What To Do If Your Child Has a Toothache

 

There are numerous reasons why your child may have a toothache but, bottom line, you need to know what to do to help him or her while you wait for an appointment.

Toothache Treatments

  1. Rinse their mouth with plain warm water mixed with a teaspoon of table salt.
  2. Place a cold pack against the child’s cheek.
  3. Use Tylenol—not aspirin—for discomfort.
  4. Call us, your Lower Manhattan pediatric dentist, at 212-267-0029 as soon as possible.


Toothache Causes

  1. An emerging tooth
  2. A loose tooth
  3. Erosion or decay
  4. A cracked or chipped tooth
  5. Loose or missing fillings
  6. Food stuck between the teeth


Toothache Tips

If you notice that your usually compliant child is balking at brushing, it might be due to dental pain. Do your best to confirm if your child is being stubborn or if he or she has a toothache, and then take appropriate action.

Be as nurturing and gentle as possible. Pain of any kind can create fear with the pain, so don’t be surprised if your little one wants extra cuddling.

Don’t hesitate to contact our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental office as soon as your child complains of toothache. No child should be in pain, even if the cause is something as normal as an emerging permanent tooth. In general, the sooner you address any dental-based problem, the easier and faster the problem can be eliminated.

Why Do My Child’s Teeth Look Yellow?

I’m occasionally asked this question by parents of my NYC pediatric dental patients. In our society, white teeth are a sign of health and youthfulness so, when parents perceive their child’s teeth as yellowish, they become concerned. Here are some reasons that kids’ teeth can yellow.

 

  1. Baby Teeth are Whiter Than Permanent Teeth

While any parent may notice yellowing of their child’s teeth, it’s especially common for parents of children between the ages of 6 and 9. There’s an easy explanation for this. Children in that age group generally have a combination of primary (baby) teeth and permanent (adult) teeth, called mixed dentition. Because primary teeth have thinner enamel and less dentin than adult teeth, they appear whiter than adult teeth. By comparison, permanent teeth have more dentin, which is yellowish. When baby teeth are positioned next to permanent teeth, the permanent teeth appear more yellow. Contrary to our culture’s obsession with bright white teeth, permanent teeth are normally slightly yellow.

 

  1. Tooth Death

Poor dental hygiene or trauma can cause a tooth to die, and a dying tooth can appear yellow (as well as light brown, gray or even black). This discoloration increases as the tooth continues to decay and the nerve dies. This is an extremely rare occurrence in children and something we would notice at your child’s twice yearly exams.

 

Plaque buildup can increase the likelihood of yellowed teeth, as can dental erosion caused by the acids in soft drinks and fruit juices.

 

  1. Environmental Factors

If you notice yellowing of your teen’s teeth, it may be caused by lifestyle choices.

 

Does your child vape or smoke (cigarettes or marijuana)? Does she drink a great deal of soda, coffee or tea? Does he fail to brush and/or floss as a regular, twice-daily habit? These choices can result in yellowed teeth.

 

Certain medications are known to discolor teeth, including Amoxicillin, a very popular antibiotic for ear infections, and Doxycycline and Tetracycline, which are often used to treat acne. If your child is on one or more of these medications, it may be the cause of yellow teeth.

 

Solutions to Yellow Teeth in Pediatric Patients

We generally advise parents that, in kids with mixed dentition, once the permanent teeth are all in they will not notice yellowing, as the whiter baby teeth will no longer be present. For older children, a good cleaning with stain removal may be all that’s needed to restore a more “pearly white” appearance. We generally discourage patients from the more aggressive dental whitening unless they are in their late teens.

 

Call us at our Lower Manhattan pediatric dentist office with your concerns and needs. If we haven’t seen your child(ren) in the past six months, please make an appointment! You can reach us at 212-267-0029.

December is the month of sweets!

December is the month of sweets! to more sugar than usual and, often, a change in your schedule and overall diet. Today I’m sharing 5 pointers for a happy, healthy mouth during the December holidays!

 

  1. Are Your Children Up-to-Date on Dental Visits?

With school break generally lasting two weeks, December is a perfect time to schedule your child’s twice-yearly dental exam. Call us early, however, as this is a busy time for our office!

 

  1. Do You Have a Dental Travel Kit?

Having a dental travel kit makes it easy to keep all your supplies within reach on trips away from home. We recommend you create a kit and keep it in the suitcase ahead of time. Include travel-sized mouthwash, floss, and a toothbrush for each member of your family. And don’t forget about new convenient options like disposable toothbrushes that can be carried for “in-between” brushing on the go. Your kids will love owning their own dental kit, so help them choose a special brush and mini-toothpaste just for their time away.

 

  1. Be Sure to Protect Those Toothbrushes

Travel and hotel bathrooms mean extra handling in the luggage and on sinks in places that may have bacteria, which can find its way onto your toothbrush and, therefore, into your child’s mouth. There are numerous types of toothbrush covers to pick from but remember to dry out the brush before putting into the cover to avoid enclosing brushes in warm, damp places that encourage bacteria to grow.

 

  1. Time to Watch What Your Children Eat

I know my pediatric dental patients’ parents are committed to limiting sugary drinks, snacks, and desserts but it’s more difficult when traveling and especially during the holidays. Instead of fighting the trend, I suggest that you do your best to be sure your child eats at least two servings of fresh fruit and veggies each day, and that they rinse their mouth after they eat sweets. It won’t solve everything, but it does help keep sugar from penetrating the enamel! You have a little more control over “car treats,” so I do recommend you pack low-sugar options like fresh fruit & crudités like carrot sticks, along with pure, bottled water.

 

  1. Stick With Your Child’s Oral Health Routine

It’s easy to forego brushing and flossing when your child’s schedule is “off,” which can include falling asleep on Grandma’s sofa in front of a movie. I know we hate to wake them up to brush, but t’s important that all of us, including our children, brush and floss before sleeping. If you make this a family activity, a way to talk about the day’s events, it can even be fun!

 

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable winter holiday! We look forward to seeing you next year!

The Truth About Sports Drinks

 

Does your child consume Gatorade or other “sports” drinks at practices and games due to the belief that drinking them will give them energy and replace the electrolytes and fluids that are lost during vigorous exercise?


What Sugar Means to Your Brain
Humans love sugary foods—in fact, we’re biologically programmed to like sweet foods because our brains release serotonin and beta-endorphins when we eat them, causing us to feel relaxed and less stressed. Notwithstanding this, the parents of our NYC pediatric dental patients understand the need to keep sugary foods and beverages to a minimum in order to decrease the risk for dental cavities.
What our parents might not realize, however, is that the sugar in sports and energy drinks isn’t the sole reason to avoid them: it’s also the acid.


The Dangers of Acid in Sports Drinks
All sports drinks literally bathe the teeth in acid, which can lead to irreversible enamel damage, increased tooth sensitivity and a higher risk for cavities.


Do Children Need Sports Drinks?
It’s important for everyone—including children—to stay hydrated during and after vigorous exercise. When engaging in forceful physical activity, we do lose fluids and electrolytes. Logically, water is the go-to method of hydration, as it has no sugar. But what about the need to replace the lost electrolytes?


What Are Electrolytes?
Minerals that maintain our body’s brain, muscle and nerve functions are called electrolytes. These include the minerals calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium and phosphate. Combined with water and a carbohydrate, such as sugar, energy or sports drinks help the body’s fluid and electrolytes balance recover from depletion while the carbs provide energy.
However, the average healthy individual, including children, must exercise vigorously for at least an hour to deplete the body’s store of glucose, electrolytes and fluids to the level that replenishment is needed.


More Reasons to Avoid Sports Drinks
Sports drinks come in a nearly endless rainbow of pretty colors: pink, yellow, green, robin’s egg blue, purple and more. What provides this array of pigmented options are food dyes, such as Blue No. 1, Yellow No. 5 and Red No. 40. These petroleum products are linked to increased hyperactivity in children, as well as some cancers. The colors may be pretty, but their connections to hyperactivity and cancer are not.


Is There an Alternative to Sports Drinks?
For most kids, water is an effective replacement for the amount of fluids lost in sports. Few children will lose a significant number of electrolytes in a normal sporting practice or even a game, unless they play continuously for an hour or longer and/or temps are high. Providing fresh water, with or without electrolyte supplementation, is usually enough. Check Amazon for “electrolyte drops,” which are flavorless and easily added to a water bottle. If you’d like to make a healthy sports drink at home, check out this recipe.


If your sports-minded kiddos are already “hooked” on sports drinks, here are some ideas to mitigate the damage of consuming them:

  1. Instruct your child to rinse the mouth with water after drinking a sports drink;
  2. An alternative is to chew sugarless gum after consumption to increase saliva flow, which lowers acid levels in the mouth;
  3. Offer water as an alternative, including water with electrolyte drops if you have concerns that the level of exertion may warrant electrolyte replacement.
  4. Provide a sports drink only when warranted, i.e., not as a beverage with meals, snacks or non-sporting activities.
  5. Be sure your children understand the issues involved with sports drinks, such as tooth decay, food dyes, etc. Doing so helps them become aware of their choices.

Optimizing Dental Health for Children with Orthodontic Braces

 

Whether your child already has braces or it’s happening soon, you might find it helpful to understand the best way to care for teeth that are going through orthodontic treatment. With the goal to give your child a lifetime of straight, attractive teeth, making sure those teeth are getting the care they need to keep gums and teeth healthy is as important as being sure to make—and keep—your child’s orthodontic appointments.

 

Plaque Is Increased in Children with Braces

We all know that kids are pretty famous for rushing through tasks that they don’t enjoy. And face it, kids don’t “enjoy” brushing and flossing their teeth. Knowing that as a baseline, the challenge is doubled with kids in braces. Particles of food have extra places to hide in teeth wrapped with orthodontic appliances. Wherever these particles hide, decay begins.

 

10 Point Brush & Floss Routine for Kids with Dental Braces

  1. Remove elastic bands or other removeable parts before brushing
  2. Gently brush around and on the pins and wires
  3. Set a timer for 2 minutes and brush the entire 2 minutes, twice a day
  4. Use a fluoride toothpaste
  5. Floss at least once a day
  6. Use waxed floss, as it tends to slide more easily between teeth and the appliance
  7. A floss threader is an effective tool to get the floss under the wires.
  8. Be sure not to miss any areas
  9. Rinse thoroughly
  10. Check teeth and braces in a mirror to find any remaining food particles

 

The Importance of Regular Dental Visits for Kids with Orthodontic Braces

Children with orthodontics visit their dental specialist quite often and their general pediatric dentist here in Lower Manhattan only twice a year. Because frequent orthodontic appointments are so time consuming, it’s easy to put off those twice-yearly dental check-ups. Checking for cavities and/or plaque build-up on kids with dental braces is imperative to guarantee that your child’s teeth will not just be straight when orthodontics is completed but are healthy as well!

 

When Did We Last See Your Child?

If we haven’t seen your child(ren) within the past six months, call us today at 212-267-0029 to schedule an appointment! Regular dental checkups are the very best way to assure your child of a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles!

It’s Better to Seal Your Child’s Teeth Than Fill Them!

 

You can optimize your child’s oral health with a combination of home care, nutrition and twice-yearly visits to our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental office for check-ups and treatments. Our commitment to the latest in dental technology and techniques will go a long way to prevent cavities and to repair damage from dental decay or injury but, what’s even better than fixing problems? Preventing them! Dental sealants are an excellent preventive option for kids!

 

How Do Dental Sealants Work?

Typically, molars are the most difficult spots for kids to effectively brush and floss. For that reason, they are the most likely to develop dental cavities. Hence, the popularity of dental sealants on permanent molars. Sealants are also applied judiciously to baby teeth that might be in particular danger of developing cavities.

 

Requiring only a few minutes per tooth, sealants can be applied at any routine dental appointment. After your child’s teeth have been cleaned by the dental hygienist, an acidic material that allows the sealant to adhere to the teeth is briefly applied to the surface of the teeth and then washed off. A white resin is applied to the “bumpy” surface of the back teeth to fill up the crooks and crannies in the teeth where, historically, cavities easily form. A special light is then used to harden the resin. It may sound a bit complicated but sealant application takes only a few minutes.

 

When Should My Pediatric Dentist Apply Sealants to My Child’s Teeth?

Most children begin to see the eruption of permanent molars around 6 years of age, making that an ideal time to apply sealants. Second molars erupt around the age of 12 and should receive sealant protection at that time, as well. You don’t have to worry about making sure sealants are placed at the right time, as your NYC pediatric dentist will check your child’s teeth at every visit to evaluate the need for sealants.

 

When Did We Last See Your Child?

If we haven’t seen your child(ren) within the past six months, call us today at 212-267-0029 to schedule an appointment! Regular dental checkups are the very best way to assure your child of a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles!

 

 

Dental Tips for Teens

If you have teens at home, you know that staying on top of their dental health can be a challenge! Face it: they’re super busy, they no longer let us monitor or assist in their brushing and flossing, and the result is that most parents aren’t sure if their teens are taking care of their teeth! Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your teen’s teeth and encourage them to adopt healthy habits on their own.

Put a Ceiling on Soda

While you can’t control what your teens drink when they aren’t home, you can do so at home. The sugar in sodas coats the teeth, literally bathing them in acid. Sugar-free sodas are no better, as what they lack in sugar they make up for with flavor additives that erode tooth enamel. Here are 3 tips to mitigate the damage that sodas can inflict on dental health:

  1. Encourage children of any age (as well as yourself) to drink beverages with a straw to limit the contact the beverage has with the teeth.
  2. Rinse the mouth with water after drinking soda or any sugary beverage. This includes fruit juice and sugar-free drinks.
  3. Stock lots of cold, bottled water and/or provide filtered water for water bottles and encourage your teens and kiddos of all ages to choose water over soda or other sugary drinks.

Safeguard with Mouth Guards

Children of all ages have what’s called “personal fable,” a belief that one is so unique that life’s difficulties will not affect them regardless of their behavior, and that what happens to others won’t happen to them. For that reason, children often do not understand that they should wear a mouth guard every single time that they engage in contact sports, whether it’s organized sports or a pickup game among friends. Here are 2 tips to avoid tooth damage or loss during sports:

 

  1. Be sure your child has a mouth guard. You can get a custom-fitted mouth guard through our pediatric dental practice or pick up one at a sporting goods store, Target or other outlet. Keep it clean and store in a ventilated container to avoid bacterial growth.
  2. Encourage your child to wear the mouth guard, just as you insist they wear a helmet when skateboarding or riding a bike. It does them no good if it sits in a drawer or sports bag.

 

Oppose Piercings

Oral piercings can have devastating effects on dental health. Unfortunately, they’re still very popular with teens. Oral jewelry can chip or even fracture teeth, damage oral tissues through bacterial infections, puncture the tongue, and more. The sole tip I have about oral piercings is that parents should insist their children not have them.

 

Hone In On Healthy Snacks

Kids of all ages love junk food. Make it easy for them to find healthier snacks by stocking the frig and cupboards with fruit, carrot sticks, cheeses, yogurt, popcorn and other foods that can be eaten on the go, in the hand, and taken to school, rehearsals, sports practices & events, and part-time jobs.

 

Ban Bad Breath in Teens

Teens worry about their interaction with their peers. They worry about their hair, their clothing, their makeup, their weight—you name it. They also worry about bad breath. You can help your teens with these tips:

 

  1. Chew sugarless gum made with xylitol that’s approved by the American Dental Association.
  2. Drink lots of water throughout the day to remove food debris.
  3. Cut down on sugar to keep the mouth low on acid and bacteria.

 

Make Tobacco Taboo

Kids like to experiment. Studies show they will experiment with weed, tobacco and vaping. Be sure they understand the damage to their teeth when they engage in these habits—particularly the fact that it will discolor their teeth and give them very bad breath, two things that most teens will want to avoid!

Set The Example

You still have an enormous amount of influence on your teens. Setting a good example with positive dental behaviors, such as brushing & flossing twice a day, abstinence from tobacco, choosing water over sugary drinks and twice-yearly visits to the dentist will go a long way in molding their behaviors.

The Bottom Line

Here in our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental practice, we treat children of all ages, including teens. If we haven’t seen your teen within the past six months, please make an appointment by calling at 212-267-0029.

What Are Dental Lasers?

 

 

What Are Dental Lasers?

Here at IsmileKids pediatric dentistry in Lower Manhattan, we’ve found that the use of dental lasers makes visits easier for children, as they are more comfortable, less fearful and enjoy a faster dental treatment.

 

How Dental Lasers Work

Dental lasers use light energy and water to treat teeth without the pressure, heat and vibration that patients experience with a regular dental drill. It enables us to use less anesthetic—sometimes none at all. Lastly, it’s faster than using a drill and avoids the risk of tiny fractures and cracks on the teeth that can occur with a high-powered drill.

Laser dentistry became commercially available for dental use in 1989.

 

There Are Two Types of Dental Lasers

There are two types of dental lasers: soft tissue lasers and hard tissue lasers.

 

Soft Tissue Laser

A soft tissue laser is used for gum contouring (most often for a “gummy smile”) and removing soft tissue pathologies, such as bumps or lumps, instead of a scalpel. This laser also enables us to employ more conservative, nonsurgical treatments of periodontal disease that, though rare in children, is occasionally seen in our practice. Our parents’ commitment to twice daily brushing & flossing of their children’s teeth helps keep periodontal (gum) disease uncommon, thankfully!

 

Hard Tissue Laser

A hard tissue laser is often used in place of a drill for cavities and tooth sensitivity. The need for a local anesthetic and traditional dental drills are usually unneeded with the hard laser, which kills bacteria in the cavity. For teeth that are sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks, the dental laser can seal the tubules on the tooth root that creates the painful sensations those patients experience.

 

The Bottom Line

Here in our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental practice, we remain on the cutting edge of dental tools, including the user of lasers. We enjoy providing our patients with the best of dental technology. Call us at 212-267-0029.

Summer Tooth Tips

Summer is here, school is out and it’s time to kick back, slow down and enjoy! The Season of Leisure gets everyone out of their usual routine but, it can also disrupt the routine of flossing and brushing, which takes a backseat when your kiddo falls asleep on the sofa at the end of a sun-filled day. It’s easier to put them to bed without brushing than to wake them up and deal with a grouchy, tired child! Here are some tips to help my patients’ parents deal!

 

Create a Summer Routine

If the loose summer schedule is wreaking havoc with brushing and flossing, change it up. Have the kids brush after dinner. Yes, they will more than likely eat again before bed but you’ve at least gotten in a good cleaning in case they doze off during a late summer evening and you don’t want to wake them up to brush. If they’re awake at bedtime then, yes, definitely have them brush again before hitting the hay.

 

Time for New

Summer is a great time to buy a new toothbrush. It’s likely you’re due for replacements anyway, since the American Dental Association recommends getting a new toothbrush every 3-4 months. Find something fun for the little ones, such as a toothbrush that plays music, and a brush with a timer for older kids to encourage them.

 

Getting new toothbrushes also gives you the opportunity to take a few minutes to review good brushing and flossing techniques. As kids grow older, they want more autonomy and this includes brushing and flossing. However, you won’t know if they’re doing it correctly unless you watch them do it.

 

Speaking of new toothbrushes, summer is also a good time to check out your child’s protective mouth gear, such as mouth guards. Read this blog for tips!

 

Schedule an Appointment With Us

Since the kids are in school from September through June, most of our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental patients come to see us during winter break and over the summer. This nicely fits with the “every 6-months” dental exam recommendation. Hence, many parents schedule the kids’ dental check-ups in August, just before school starts again. You can avoid the August rush by scheduling your child’s summer appointment in July. Added benefit: You may discover that we have more appointments available in July versus August. Plus, it’s easier to address any concerns when we still have summer’s relatively “empty” days compared with juggling a dental appointment with school, soccer and other activities.

 

Be Aware of Summer’s Treats

Much of summer is about food that’s tied to events: fairs, reunions, BBQs, pool parties and other summer events. While all of us love the special treats that summer brings—ice-cold sodas, popsicles, cotton candy and the like—these foods bathe your child’s teeth in cavity-forming acids. Of course, you want your children to enjoy these treats, so we suggest that you (A) limit the number of sugary treats in a day (including sugared drinks); (B) be sure they brush or at least rinse their mouths after they consume them; and (C) do a thorough brush & floss before bed. You can make homemade popsicles from pureed fruits, which will cut down on the processed sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Healthy snack option: put out a bowl of fresh berries or apple slices in the afternoons for a healthy snack.

 

The Bottom Line:

Summer is the best time of the year for kids and it’s often difficult to remember to brush and floss when there are so many other exciting things to do! If you make your child’s oral hygiene a year-round habit you can avoid surprises later while giving them the skills for a life of healthy teeth!

Parents’ Guide to Toothpastes

Over 16 million American children have tooth decay, making it the most common childhood disease and resulting in over 51 million lost school hours per year! Since I know that my patients’ parents want to avoid cavities in their kiddos’ teeth, I’m going to go into the weeds of toothpaste options to help them select the right one for their child(ren).

 

What To Look For in a Toothpaste

There are several things to look for when choosing a toothpaste.

 

  1. The ADA Seal of Approval

The seal of approval will be prominently displayed on the box. This seal is your indication that the product has been tested by the ADA to ensure that it works.

 

  1. The Toothpaste Contains Fluoride

The American Dental Association has recommended fluoride-containing toothpaste for over 50 years because it has been proven to reduce cavities. The caveat? Be sure your child spits out all of it and completely rinses his or her mouth to avoid swallowing the fluoride toothpaste. Ingesting too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, a permanent staining of the adult teeth due to ingesting too much fluoride in childhood.

 

  1. The Toothpaste Tastes Good to Your Child

Since the goal is to get your child to brush twice a day for 2 minutes each time, it’s important that they like the taste of the toothpaste. That mint-flavored toothpaste that you enjoy as an adult may taste “too spicy” to a child. Kids’ toothpastes come in all kinds of kid-oriented flavors, like strawberry, bubblegum and others. Keep trying them until you find one that your kiddo will enjoy.

 

  1. Avoid the Abrasives in Toothpastes for Kids

While we do need some abrasive ingredients to eliminate debris and surface stains on our teeth, these abrasives can damage a child’s enamel. This is especially true of whitening toothpastes that often contain silica gel, aluminum oxide, and magnesium and/or calcium carbonates. Check the label for these ingredients and avoid using whitening toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush.

 

The Bottom Line:

If you want your child to brush twice a day with the least amount of fuss, find a toothpaste in a flavor that he or she likes. Make sure it’s ADA approved.