beran was alarmed to see children screaming, struggling, and pleading not to have a needle. She realized these procedures need to be easier, faster, and far less painful.

“MEDi will become an essential part of the dental team of every dental office”

Results from a randomized trial, published in the June 2013 issue of the Vaccine journal, showed that MEDi helped calm children and reduce their pain by 50 percent during medical procedures, such as vaccinations, using cognitive-behavioral intervention. Comparable results are now being gathered by a dental office in New Jersey.

The dental team has been utilizing MEDi for about five months now and reports overall positive experiences. MEDi is constantly in the active mode allowing children to interact with him immediately and continually upon entering the dental operatory. MEDi distracts the children, reducing their initial anxiety and fear. They listen to the MEDi’s instructions, which allows the rest of the dental team to move forward faster and more seamlessly with their work with a more compliant patient.

 

 

 

 

 

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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!  

To chew or not to chew…

Chewing Gum Eliminates about 100 Million Bacteria in 10 Minutes

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Chewing gum can help improve oral health, latest research suggests.

 A team of researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that chewing of gum trapped bacteria. They expected that regular use of chewing gum can help lower bacterial load in oral cavity. Chewing gum helped eliminate about 100 million oral bacteria in ten minutes.

“Assuming a volume of saliva of around 1ml in the oral cavity, our results indicate that chewing of one piece of gum removes around 10% of the oral microbial load in saliva,” the authors concluded.

As part of the study, five people – one man and four women – aged between 27 and 56, from the department of biomedical engineering were asked to chew two types of spearmint chewing gum once in a day for different durations – 0.5, 1, 3, 5 and 10 minutes. The gum was then dipped in 10ml sterile water and placed in Teflon mold.

Scanning-electron-microscopy was used to view the bacteria trapped inside the gums. Different methods were used to calculate the total number of bacteria trapped in the gums.

However, don’t get carried away!  Chewing gum is an adjunct not a replacement for good hygiene practices.

 

Breaking the Habit

Cold Turkey: How to Convince Toddlers It’s Time to Part from the Pacifier

Tips on weaning your child from the pacifier, including different approaches that can reduce stress for both kids and parents when trying to “ban the binky!”

By AAPD President Dr. Ed Moody

Many parents are thankful for the invention of pacifiers that can help calm and soothe fussy babies. Infants often use a pacifier or suck on a thumb for comfort, security or simply as a method to make contact with the world. In fact, some babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a pacifier over a thumb to comfort new babies since a pacifier habit is easier to break at an earlier age.

Why does this matter?AAPD_PacifierWeaning_10.24

The sucking reflex is completely normal and many children will stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age.  Frequent pacifier use over a longer period of time can affect the way a child’s teeth bite together and the growth of the jaw. The upper teeth may tip outward or become crooked and other changes in tooth position or jaw alignment could occur. Intervention may be recommended for children beyond 3 years of age. The earlier a child can stop a sucking habit, the less chance there is that it will lead to orthodontic problems down the road.

My child won’t give up their pacifier – what do I do?

Some parents swear by cold turkey, while others have gradually weaned their children off pacifiers. Below are some techniques that will help your infant give up the Binky for good. But no matter which route you take, remember that as the experts in little teeth, pediatric dentists will be an invaluable resource for guidance and recommendations on the best approach to quit the pacifier.

Ask your pediatric dentist

A pediatric dentist can assist in encouraging children to stop a sucking habit and discuss each child’s particular situation. This, along with support from parents and caregivers, helps many children quit their pacifier and thumb-sucking habits. If your child needs further encouragement, pediatric dentists can also recommend behavior modification techniques to persuade children to quit the pacifier for good.

Offer an alternative

What causes your child to cry out for their beloved Binky? Once you’ve identified which situations trigger your child’s desire for a pacifier, be ready to replace it with comfort and reassurance. It can be helpful to swap out the pacifier with a transitional object such as a cuddly doll or stuffed toy. Additionally, distracting your child with a fun activity can help take their mind off the desired Binky. Be sure to offer positive reinforcement and praise when your child sleeps through the night or self-soothes without his pacifier.

Time to get creative

If you’re still running into roadblocks, it’s time to put a creative spin on the “bye-bye Binky” process. One idea is to take your child and pacifier to the store to pick out a new toy to replace their pacifier. There are many experienced store clerks who are used to this trick and are willing to play along when your child “trades in” the pacifier for a new toy of her choosing. Other parents have thrown a “Goodbye Binky” party, set out the pacifier for the Binky Fairy or donated the Binky to children who need it.

Use a countdown

If your child is resisting the idea of losing his or her pacifier, try making the process into a game. Similar to the graphic shown on this page, create a countdown game where you tell the child that over the next three to four weeks Binky will be shrinking. The first week, cut a very small hole in the top of the pacifier. Be careful to make clean cuts that do not leave any part of the pacifier hanging which could break off in your child’s mouth. Continue to cut a portion of Binky off each week until there is no longer anything left for your child to suck on. This is a great way to separate your child’s association from someone taking the pacifier away to the pacifier just breaking on its own. At the end, you can tell your child it’s time to bid Binky bye-bye.

Timing is key

Whether you decide to gradually wean or go cold turkey, make sure to time it right. Try not to take away the pacifier during life changes, major transitions or traveling so as not to put further stress on the process. Once you’ve made the plan to ditch the pacifier, make sure all caregivers are on board and stick with it! If you choose to gradually remove the pacifier, try limiting use to nap time and bed time at first. Or, let your child use the pacifier for short periods of time if you feel he particularly needs it, and gradually shorten the frequency and length of time the pacifier is used.

If you decide to go cold turkey, be sure to collect all pacifiers around the house – the last thing you need is your little one finding a pacifier the week after she gave it up and going back to square one! If you need additional ideas on how to wean your child off the pacifier be sure to ask your pediatric dentist or visit mychildrensteeth.org for further tips and a pediatric dentist locator to find a pediatric dentist near you.

Sugar

Impact Of Sugar On Tooth Decay Remains A Major Health Concern http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-sugar-image18751962

Sugar intake has effects on diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, but according to the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), it is important that the effect of sugar intake on tooth decay is also considered. Earlier this year, a 60-year period systematic review undertaken on behalf of the WHO [World Health Organization] has shown an association between the amount of sugar consumed and the development of dental cavities.

Sugar acts like a drug when trying to quit it. It causes withdrawals and cravings like a drug.  That’s sugar in all its forms: Sucrose-refined white sugar; brown sugar; organic evaporated cane juice; and many others. It definitely includes high fructose corn syrup.

The FGDP has joined hands with other organizations concerned with the effects of sugar on health. Their aim is to see added sugar to contribute to only 5% of total energy intake which is in line with the advice given by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. One major aim is to reach a consensus among food and drink manufacturers to slowly decrease the amount of added sugars in beverages and processed foods. Processed foods and beverages being a part of modern diet, steps to reduce the amount of sugars in such foods will bring overall benefits not limited to teeth alone.

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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!!

Snacks!

snacks

Each time you eat a snack containing sugar or starch (carbohydrates), the resulting acid attack on your teeth can last up to 30 minutes, and a lot of snacks and drinks contain sugar. How much sugar? A single can of pop contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, and if you think that natural sugar (like the sugar in juiceraisins or other dried fruit) is better for your teeth it’s not.

Sugar is sugar! Soda, juice, candy, dried fruit…….

 

Beat the Clock – foods that are eaten during a meal usually pose less of a threat to teeth because of the additional saliva produced during mealtime eating. Saliva helps to wash food particles from your mouth and lessen the damage from acid.  Grazing on snack foods like goldfish, graham crackers, and ‘fruit’ gummies means the mouth is constantly under attack.  Give your mouth a break and drink only water between meals.   Sugarless gum or mints will also return your mouth to a healthy pH.

Brush & floss those teeth – toothbrushing is important, and you should brush twice a day. Did you know that if you don’t floss, you miss cleaning up to 35% of each tooth? Kids need grown ups to help position the floss between molars.  Flossing after brushing at night will push the toothpaste into the right spot!  If you’re not sure how to floss, just ask!

SNACK SMARTER!

Stock up on Dairy Products – yogurt and cheese, milk and milk products contain things that are good for your teeth. Everything that’s made from milk is a good source of calcium – an essential nutrient for the development of bones and teeth. Some scientific studies have shown that eating cheese actually helps to protect your teeth from cavities by preventing something called demineralization (the loss of important calcium in your teeth).

 

Sealants!

Dental Sealants

Did you know?

Sealant1

One of the best ways to protect a child’s teeth from tooth decay is with dental sealants

Dental sealants protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years, ages six to 14, when back teeth are first susceptible to decay. Sealants provide extra protection on childrens teeth until they learn how to do a better job of brushing and flossing.

Sealants act as barriers, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. The sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.

Applying dental sealants is a simple, painless procedure that’s also inexpensive compared to filling a cavity.

Sealant3

Just the facts

  • Dental Sealants are a clear plastic material, professionally applied to the back teeth to prevent cavities.
  • 90% of children’s tooth decay occurs on tooth surfaces with pits and fissures. Sealants do a great job of preventing tooth decay on those kinds of surfaces.
  • Your child can benefit from sealants applied around six years of age, when first permanent molars erupt.

Questions and Answers

What are sealants?

Sealants are made of a white or clear resin material. They help shield bacteria which causes decay on the surface of the back teeth.

How can sealants prevent decay?

The sealant material bonds to the chewing surface of the back teeth, forming a protective barrier covering the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the molars.

Sealants prevent bacteria from nestling into the grooves of the teeth AND they seal out any food sources from the deep pits and fissures of molar teeth.

Why are sealants necessary?

Because the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) on the back teeth are impossible to keep clean. The tooth brush bristles cannot reach deep into them. These depressions and grooves are snug places for food and plaque to hide. By coating the grooves with a thick covering of sealant material, plaque and food is kept out, decereasing the chances of decay.

Which teeth are suitable for sealants?

First and second molars are most likely to benefit from sealant applications. It is best to seal these molars right after they have just erupted catching them before decay sets in. First molars generally appear at around six years of age and second molars at about 12 years of age. Children between the ages of six and 14 benefit most from sealants.

How are sealants applied?

After an examination, it is determined which teeth can be sealed. Applying sealants is very simple and painless. First, the teeth are cleaned. Then in preparation for the sealant material, the teeth are dabbed with a very mild solution similar in strength to vinegar or lemon juice. This will roughen the tooth surface slightly so the sealant will bond properly to the tooth and ensure a clean tooth surface. After the tooth has been prepared, the resin sealant material is painted onto the tooth. It will flow into the grooves of the tooth and hardens in about 30 seconds. Afterwards, the bacteria cannot reach the pits and grooves.

Have sealants been thoroughly tested?

Yes. Children around the world have had their teeth sealed in clinical studies. These studies have proven sealants to be effective, easy to apply, inexpensive and nontoxic.

Are sealants covered by dental insurance?

Yes!  Most dental insurance plans offer coverage for up to 100% of the cost of placing a dental sealant.  For information specific to your dental insurance plan, please speak with a member of my staff or your dental insurance company.

How long will dental sealants last?

Sealants will chip or break off if you regularly chew on ice or hand candies (you can also break a tooth doing that!) Sealant application can last for as long as you are careful not to bite into things that are not foods.   They should be checked regularly and reapplied when the appear to have worn off.  My goal is to send your child off to college cavity free and with intact sealants to protect their teeth into the future!