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.

 

 

 

 

 

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!  

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.

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!!

Cough Syrup Cavities

Cough syrup and cavities

cough syrup

It’s that time of year when coughs, colds and flu can make your life miserable. And like most people, you’ll probably reach for an over-the-counter medication to ease your symptoms. But did you know that spoonful of medicine could add tooth decay to your list of side effects?

Many cough drops and liquid medications contain a variety of ingredients that make your teeth more susceptible to decay:

  • Ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and sucrose contribute to decay when the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars, breaking them down and forming acids that attack the enamel of your teeth.
  • Ingredients such as citric acid can wear down the enamel of your teeth. In addition, some antihistamine syrups contain low pH levels and high acidity, which can be a dangerous combination for your teeth.
  • The addition of alcohol in some popular cold and cough syrups also has a drying effect on the mouth. Saliva helps to naturally rinse the sugars and acids away from your teeth – so with less saliva present, the sugars and acids remain in the mouth even longer, leading to greater risk for decay.

These risks can be magnified if medication is taken before bedtime. The effects of taking liquid medication before bedtime aren’t much different than drinking juice or soda before bedtime – because you produce less saliva while you sleep, sugar and acids remain in contact with the teeth longer, increasing your risk for decay.

What’s the remedy?

There are things you can do to lessen the effects of the sugars and acids in liquid medication.

  • Take liquid medication at meal times instead of bedtime so that more saliva is produced to rinse away the sugars and acids.
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after taking medication.
  • Rinse your mouth well with water or chew sugar-free gum after taking liquid medication.

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.