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Thanksgiving Trivia

November 23rd, 2022

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd we love learning trivia and interesting facts about Thanksgiving! This year, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes wanted to share some trivia that might help you feel a bit smarter at the holiday dinner table and help create some great conversation with friends and family.

The Turkey

There is no historical evidence that turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving dinner. It was a three-day party shared by the Wamponoag Indians and the pilgrims in 1621. Historians say they likely ate venison and seafood.

According to National Geographic, the dinner at the Plymouth colony was in October and included about 50 English colonists and 90 American Indian men. The first Thanksgiving dinner could have included corn, geese, and pumpkin.

Today, turkey is the meat of choice. According to the National Turkey Association, about 690 million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving, or about 46 million turkeys.

The Side Dishes

The green bean casserole became popular about 50 years ago. Created by the Campbell Soup Company, it remains a popular side dish. According to Campbell’s, it was developed when the company was creating an annual holiday cookbook. The company now sells about $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup each year, which is a major part of the recipe.

While there were likely plenty of cranberries for the pilgrims and Indians to enjoy, sugar was a luxury. What we know today as cranberry sauce was not around in those early Thanksgiving days. About 750 million pounds of cranberries are produced each year in the US, with about 30 percent consumed on Thanksgiving.

The Parade

Since Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until Lincoln declared it in 1863, the annual parades were not yearly events until much later. The biggest parade that continues to draw crowds is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Beginning in 1924 with about 400 employees, they marched from Convent Avenue to 145th Street in New York City. Famous for the huge hot-air balloons today, it was actually live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo that were the stars of the show then.

However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday with those you love.

Sealants Protect Your Child’s Teeth from Decay

November 16th, 2022

Sealants provide a thin coating over molars that can be a powerful tool to protect your child’s teeth from decay. This simple and painless solution can be applied in a matter of minutes by our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, forming a protective shield and avoiding costly and painful cavities or other forms of tooth decay later.

The Causes of Tooth Decay

Our mouths are routinely filled with germs and bacteria. Some of these bacteria can be helpful in converting the foods we eat (especially sugars in the food) into acids that our bodies use to break down food. However, when we eat too much sugar, the excess acids can cause cavities and other decay in teeth.

Molars (our chewing teeth) are prime sites for tooth decay because they have rough surfaces with lots of little grooves where small food particles and germs find places to stay for extended periods of time. If you can prevent tooth decay in your child’s teeth now, you may be able to avoid treatments for decaying teeth later in life—costly and painful procedures like crowns and fillings.

Protecting Against Decay

A comprehensive plan for mouth care can protect against tooth decay. This plan should include:

  • Drinking water with fluoride in it or using other fluoride supplements
  • Eating a healthy diet (avoiding excessive sugar)
  • Brushing teeth regularly
  • Applying sealants

On their own, each of these activities is good but does not provide enough protection against decay. Fluoride is best for protecting the smooth surfaces of our front teeth, but may not provide enough of a shield for our rough, uneven back teeth. In addition, toothbrush bristles may not get to all the tiny food particles and germs in our mouths. For these reasons, sealants are the recommended preventive measure for molars in the fight against germs.

Who needs sealants, and when?

The best time to get a sealant is when your child’s adult teeth are just growing in. Between the ages of about five and seven, children grow their first permanent molar teeth, and they grow a second set of permanent molars between the ages of 11 and 14. Sealants placed on these teeth as soon as they grow in will be most effective in preventing tooth decay before it occurs.

If your child still has his or her baby teeth, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes may recommend sealants for teeth that are especially rough or uneven and may be prone to tooth decay. When your child loses his or her baby teeth, we will apply new sealants to the permanent teeth when they grow in. In addition, our team may recommend sealants for adults in special cases; for example, if a previously placed sealant falls out, if you never had sealants put in as a child, or if your teeth are prone to decay and the preventive treatment may help.

Talk to us during your next visit at our Chicago office to learn more about how dental sealants can help protect your child’s teeth.

Shark Teeth

November 9th, 2022

It seems like sharks are everywhere these days—on land, sea, and air(waves). A halftime show meme gone viral. A week of summer TV devoted to our favorite apex predators. And who doesn’t have “Baby Shark” playing in their heads all day once they’ve heard it? But are we jumping the shark to discuss this topic in a dental blog?

Not at all! Because today, we’re going to talk about shark teeth—just not the ones you might be expecting.

One of the expected sights when a shark opens its mouth are those rows and rows of shiny shark teeth. Sharks can grow from two to 15 rows of teeth at any one time (and some sharks have even more). This means sharp new teeth are always ready to replace any shark tooth which is lost, broken, or worn out.

An unexpected sight? When children point to their new adult tooth or teeth coming in—right behind their still-firmly rooted baby teeth! This double set of teeth is called “shark teeth,” and, while it certainly might come as a surprise, it’s not all that uncommon. But why do children develop shark teeth at all?

After all, baby, or primary, teeth have small roots, and are designed to come out easily when the adult teeth start arriving. When a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it pushes against the root of the baby tooth above it. This pressure gradually dissolves the root of the primary tooth, and with nothing to anchor it, it’s now loose, wiggly, and ready to fall out. That’s why baby teeth often look like they have no roots at all when they eventually wiggle free.

Sometimes, though, the roots of a primary tooth don’t break down, which means baby teeth stay right where they are. It also means that the permanent teeth have to erupt somewhere else—usually behind those stubborn little baby teeth.

Shark teeth can first appear around the ages of five to seven when the permanent front teeth start arriving, or several years later, when the adult molars begin to come in. Any extra teeth in one small jaw naturally cause concerns about crowding and misalignment, especially when those extra teeth are molars. Fortunately, treatment is generally uncomplicated.

If the baby tooth is loose, time (and wiggling) might take care of the problem. But if the primary tooth or teeth just won’t budge, even after several weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes—especially if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort.

An extraction is often suggested when a baby tooth has overstayed its welcome. Because of its smaller root, extracting a primary tooth is usually a straightforward procedure. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can let you know all the details, and can discuss sedation options if they’re appropriate for your child.

Whether baby teeth are left to fall out on their own, or given some assistance, most often your child’s permanent tooth will start moving to its proper position as soon as the space is available.

Unlike sharks, we don’t have an endless supply of replacement teeth, so it’s understandable to worry when you see anything unexpected. If you want to know more about shark teeth, or if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call our Chicago office for expert advice.

Clean Toothbrush/Healthy Toothbrush

November 2nd, 2022

We’ve all learned a lot about staying healthy lately. As a parent, you give good advice about avoiding germs in public places, cleaning things that get touched a lot like phones and keyboards, and learning the best way to wash hands. These small daily habits can have a big effect on your child’s health.

And since you’re already taking care of your little one by making sure they brush at least twice a day, we have some good advice for small habits which can make their toothbrush even cleaner and brushing even healthier.

Brushing Habits

Don’t let germs hitch a ride on your child’s toothbrush before they even begin brushing! Make sure their hands are clean before they start, and rinse off the toothbrush before they put it in their mouth.

After brushing, be sure your child rinses their brush carefully to get rid of leftover toothpaste and bits of food. Also, clean the toothbrush holder regularly to get rid of germs and bacteria.

And while we’re talking about germs, how about . . .

  • Flushing Habits

Most toothbrushes live in the bathroom, where we also find—the toilet. Every time we flush, invisible bacteria and particles fly through the air. And while that might not make you sick, it’s still pretty gross. Closing the lid before you flush helps keep your family’s toothbrushes—and bathroom—cleaner.

  • Airing? Yes!

Keeping a toothbrush in a dark, wet environment is the perfect way to help bacteria grow. Instead of putting a wet toothbrush in a case, let it air dry standing heads up after use. Give it a shake first for a head start on drying out.

  • Sharing? No

We’re not talking about sharing a brush, which you would never do. We’re talking about sharing space. If your child’s brush touches other brushes in a toothbrush holder, it’s probably sharing germs. Toothbrushes shouldn’t be too close to other toothbrushes, no matter how close you are to the other brush’s owner!

Finally, no matter how well your child takes care of their toothbrush, there comes a time when you should let it go. After three or four months, bristles become frayed and worn out. This means the brush won’t remove plaque as well as it used to. And to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to replace a brush if your child has been sick.

Keeping your child’s teeth and mouth healthy is one very important way to keep their whole body heathy and happy. Talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at our Chicago office to learn more about simple habits for healthy teeth!

The Intriguing History of Halloween

October 26th, 2022

Halloween is fast approaching, and Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes wanted to be sure to wish our patients a happy day, no matter how you might celebrate this holiday. The Halloween that is familiar to most people today bears little resemblance to the original Halloween; back in the "old days" it wasn't even called Halloween!

Festival of the Dead

Halloween started out as a Celtic festival of the dead that honored departed loved ones and signified a change in the cycle of the seasons. The Celtic people viewed Halloween, then called "Samhain," as a very special day – almost like our New Years day in fact, as their new calendar year began on November 1st. Samhain was the last day of autumn, so it was the time to harvest the last of the season's crops, store food away for winter, and situate livestock comfortably for the upcoming cold weather. The Celts believed that during this day, the last day of winter, the veil between this world and the spirit world is the thinnest, and that the living could communicate with departed loved ones most effectively on Samhain due to this.

Modern Halloween

Halloween as we know it today started because Christian missionaries were working to convert the Celtic people to Christianity. The Celts believed in religious concepts that were not supported by the Christian church, and these practices, which stemmed from Druidism, were perceived by the Christian church as being "devil worship" and dangerous.

When Pope Gregory the First instructed his missionaries to work at converting the Pagan people, he told them to try to incorporate some of the Pagan practices into Christian practices in a limited way. This meant that November 1st became "All Saints Day," which allowed Pagan people to still celebrate a beloved holiday without violating Christian beliefs.

Today, Halloween has evolved into a day devoted purely to fun, candy, and kids. What a change from its origins! We encourage all of our patients to have fun during the holiday, but be safe with the treats. Consider giving apples or fruit roll-ups to the kids instead of candy that is potentially damaging to the teeth and gums.

Remind kids to limit their candy and brush after eating it! Sweets can cause major tooth decay and aggrivate gum disease, so to avoid extra visits to our Chicago office, make your Halloween a safe one!

What Are Chalky Teeth?

October 19th, 2022

You’ve always taken care of your child’s smile. You make sure thorough brushing and flossing take place twice a day. You serve foods high in vitamins and minerals and low in sugar. You make and keep regular dental appointments at our Chicago office. But even with the best dental routines, sometimes conditions can occur that will require additional professional care.

One of these conditions can affect your child’s enamel while the tooth is still forming. When baby teeth or adult teeth appear, you might notice white, creamy yellow, or brown spots in otherwise healthy-looking enamel. These spots are softer and rougher than normal hard, smooth enamel. Because of their texture and color, such teeth are often referred to as “chalky teeth,” but this condition is actually known as enamel hypomineralization.

What is hypomineralization?

Enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies—stronger even than bones. Enamel is largely composed of minerals. If something disrupts the process of enamel development in baby or adult teeth, the result can be abnormally low mineral content in the enamel. This leaves teeth weaker and more likely to suffer decay and damage.

Premature birth, low birth weight, and other pre-natal factors have been suggested as risk factors for hypomineralization in primary teeth enamel. Permanent teeth can be vulnerable to this condition as well. Adult teeth are forming in young children well before they make an appearance. It’s been suggested that certain early childhood factors, such as recurring high fevers, some diseases, even specific antibiotics, can interrupt the formation of the enamel and lead to hypomineralization of adult teeth.

What are the results of enamel hypomineralization?

Children with this condition are much more likely to experience rapid tooth decay because of their weaker, more porous enamel, especially in the molars. Further, they tend not to respond as well to the numbing effects of local dental anesthetics, while their teeth tend to be more sensitive to pain. Cases can be mild, moderate, or severe. In severe cases, teeth might require crowns or possibly extractions, but even mild discoloration and other cosmetic problems can lead to self-consciousness in your child.

How can we help?

Catching this condition early is very important. If your child has had any medical conditions that might affect tooth development, let Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes know even before that first tooth comes in. If you notice anything unusual about a new baby or adult tooth, give us a call. For primary or permanent teeth, the sooner we can begin treatment, the better the long-term outlook.

We might suggest fluoride applications or desensitizing treatments. We can apply sealants to reduce the risk of cavities, and use bonding to restore discolored or weak patches in the tooth. Both of these methods have greater success if the enamel near the affected area is in good condition, so early treatment is vital. If teeth require more protection, crowns are often the best choice. We will design a treatment program to suit your child’s individual needs now and for the future.

How can you help?

Dental hygiene is important for every child, but especially for a child with weak and porous enamel. Because children with hypomineralized enamel develop cavities more quickly that those with strong enamel, it is very important to watch your child’s diet and keep to a regular, careful, and thorough routine of brushing and flossing at home. Be attentive to any sensitivity problems, and be sure to follow any suggestions we might have for strengthening enamel.

Remember, early diagnosis and treatment is always best! If at any time you notice chalky patches, or have any other concerns about the appearance of your child’s teeth, if they seem to be causing your child pain or are unusually sensitive, call Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes immediately. We want to work with you to treat any current problems and to prevent new ones.

Tooth Eruption Timeline

October 12th, 2022

Parents, and even older children, can become concerned about tooth development. Wondering when teeth should erupt, and being concerned when the teeth do not appear on schedule, is common. First, you need to remember that each individual is different. Guidelines are just guidelines, but Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd thought we would pass on this information to help you.

Primary teeth

Children normally have 20 primary or baby teeth. The first two to appear are usually the lower central incisors between six to ten months of age. These fall out between five and seven years of age.

  • Two upper central incisors – eight to 12 months
  • Two upper lateral incisors – nine to 13 months
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 16 to 22 months
  • Two upper first molars – 13 to 19 months
  • Two upper second molars – 25 to 33 months
  • Two lower lateral incisors – ten to 16 months
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – 17 to 23 months
  • Two lower first molars – 14 to 18 months
  • Two lower second molars – 13 to 31 months

As you can see, all the primary teeth normally have erupted before three years of age, but the timeline can vary by four to six months. Except for the lower central incisors and second molars, upper teeth tend to appear before lower teeth.

Permanent or adult teeth

Adults normally have 32 permanent teeth. However, four of these are wisdom teeth or third molars, which are often removed.

  • Two upper central incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two upper lateral incisors – eight to nine years
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 11 to 12 years
  • Two upper first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 11 years
  • Two upper second premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two upper first molars – six to seven years
  • Two upper second molars – 12 to 13 years
  • Two upper third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years
  • Two lower central incisors – six to seven years
  • Two lower lateral incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – nine to ten years
  • Two lower first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two lower second premolars or bicuspids – 11 to 12 years
  • Two lower first molars – six to seven years
  • Two lower second molars – 11 to 13 years
  • Two lower third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years

Please discuss any of your dental concerns during your visit with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes. If there is a problem with tooth development, the earlier we address it, the better the outcome. We specialize in pediatric dentistry and look forward to helping you and your child with all your dental needs. To learn more about tooth eruption, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

Fall’s in the Air? Think Fall Dental Care

October 5th, 2022

Whether you already miss the sun’s bright rays, or can’t wait for some cool, crisp weather and colorful leaves, summer is making way for fall. And the change of seasons might mean it’s time for some adjustments to your dental care routine.

Fall’s in the Air, and You Can Feel It

You might enjoy the brisk weather and the cool autumn breezes, but you’d enjoy fall much more without the tooth sensitivity that cold weather can bring. Sensitivity can be the sign of a cracked tooth, gum disease, or even something as simple as too-energetic brushing. If you’re experiencing sensitivity outdoors or with hot and cold foods, don’t give up your nature walks and hot cider! Give Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes a call, and we’ll get to the root of your problem.

Fall Sports

The baseball mitts, surfboards, and water skis have been retired for the year, but that won’t stop you from enjoying exercise and team sports. And while you’re keeping your body healthy, remember to keep your teeth and jaws healthy as well. A mouth guard is an essential piece of equipment for any autumn contact sport like football or soccer, and is also a good idea for biking, skateboarding, and other physical activities where a fall or a collision is a possibility.

Fall Feasts

‘Tis the season for sugary Halloween treats, bountiful Thanksgiving desserts, and those over-the-top holiday lattes. By all means, celebrate the season. And celebrate your dental health (and your overall health) as well by enjoying these treats in moderation.

Why not take this opportunity to explore some of autumn’s more nutritious seasonal offerings? Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, and apples are part of a fall harvest of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and other nutrients that help keep our teeth and gums their healthiest. (And if the pumpkins and apples make their way into pies, no one will complain.)

Fall Semester

Many schools require a dental exam before the start of the academic year. If you haven’t made an appointment for your child, now’s the time to do it! And don’t forget a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar. Nothing starts a school year off better than entering the classroom with a bright, healthy smile.

And don’t forget to call our Chicago office for your own regular checkup if it’s that time of year. Spring, summer, winter, fall—it’s always the right season for taking care of your dental health!

How Our Office Makes Your Child’s Visit Anxiety-Free

September 28th, 2022

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd specialize in pediatric dentistry, and we understand that children can be frightened of things they do not understand. This anxiety is often heightened by an unpleasant dental experience or stories they hear from classmates. We have many methods at our Chicago office to make your child’s dental visit pleasant and anxiety-free.

Listening

The first thing Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team do is talk to your child, listen to any concerns he or she may have, and take the time to explain the dental work that will be done. Often children will lose their fears by simply understanding what is happening and why. In addition, you are welcome to be in the room with your child during exams and treatments. When a child is able to see that the parent is relaxed, this is more conducive to the child’s relaxation.

Relaxation

When you arrive at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, let your child to play with the toys we provide. This starts the visit in a positive manner. Taking your child’s mind off the exam is useful. While your child is undergoing an examination or procedure, listening to music or watching a video can support a sense of relaxation. When children understand that we care, their anxiety levels are reduced.

Sedation

Nitrous oxide is a sedation technique commonly used to reduce anxiety and alleviate any pain. It is beneficial partly because the effects wear off quickly. Topical pain relievers can also be useful for children with sensitive teeth, and this will eliminate discomfort.

Deeper sedation is useful for complex dental issues, extreme anxiety, or a fear of needles. A liquid or tablet sedative can be given before your child’s appointment. This type of sedation is also helpful for children with a fear of the masks used for nitrous oxide.

We welcome you and your child to discuss any concerns that you have regarding his or her dental appointment. We want your child to be free from anxiety about visiting Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes. The earlier your child’s fears are addressed, the less likely the fear will carry into adulthood.

Make Tooth Brushing Fun

September 21st, 2022

The best brushing routine for parent and child is two minutes of gentle brushing in the morning and two in the evening. But if the longest four minutes of your day are spent helping your child brush and floss, here are some suggestions for making that time fly.

Options!

Children’s brushes come in a wonderful variety of colors, patterns, and shapes. Allow your child to choose a favorite the next time you go shopping for dental supplies. Just make sure to choose a soft bristle brush with a head designed for small mouths. And since toothbrushes generally wear out after three months, your child will have plenty of opportunities to pick and choose! You might also explore the many flavors of children’s toothpaste to find the one that your child finds most appealing, and let your young brusher squeeze out a dab on that new brush.

Reward Daily Brushing

You don’t have to go to great lengths to make your son or daughter feel rewarded for a job well done. Allowing children to pick out a story for you to read or posting colorful stickers on a calendar sheet will encourage them to get into the habit of brushing.

Two-Minute Countdown

Time seems to go faster when we’re having fun. Your child might enjoy listening to songs or stories for the two minutes of brushing time. You can make your own playlist, invent a story starring your child, or make use of one of the dental apps that offer children’s music, videos, and stories in perfect two-minute segments.

Do It Together

Spend these two minutes twice a day with your child. You will be doing all the brushing at first, of course, but as your children get older, brush your teeth along with them. You can model proper brushing techniques for cleaning teeth, gums and tongue, and even let your child have a chance to brush your teeth for a change.

Don’t Forget Checkups!

Scheduling checkups and professional cleanings at our Chicago office is vital to maintaining your child’s oral health. And, if your son or daughter is keeping up with good hygiene at home, these visits should be a breeze!

The habits your child develops now will be the foundation for a lifetime of oral health. Make these four minutes a day count. And if you can create ways to make them fun, those four minutes will fly by for both of you!

Infant Teething Remedies: What Might Help—And What to Avoid

September 14th, 2022

Some lucky babies wake one morning displaying a brand new tooth to the complete surprise of their unsuspecting parents! But your happy baby is irritable and drooling. Or your hearty eater doesn’t feel like finishing her food. Perhaps she finds it hard to go to sleep when she’s usually nodded off before you finish the first lullaby. A small number of children suffer little or no discomfort teething, but for the majority of babies who do, here are some helpful ways to ease their teething pain.

  • Massage--Rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger or piece of gauze—gentle pressure is all you need. And do be careful of your fingers once those teeth start coming in!
  • Chewing—there are many colorful and easy to grasp teething toys available, including BPA-free models.
  • Cool Relief—Cool a solid teether in the refrigerator to help ease discomfort. Placing a teething ring in the freezer is not recommended, as extreme cold can be damaging to little mouths and gums.
  • Comfort Food—If your baby is eating solid foods, try cold applesauce or other purees.
  • Skin Care—Drooling is often part of the teething process, but try to keep your child’s face free from rash and chaffing by wiping with a clean cloth when necessary.

And while you are trying to keep your baby comfortable, also be sure to keep her safe!

  • Know what your baby is putting into her mouth. All teething items should be non-toxic and free of harmful chemicals. Teethers filled with fluids may break or leak, so a solid toy is best.
  • Make teething items size-appropriate. Avoid anything small or breakable that might present a choking hazard.
  • Over-the-counter gels and liquids containing benzocaine, meant to reduce pain in the gums and mouth, may on rare occasion lead to serious health conditions in small children. Always check with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes or your pediatrician before buying an over-the-counter teething medication for your baby.

For many babies, teething can be a long and sometimes difficult process. If there is anything we can do to help you and your baby in this journey, please give our Chicago office a call.

September is National Childhood Injury Prevention Month!

September 7th, 2022

September is National Childhood Injury Prevention Month, and Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd are excited to share some tips to keep your child safe. Childhood is a time when dental injuries are common. Even a simple fall on the playground at recess can lead to a lost or broken tooth. What can you do as a parent to protect your child’s teeth in addition to his or her head and bones? These tips will help you prevent mouth and dental injuries to your kids.

First, use common sense when your children play sports. An estimated 13 to 39 percent of oral-facial injuries occur when children are playing sports. Make sure your child wears a face guard, mouthguard, and helmet as appropriate. Contact sports, such as football, require this gear, so insist that it gets worn.

Next, teach your children not to walk or run with things in their mouths. This is particularly difficult for toddlers and preschoolers, who love to explore the world orally. Insist that items are removed from the mouth whenever the child is in motion, and try to redirect the child to softer items for oral stimulation.

For small children, be careful when you put a spoon or fork in the mouth. While this won’t damage teeth, it can damage the delicate skin between the lips and gums or under the tongue. Allow your child to direct his or her own feeding; never shove a spoon in your child’s mouth if he or she is not interested, to avoid this type of injury.

Finally, make sure your children are seen regularly by Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes. Regular dental checkups will keep the teeth clean, strong, and healthy, and limit the risk of injuries.

If your child is injured in spite of your best efforts, contact our Chicago office right away. Quick action may be able to save a missing tooth, and a quick response on your part will limit the long-term effects of the injury.

Labor Day: Our favorite holiday to rest!

August 31st, 2022

Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday each September here in the United States, is a holiday devoted to the American working community. The purpose of the holiday is honoring the country's workers and their contributions to the strength of our country as a whole.

How Labor Day Started

There is actually some debate as to the origins of Labor Day. It is uncertain whether Peter McGuire, a cofounder for the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, who was the secretary of Central Labor Union of New York, had the great idea. However, the Central Labor Union's plans were what launched the first Labor Day in America.

The First Labor Day

The very first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5th, 1882. The Central Labor Union then held annual celebrations on September 5th for what they called a working man's holiday. By the year 1885, the Labor Day celebration had spread to many different industrial areas, and after that it began spreading to all industries in the United States.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day today is a huge United States holiday during which we honor the country's workers with a day of rest and relaxation or a day of picnics and parades. This holiday is truly one to honor the many people who work hard to contribute to the economic well-being of our great country!

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd hopes all of our patients celebrate Labor Day, and every holiday, safely and happily. Whether you stay in the Chicago area, or travel out of town, have fun, and don't forget to brush!

What are dental sealants and how do they work?

August 24th, 2022

A dental sealant is a liquid that is applied to the teeth. The sealant hardens and provides a protective coating that is designed to reduce cavities and create a smoother tooth surface. Dental sealants are clear or white; they do not take away from the appearance of teeth. You can think about this treatment as being similar to varnish that protects a wood floor.

Sealants are not the same as fluoride treatments. The application is similar, but sealants are a semi-permanent protective coating. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our staff recommend that sealant applications for children begin soon after molars erupt, first molars around the age of six, and second molars around the age of 12.

Simple Application

Having sealants applied is not uncomfortable at all. First, your child's teeth will be cleaned and dried. A gel is applied, which helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, and then is rinsed away. Your child's teeth are dried again and the sealant is applied. A few seconds of exposure to a light source may be used to cure the sealant and make it semi-permanent. Sealants should last for a long time, normally between five and ten years.

Sealant Benefits

The coating on the surface of your child's teeth reduces the amount of acid contact. Normal acids in foods that are consumed can eat away at the surface of teeth. Bacteria also react to plaque formation and create more acid in the mouth. These small pits or weakened areas are prone to caries or cavity formation. Preventing cavities is a much better choice than drilling and filling damaged teeth.

A sealant also helps to smooth the chewing surfaces of your childn't teeth. The smoother surface is not as likely to retain small particles of food and bacteria. Your child's mouth stays cleaner and food is not left behind to form acids. The protective application can also be used on other teeth that have a rough surface, to protect the grooves or pits from decay.

After the sealant is applied, your child still needs to take proper care of his or her teeth. Regular brushing and flossing is required. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes may recommend fluoride treatments to strengthen and protect your child's teeth further.

If you have any concerns about sealants, please discuss them with during your child's next appointment at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd. We want your little one's teeth to stay healthy for life.

Dental X-rays: The Inside Story

August 17th, 2022

Pediatric dentists strive to make your children’s visits welcoming and worry-free, and, we want the same for you! Ask us about any questions you might have. We are happy to explain procedures, equipment, and sedation options so you know just how safe and comfortable your child’s experience can be. And if X-rays are a concern, we can put your mind at ease here as well.

What Exactly Are X-rays?

Sometimes parents feel reluctant about the process of imaging because X-rays are a kind of radiation. But the fact is, radiation is all around us. We are exposed to radiation naturally from our soil and water, sun and air, as well as from modern inventions such as cell phones, Wi-Fi, and air travel.

Why is radiation so common? Because matter throughout the universe constantly gives off energy, and the energy that is emitted is termed radiation. This radiation takes two forms—as particles (which we don’t need to consider!) and as traveling rays. This second type is known as electromagnetic radiation, created by photons traveling in regular waves at the speed of light.

We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation every day, because, whether we can see them or not, these different wavelengths and frequencies create various forms of light. Radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays are all part of the electromagnetic light spectrum.

Different types of radiation on this spectrum have different wavelengths and different frequencies, and produce different amounts of energy. Longer wavelengths mean lower frequencies and less energy. Because X-rays have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies than, for example, radio waves and visible light, they have more energy.

How Do Dental X-rays Work?

An X-ray machine produces a very narrow beam of X-ray photons. This beam passes through the body and captures images of our teeth and jaws on special film or digital sensors inside the mouth (intraoral X-rays), or on film or sensors located outside the mouth (extraoral X-rays). These X-ray images are also known as radiographs.

Why are X-rays able to take pictures inside our bodies? Remember that higher energy we talked about earlier? This energy enables X-rays to pass through the softer, less dense parts of our bodies, which are seen as gray background in a radiograph. But some substances in our bodies absorb X-rays, such as the calcium found in our bones and teeth. This is why they show up as sharp white images in radiographs. 

There are different types of common dental X-rays which are used for pediatric exams, including:

  • Bitewing X-rays, which are used to check on the health of the back teeth.
  • Periapical X-rays, which allow us to look at one or two specific teeth from crown to root.
  • Panoramic X-rays, which use a special machine to rotate around the head to create a complete two-dimensional picture of teeth and jaws.

Why Do We Need X-rays?

If all of our dental conditions were visible on the surface, there would be no need for X-rays. But there are many conditions that can only be discovered with the use of imaging—infection, decay, or injuries, for example, can show up as darker areas in the teeth or jaws. Among their many diagnostic uses, X-rays can help us find:

  • Cavities between teeth
  • Damage to the tooth’s pulp which might require root canal treatment
  • Injuries to teeth or roots after trauma
  • Abscesses, tumors, or other conditions that might be causing swelling or pain
  • Unusual position or development of the teeth before and as they erupt
  • Alignment and development of wisdom teeth

X-rays can also serve an important preventative role, by discovering small problems before they become major ones.

How Do Dentists Make Sure Your Child’s X-rays Are as Safe as They Can Be?

First of all, the amount of radiation patients are exposed to with a dental X-ray is very small. In fact, a set of bitewing X-rays exposes us to slightly less than the amount of radiation we are exposed to through our natural surroundings in just one day. Even so, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team are committed to making sure young patients are exposed to as little radiation as possible.

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging have been designed to make sure all patients have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. We ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • We set exposure times based on each child’s size and age.

X-rays play an important part in helping us make sure your child’s teeth stay their healthiest. If you have any concerns, contact our Chicago office. When it comes to making sure you’re comfortable with all of our procedures, including any X-rays that might be necessary, we’re happy to give you all the inside information!

When should I begin brushing my baby's teeth?

August 10th, 2022

One question our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd hear all the time is, “When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?”

You should begin regular cleanings even before your baby has teeth. After each breast feeding (or bottle-feeding) use a clean, damp washcloth to gently rub your baby’s gum tissue. You may wrap the material around one finger to make it easier to remove any food bits from your baby’s mouth.

When your baby’s first tooth comes in, switch to a baby toothbrush. Look for special baby toothbrushes in your drugstore; they have just a few bristles and are very soft. There are even brushes shaped like finger puppets that fit over the tip of your pointer finger! All you need at this point is water (no toothpaste yet).

After a few more teeth appear, you may start using toothpaste, but you only need a tiny bit, and make sure it doesn’t contain fluoride for the first two years. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing. That way, he or she will already have the good habit of spitting when you switch to fluoride toothpaste, which should never be swallowed.

If you have any questions about caring for your baby’s teeth, or to schedule an appointment at our convenient Chicago office, please contact Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd.

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

August 3rd, 2022

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Chicago office.

Your Toddler’s First Dental Visit

July 27th, 2022

It’s common for toddlers to be wary of strangers, but their first experience at the dentist shouldn’t be a scary one. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team have five tips for you to make your child’s first visit to Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd easy as pie!

  1. Bringing your child to one of your own appointments before his or her first dental visit can calm your little one’s nerves. This gives your son or daughter the opportunity to get familiar with our office and see a cleaning isn’t very scary.
  2. Our big dental chair can be fun! Toddlers love games, and seeing the chair go up and down can make it seem like an amusement ride rather than sitting down for an exam.
  3. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team hand out cool toothbrushes and stickers to kids after their appointment. Your child will love the fun-colored toothbrush and can look forward to a post-appointment prize at the next visit.
  4. Schedule your appointment for a time that sets you up for success. Bringing your child to our Chicago office an hour before he or she is due for a nap may be a tantrum just waiting to happen.
  5. Kids love books! Try reading your toddler bedtime stories about what happens at the dentist before you come in for the appointment. We recommend Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile, written by Christine Ricci.

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my child use?

July 20th, 2022

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team know that as a parent, you want your child to be as healthy as possible. By now, you probably know that your son or daughter’s oral health plays a huge role in overall health.

When there are so many toothpaste ads and different styles of brush to choose from, it can be difficult to know which will serve your child the best. We recommend you break down the decision process to make it simpler.

First, your child’s age and stage of development are vital to consider. Until about the age or 12, your youngster may not be prepared to brush or floss adequately alone, due to dexterity issues. If that’s the case, it can be easier to use a battery-powered toothbrush to improve the quality of brushing.

Next is to select the right size of toothbrush head to fit your child’s mouth. As a general rule, the head of the toothbrush should be a little larger than the upper portion of the child’s thumb.

Flossers are great for children and easy to use. They have handles and a horseshoe shape on one end with floss in between. Your child can choose a color he or she likes as well as the handle size, shape, etc.

Not only are there many brands of toothpaste to choose from, there are also many different ingredients that offer varying benefits. Kids are at high risk for developing cavities so you want to make sure the following ingredients are in your child’s toothpaste if you wish to avoid problems later on.

Sodium fluoride is the standard ingredient for cavity prevention, while stannous fluoride is anti-bacterial and anti-cavity. Anti-sensitivity toothpastes often contain potassium nitrate, and triclosan can be found in one particular brand for anti-bacterial action.

Fluoride should not be ingested, so if your child can’t spit yet, use a toothpaste that contains xylitol. This is a natural sweetener and should be the first ingredient listed on the tube.

Now comes the fun part: choosing a flavor! Your little one may sample different flavors and select the one he or she likes the best. A youngster is more likely to adopt good brushing habits if the flavor is appealing.

Don’t hesitate to speak with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes if you need to make an appointment at our Chicago office, or if you have any questions about toothpastes or toothbrushes.

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my child use?

July 20th, 2022

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team know that as a parent, you want your child to be as healthy as possible. By now, you probably know that your son or daughter’s oral health plays a huge role in overall health.

When there are so many toothpaste ads and different styles of brush to choose from, it can be difficult to know which will serve your child the best. We recommend you break down the decision process to make it simpler.

First, your child’s age and stage of development are vital to consider. Until about the age or 12, your youngster may not be prepared to brush or floss adequately alone, due to dexterity issues. If that’s the case, it can be easier to use a battery-powered toothbrush to improve the quality of brushing.

Next is to select the right size of toothbrush head to fit your child’s mouth. As a general rule, the head of the toothbrush should be a little larger than the upper portion of the child’s thumb.

Flossers are great for children and easy to use. They have handles and a horseshoe shape on one end with floss in between. Your child can choose a color he or she likes as well as the handle size, shape, etc.

Not only are there many brands of toothpaste to choose from, there are also many different ingredients that offer varying benefits. Kids are at high risk for developing cavities so you want to make sure the following ingredients are in your child’s toothpaste if you wish to avoid problems later on.

Sodium fluoride is the standard ingredient for cavity prevention, while stannous fluoride is anti-bacterial and anti-cavity. Anti-sensitivity toothpastes often contain potassium nitrate, and triclosan can be found in one particular brand for anti-bacterial action.

Fluoride should not be ingested, so if your child can’t spit yet, use a toothpaste that contains xylitol. This is a natural sweetener and should be the first ingredient listed on the tube.

Now comes the fun part: choosing a flavor! Your little one may sample different flavors and select the one he or she likes the best. A youngster is more likely to adopt good brushing habits if the flavor is appealing.

Don’t hesitate to speak with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes if you need to make an appointment at our Chicago office, or if you have any questions about toothpastes or toothbrushes.

The Best Snacks for a Healthy Smile

July 13th, 2022

One of the most frequent questions that Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team hear is about what kinds of snacks are best for a child’s dental health. Sugary snacks are inevitable sometimes, but it’s vital for you as a parent to monitor how frequently your child is eating the kinds of snacks that may give him or her a cavity or two down the line.

Unsurprisingly, the best snacks are healthy ones, though they may not always be the most appealing to your little ones. The good news is that healthy doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste. Once your kids give these tasty snacks a go, they might become open to all things healthy!

  • Fresh veggies and hummus
  • Apple wedges with peanut butter
  • Low-fat yogurt with berries
  • Cubes of cheese and crackers
  • Hard-boiled eggs with a little bit of salt and pepper
  • Celery sticks with cream cheese and sunflower seeds
  • A homemade milkshake with low-fat milk (or almond milk), the fruit of their choice, chia seeds, and cinnamon
  • Lean proteins such as chicken breast, fish, and turkey

These snacks aren’t high in sugar but they contain all the nutrients your children need to have the necessary energy throughout the day.

This is only a sample of all the great, healthy snacks out there for your kids. For more ideas, ask us the next time you visit our Chicago office. It’s never too early to create healthy habits; they’re not only good for oral health, but overall health too. That’s a win-win, if you ask us.

The Best Snacks for a Healthy Smile

July 13th, 2022

One of the most frequent questions that Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team hear is about what kinds of snacks are best for a child’s dental health. Sugary snacks are inevitable sometimes, but it’s vital for you as a parent to monitor how frequently your child is eating the kinds of snacks that may give him or her a cavity or two down the line.

Unsurprisingly, the best snacks are healthy ones, though they may not always be the most appealing to your little ones. The good news is that healthy doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste. Once your kids give these tasty snacks a go, they might become open to all things healthy!

  • Fresh veggies and hummus
  • Apple wedges with peanut butter
  • Low-fat yogurt with berries
  • Cubes of cheese and crackers
  • Hard-boiled eggs with a little bit of salt and pepper
  • Celery sticks with cream cheese and sunflower seeds
  • A homemade milkshake with low-fat milk (or almond milk), the fruit of their choice, chia seeds, and cinnamon
  • Lean proteins such as chicken breast, fish, and turkey

These snacks aren’t high in sugar but they contain all the nutrients your children need to have the necessary energy throughout the day.

This is only a sample of all the great, healthy snacks out there for your kids. For more ideas, ask us the next time you visit our Chicago office. It’s never too early to create healthy habits; they’re not only good for oral health, but overall health too. That’s a win-win, if you ask us.

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Chicago office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Chicago office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Chicago office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Chicago office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Chicago office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Happy Fourth of July

June 29th, 2022

Every year, Americans all over the world celebrate the birth of the country and its independence on the Fourth of July. There are countless ways that people celebrate and they range from community parades and large scale gatherings to concerts, fireworks displays, and smaller scale celebrations among family and friends. For some people, July 4th is synonymous with baseball, while for others it is all about the beach of barbecues. However you celebrate, you can be sure that red, white, and blue is visible everywhere throughout the area.

The Beginnings of Fourth of July Celebrations

Although it wasn't officially designated as a federal holiday until 1941, the actual tradition of celebrating Independence Day goes back to the time of the American Revolution (1775 – 1783). At the time of the American Revolution, representatives from the 13 colonies penned the resolution that ultimately declared their independence from Great Britain. The continental congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd of 1776. Two days later, Thomas Jefferson's famous document that is now known as the Declaration of Independence, was adopted by delegates representing the 13 colonies.

First States to Recognize the Fourth of July

In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state (or commonwealth) whose legislature resolved to designate July 4th as the date on which to celebrate the country's independence. Two years later, Boston became the first city to make an official designation to honor the country's birth with a holiday on July 4th. In that same year, North Carolina's governor, Alexander Martin, became the first governor to issue an official state order stipulating that July 4th was the day on which North Carolinians would celebrate the country's independence.

Fun Facts About the Fourth of July

  • The reason the stars on the original flag were arranged in a circle is because it was believed that would indicate that all of the colonies were equal.
  • Americans eat over 150 million hot dogs on July 4th.
  • Imports of fireworks each year totals over $211 million.
  • The first “official” Fourth of July party took place at the White House in 1801.
  • Benjamin Franklin didn't want the national bird to be the bald eagle. He believed that the turkey was better suited to the coveted distinction. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed with him, and he was outvoted, so the bald eagle became the official bird of the United States.

For many, the tradition is something entirely different. Along the coastal areas of the United States, people may haul out huge pots to have lobster or other types of seafood boils. Others may spend the day in the bleachers at a baseball game, or at a park, cooking a great traditional meal over an open fire. No matter how or where you celebrate, one thing is certain: all Americans celebrate July 4th as the birth and independence of our country.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July!

My child has autism. What should we expect at your office?

June 22nd, 2022

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we know that as many as one in 88 children today have some form of autism, a complex brain disorder that affects a child's ability to communicate or form relationships, and makes a child appear distant, aloof, or detached from other people or surroundings. Autism varies widely in symptoms and severity, and some people have coexisting conditions such as intellectual disability or even epilepsy.

That is why Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team are specially trained to provide dental care to the entire special needs community, including autistic children. We know that a visit to the dentist with an autistic child can be difficult. In addition to the common fears associated with strangers, there are also unfamiliar sounds, sensations, bright lights, and tastes with which your child may not be comfortable. We work with parents to make sure visiting the dentist is not so traumatic for our autistic patients.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team also know that patients with autism may be more interested in equipment and instruments than in us. We show our patients every piece of equipment we are going to use in a way that they can understand. We also allow a patient to sit in a parent's lap in the open bay if he or she is not feeling at ease. We want your child to enjoy getting to know us and to be comfortable while under our care.

A pleasant, comfortable visit at our Chicago office builds trust and helps put your child at ease for future appointments. Before a visit, we ask parents or guardians to bring their child's favorite toy, comfort item, music, or other coping device their child requires. We have a caring and compassionate team and know how to help autistic children acclimate themselves to a dental environment. We may not get everything done at the first visit, but we are able to schedule several appointments so that your child can get used to our office, the dentist, instruments, and our staff.

Children, especially those afflicted with autism, are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd genuinely cares for our patients beyond their teeth, and are more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have, as well as answer questions about your child's ongoing dental treatment. Please give us a call to learn more or schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

June is National Smile Month: Show off your smile!

June 1st, 2022

The community health awareness group Oral Health America has reported that 82 percent of adults are unaware of the role that infectious bacteria can play in tooth decay or cavities, and almost three out of five children aged 12 to 19 have tooth decay. Since June is National Smile Month, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd thought we’d remind our patients about the importance of good oral hygiene visits between office visits.

To keep your family’s smiles healthy and beautiful for years to come, be sure to:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between your teeth
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes for scheduled appointments

If you want to know more about healthy home care habits, feel free to ask our team at your next appointment, or ask us on Facebook!

Memorial Day

May 25th, 2022

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag then lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and then raising it once again to its full height afterwards. The flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From community parades in the Chicago area, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, Memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

How do you accommodate a child with special needs?

May 18th, 2022

Providing dental care for patients with special needs can be a challenge at times, both for the dentist and the family of the individual. Fortunately, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd have the experience needed to provide optimal care for your special-needs child. Here are just a few of the ways our office works to help those who need a little extra care.

Assistance with at-home dental health care

We understand that sometimes at-home dental care can be extremely difficult for those with special needs. Individuals with physical difficulties, which may prevent them from holding the toothbrush, and those with developmental issues, who may have difficulty understanding the importance of dental hygiene, need extra attention with regard to home hygiene care. Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd can provide support and education to ensure your child will achieve and maintain a healthy smile. For example, devising improvised toothbrushes to help patients get a properly grip, creating a specialized meal plan, and establishing a more frequent office visitation schedule to monitor overall dental health are all areas where our office is happy to help.

Coordinating office care

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team understand that sometimes special-needs patients feel anxiety when it comes to receiving dental care. In many cases, reliably seeing the same dental health professionals can help to promote a relationship and soothe the patient. We encourage special-needs patients to make appointments at the optimal time of day for them to help everything go smoothly as well. We also encourage preparing your child in advance of the appointment so he or she is not surprised in the office. In certain situations, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes may also recommend sedation dentistry. Occasionally, special-needs patients are too overwhelmed by the thought of dental care and exams are best performed with the support of light sedation.

Accommodating physical needs

We also understand that special needs patients sometimes need physical accommodations. Two of the more common examples we face are patients in wheelchairs who need access to the office. We are fully compliant with all accessibility regulations to make sure our patients receive the care they need. Other patients need physical props for their mouth to help keep it open if they are physically unable to do so.

Dental care for patients with special needs requires knowledge and experience of limitations and how to address them. In our Chicago office, you will find an accommodating staff ready to help, so your child can receive optimal dental care.

Dental Emergencies while Traveling

May 11th, 2022

You’ve planned your dream vacation. Your reservations are made. You’re packed and ready. You’ve even scheduled a dental checkup at our Chicago office to make sure you catch any potential problems, have finished any major work, and have an up-to-date chart.

But things don’t always go according to even the best of plans. So, what to do if you find you have a dental emergency while traveling? Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team have some recommendations for problems that might arise.

  • Toothache—Rinse your mouth with warm water and use dental floss to remove any food particles. Never put aspirin directly on a tooth or gum tissue. If the pain persists, call a dentist.
  • Cracked or broken tooth—Immediately rinse with warm water to clean the area and apply cold compresses to the face to minimize swelling. Get in touch with a dentist.
  • If you lose a tooth—Keep the tooth moist at all times. Put the tooth back in the socket without touching the root if possible. If that is not an option, place the tooth between the cheek and gums or in milk. See a dentist as soon as possible.

Know where to get help if you need it! If you are traveling in the United States, the American Dental Association offers Find-a-Dentist, a website that can locate a member dentist closest to you. If you are traveling to another country, there are steps you can take to prepare for an emergency.

  • If you are out of the country and need to locate a dentist, your local embassy or consulate, your hotel concierge, or friends abroad can be a useful resource.
  • Before you go, check your insurance to see if you are covered while traveling.
  • If you have travel insurance, find out if it covers dental treatment and can provide information on qualified local dentists and translation help, if necessary.
  • Good dental care is available in many areas internationally, but it is important to know what standards are present in the countries you plan to visit. The Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures offers a checklist for safe treatment in their “Traveler’s Guide to Safe Dental Care.”

If you have any questions, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team are happy to do all we can to answer them. While it’s unlikely that problems will arise, we are always available if you need to contact our Chicago office. Bon voyage, and we look forward to hearing about your trip!

May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month!

May 5th, 2022

The month of May has the unique distinction of being National Teen Self-Esteem Month. What does that mean?

National Teen Self-Esteem Month was created to raise public awareness about how low self-esteem can negatively affect teens. Especially during May, parents and guardians of teens are asked to be positive role models. If teens can receive positive re-enforcement and their negative images of themselves are improved, then their self-esteem has a better chance of developing in a positive direction.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd know there are a lot of young adults living in America are struggling with depressed self-images. These can affect all aspects of their everyday lives. Some evidence shows learning abilities and increased risk of eating disorders can originate in a teen’s low self-esteem. It can also lead to abuse of drugs and thoughts of suicide. Dating violence among high school teens is now more common than previously thought.

What can be done to help?

So what can adults do specifically to help their teens? The National Teen Self-Esteem Facebook page offers a variety of suggestions and positive messages for teens and parents alike. Of all the pages your teen “likes” on social media, perhaps he or she should include this page. Some of the tips offered include:

  1. When you stumble, get right back up.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Do things that make you feel good about yourself.
  4. Open yourself up to compliments.

Another great way to build self-esteem is to have a beautiful, health smile, and that’s where our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd come in! Whether your teen is due for a simple cleaning, could benefit from cosmetic treatments, or needs orthodontic care, we can help bestow a confident smile he or she will be proud to show off.

Overall, a more positive approach to life will help us all. It is a very important trait to instill in our teens. As parents, a big part of our responsibility is to show our children there is always another day and bumps in the road are just that. We need to help guide their self-esteem and reinforce their positive traits. We can help them recognize the value of who they are.

We should make our children’s self esteem a priority — not just in May, but throughout the year. Let National Teen Self-Esteem Month serve as the impetus for new levels of self-esteem.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

Periodontal Disease in Adolescents

April 28th, 2022

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd know that periodontal disease isn't something exclusive to adults. It can affect adolescents as well. Gingivitis, which is a milder form of periodontitis, is a form of periodontal disease, and a warning that more serious problems may arise. Untreated gingivitis can develop into full-blown periodontitis.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) explains that research proves that younger people may develop more severe forms of gingivitis. Gingivitis is linked to periodontal disease. Children and adolescents who have type 1 diabetes or immune deficiencies are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease.

There are three types of periodontal diseases Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team see in children and adolescents.

Chronic gingivitis

Parents may suspect that their adolescent has chronic gingivitis if he or she shows or complains of symptoms such as redness, swelling, or bleeding gums. Early treatment may prevent gingivitis from developing into a more severe form of periodontal disease.

Aggressive and/or chronic periodontitis

Once called adult periodontitis, the term chronic replaces “adult” because periodontitis can occur in people in their early teenage years, and progress throughout their teens. Chronic and aggressive periodontitis primarily affects incisors and first molars. One of its distinguishing characteristics is bone loss. Curiously, patients who suffer from this form of the disease have minimal dental plaque on examination.

Generalized aggressive and chronic periodontal disease

This form of periodontal disease has many of the same characteristics of the chronic and aggressive form, but this more severe type of the disease affects the entire mouth. Symptoms include major plaque and calculus accumulation, and inflamed gums.

In both forms of more severe periodontal disease, the overall gum structure may change. The severity of these changes may alter gum strength enough to loosen teeth, or even worse, cause them to fall out.

The success of any treatment is largely contingent on early diagnosis. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes should conduct a thorough periodontal exam as part of an adolescent’s twice-yearly complete dental examinations.

The mouth is full of bacteria. Some of it is necessary for food digestion. Diseases are more likely to develop if bacteria travel to open places in the mouth, such as exposed gum pockets or cavities. Proper dental hygiene is essential for a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth offers greater protection against painful dental diseases.

Be sure every member of your family has a complete dental exam and cleaning twice a year, and contact Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes when you or your young kids or adolescents complain of pain, sensitivity, or other oral problems. Early detection at our Chicago office leads to treatment of oral problems and prevents them from turning into serious periodontal disease and potentially irreversible problems.

What Are Dental Sealants?

April 27th, 2022

You’re constantly playing defense. Your child spends two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night carefully brushing and flossing with a fluoride toothpaste. You make sure sugary and acidic foods are not a major part of your diets. Your child visits our Chicago office for regular exams and cleanings. Really, how can a cavity get past all that?

But even with the best defensive practices, you don’t have a level playing field—literally. The tops of our molars and premolars don’t have the smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces that our other teeth have. If you look at the chewing surfaces, you will notice deep grooves which toothbrush bristles have a much harder time reaching.  

Plaque and food particles can become trapped in these grooves (known as pits and fissures), providing perfect conditions for a cavity to develop. That is why cavities are so common in newly erupted molars. Dental sealants protect these teeth from cavities by providing a barrier which smooths out the surface of the tooth and prevents food and bacteria from reaching the molar’s crevices.

Most sealants are invisible plastic resin coatings which we apply in our Chicago office. Usually the procedure is so quick and easy that no dental anesthetic is required. Each tooth will be examined first. If we find any signs of early decay, we will gently treat that area before beginning.

When the tooth is ready, it will be cleaned and dried. An etching solution will be brushed on to the dry surface to roughen the area a bit so that the sealant will hold to the tooth more effectively. A thin coat of the sealant is then painted on and hardened under a curing light. And that’s it!

Once teeth are sealed, they should be cleaned and flossed just as carefully as before. Regular exams and cleanings are still very important, and we can monitor the condition of the sealant and the sealed teeth. Properly applied, sealants can last from three to five years, or even longer.

Who should consider sealants? Sealants are typically recommended when the permanent molars first erupt. Children’s enamel takes a while to become its strongest, and so these just-erupted teeth are more at risk for cavities. Sometimes Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will recommend sealants for primary (baby) teeth if needed. But even adults can benefit—talk to us if you are interested and we will let you know if sealants might be right for you.

Sealants are a simple, safe, and minimally invasive way to prevent cavities. Studies of sealed molars and premolars show a dramatic reduction in cavities compared to untreated teeth. Sealants are one of the most effective ways to defend your teeth or your children’s teeth from tooth decay. And as we’ve all heard—defense wins championships!

Earth Day

April 21st, 2022

The idea for Earth Day was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin. He envisioned an Earth Day that would be a kind of environmental teach-in. The first Earth Day celebration took place on April 22, 1970, and a surprising 20 million people participated on that day. Ultimately, it became the largest organized celebration in US history.

Earth Day Over the Years

Over the years, the recognition of the day, and the number of people celebrating it all over the world, turned Earth Day into an international celebration. Because it is celebrated throughout the world, it is not only the largest international environmental observation, but it is also more widely celebrated than any other environmental event in the world. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in 175 countries where over 500 million people participate in celebrations.

The Earth Day Movement

The Earth Day movement is credited with developing the idea that people should “think green”. It encouraged congress to enact laws, including one that resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It also inspired the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

The Five R's and Their Importance

  • Reduce – Reduce by avoiding unnecessary purchases. Reduce your use of materials that wind up in landfills. Reduce the use of chemicals around your house. Reduce your use of disposable bags, plates, cups, eating utensils, and batteries.
  • Reuse – Instead of using plastic bags for your groceries or purchases, bring your own reusable bags. When you go to buy coffee at Starbucks, take a travel mug so you don't have to get your coffee in a disposable paper cup. Instead of storing food in disposable refrigerator containers, buy containers that can be washed and reused. Don't use regular batteries. Whenever possible, opt for rechargeable batteries that you can reuse.
  • Recycle – Most cities offer a recycling program to collect used bottles, cans, and newspapers. Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers and manufacturing raw materials into new products.
  • Re-buy – Make an effort to purchase things that are made through recycling. When purchasing furniture, look for items that are made from reclaimed wood. When buying paper for kids school work, computer printer paper, holiday cards, or anything else, make a point of purchasing recycled paper products. Instead of buying clothing at full retail price, shop for second hand clothing. You will save a lot of money by doing so!
  • Rethink – Rethink the way you do things so that you do them in an eco-conscious way at all times. Instead of driving to work alone, consider taking the bus or going in a carpool. Walk or ride your bike when you're only going a short distance. Plan your shopping trips and errand runs so that you can do everything on one day, and do it in a way where you can save time and gas.

Other ways to "think green" include growing your own food, composting yard waste and food scraps, or by participating in local recycling programs. Join a group like Freecycle so you can share your unneeded and unwanted possessions with people who can use them. Likewise, you'll be able to get things you need or want for free.

Earth Day teaches people that the planet belongs to everyone, so everyone is equally responsible for protecting it. Although Earth Day is an environmental celebration, our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants to remind you that you don't have to wait until then to make changes that will allow you and your family to live a greener life.

Happy Earth Day from the team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd.

Every Day is Earth Day

April 20th, 2022

During the early days of the environmental awareness movement, those who demonstrated against pollution, toxic chemicals, and the general public health were known as hippies. The early 1970s were a time of change, and assertions that we needed to pay more attention to the Earth's atmosphere were generally dismissed. But within a couple decades, it had become clear that the previous generation was right; the citizens of the world needed to become more environmentally conscious.

Many people feel that they can't make a difference if they don't do something big. But caring for the environment doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing concept. In fact, the little things you do can add up to make a great impact, especially in our community. Here are a few ways you can help the environment on Earth Day, April 22nd and all year around.

Four Small Ways to be Environmentally Friendly

  • Recycle Your Textiles. Nearly 21 million tons of textiles are added to American landfills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Donating your unwanted clothing to a secondhand store or an organization that repurposes fabric helps cut down on solid waste and conserves natural resources.
  • Reduce Usage of Disposables. Plastic bottles and bags, disposable diapers and other things we can use and toss out are convenient, but they're not necessary. Simply choosing to replace one of type of disposable with a reusable product can help you cut down on waste that has a large negative impact on our environment.
  • Conserve Water. If everyone in the United States turned off the water while brushing their teeth, more than 1.5 million gallons of water could be conserved. Turn the water on long enough to wet your toothbrush for brushing and rinsing, and then immediately turn the water off again.
  • Turn Off the Lights. Flip the light switch to "Off" if you're going to leave a particular room for 15 minutes or more. This will conserve energy on incandescent light bulbs and cut down on cooling costs.

It's not necessary to be an activist or install solar panels all over your home to help the environment. Although you can do these things, the little everyday measures make a big difference in helping to conserve energy and the environment, while reducing your carbon footprint. Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants to remind you to celebrate Earth Day and help the environment, knowing that it will benefit your and your children's generation.

My son is turning one. When should I bring him in for a visit?

April 14th, 2022

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team know that cavities know no age boundaries, and that is why we recommend a visit to our Chicago office by a child’s first birthday. That also happens to be the opinion of our friends at the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the American Dental Association.

Research has shown that more than one in four kids has had at least one cavity by the time they’re four years old. In fact, many children get cavities as early as age two, which is a critical reason why you should pay us a visit sooner rather than later. Your child’s appointment at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd also covers topics such as the importance of baby teeth, nutrition, development, and any concerns you may have with your child’s dental health. We believe that your child’s first visit with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes should be an enjoyable and positive one, and we strive to teach good oral care that will enable your child to have a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child’s next visit with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call today! We look forward to seeing you!

Pediatric Dentistry: The benefits of dairy

April 13th, 2022

When you were a child, your mother may have instructed you to drink all your milk to build strong bones. Now that you have children of your own, you may hear yourself parroting those instructions you received years ago. Getting enough dairy is essential for young children whose teeth are growing. A child who consumes the recommended daily serving of dairy will develop healthy, strong teeth for the rest of his or her life.

Structure of the Tooth

To fully grasp the importance of dairy for dental health, it is necessary to understand tooth structure. Your teeth are made of living tissues covered by a hard outer shell. The inner dental pulp is fed by blood vessels and connects to a nerve bed in your gums. Surrounding the pulp is dentine, a calcified tissue that is less brittle than the tooth’s outermost layer, the enamel. The enamel layer is the white part of your teeth, 96% of which consists of minerals such as calcium phosphate.

How does dairy help my child’s teeth?

Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Your child’s body deposits this calcium into her growing bones, including the teeth. Calcium contributes to bone growth and strength, and it forms an important part of the solid enamel that surrounds each tooth’s fragile inner pulp. Milk also contains vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and proteins. Magnesium promotes calcium deposits in your enamel, while phosphorus forms a small barrier against acidic foods that cause cavities. Vitamin D and protein are used by a child’s body to build bone tissue and maintain dental health.

How much dairy does a child need?

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, the majority of Americans do not receive enough calcium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children under the age of eight should receive at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight need three full cups — the same as adult men and women. Supplying your child with nonfat milk to drink and yogurt to eat every day is a great way to increase dairy consumption.

Growing children who do not get enough dairy in their diets risk improper tooth development and other dental health problems. Drinking sugary beverages in place of milk causes cavities and tooth decay. As a parent, it is essential to monitor your child’s dairy consumption to ensure he or she grows healthy teeth to last a lifetime.

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

April 7th, 2022

Depending on how long the thumb sucking or constant pacifier use continues, and how aggressively the child sucks a thumb or the pacifier, it can indeed be an oral health issue. Generally speaking, most children outgrow these behaviors or are able to be weaned off them successfully sometime between ages two and four. When children wean off the behaviors in this age range, long-term damage is unlikely.

Why Kids Suck Their Thumb or Pacifier

Both of these habits are actually a form of self soothing that your child likely uses when he or she is very upset, or feeling stressed, confused, frustrated, or unable to properly express the emotions. If your son or daughters is a regular thumb sucker, or the child wants to use the pacifier almost constantly, it is best to try to taper off these habits at a young age.

If your child continues to suck a thumb or request a pacifier consistently after leaving toddler-hood, this could be a source of concern, and it should be addressed with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our staff. We will be able to evaluate your child's mouth to look for any signs of damage such as palate changes or teeth shifting.

Say Goodbye to Old Habits

In the event that your child is quite reluctant to give up a pacifier or thumb-sucking habit, there are a few things you can do to discourage these behaviors.

  • When you notice that your child is not using a pacifier or sucking a thumb, offer effusive praise. This type of positive reinforcement can be much more effective than scolding the child.
  • Consider instituting a reward system for giving up the habit. If the child goes a certain amount of time without this behavior, award him or her for being such a “big kid.”
  • Employ the help of older siblings or relatives that your child admires. When a child’s role model says that he or she stopped sucking thumbs at a certain age, your child is likely to try to emulate that.

April is National Facial Protection Month

April 6th, 2022

The Importance of Facial Protection

Americans from all walks of life should mark April as National Facial Protection Month on their calendars. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, Academy for Sports Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons have combined forces to sponsor this annual campaign, which aims to educate and remind us of the importance of protecting our face and teeth against impacts and injuries.

Wearing a helmet can save your life and prevent devastating physical damage in a variety of situations, from playing football to riding a bicycle. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, helmets reduce the risk of various head injuries by as much as 85 percent. Whether helmet laws apply in your area or not, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd want you to make sure you and your loved ones wear helmets with the appropriate safety ratings for specific activities. (A sticker on or inside the helmet will usually indicate this rating.) Helmets can also help save your teeth if they come with an attached faceguard, an essential addition for football players and others involved in contact sports.

Preventing Dental Injuries

A mouthguard can protect you against a variety of dental injuries, such as cracked, broken, or knocked-out teeth. The American Dental Association states that mouthguards play an essential role in preventing up to 200,000 dental injuries each year, and many states mandate their use for sports activities such as football and hockey. The Academy for Sports Dentistry warns, however, that these mouthguards must be custom-fitted as precisely as possible to prove effective. Have a professional-quality mouthguard molded and fitted by our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd for better protection than a generic store-bought or “boil-and-bite” variety can offer. These cheaper versions tend to wear out quickly, interfere with proper breathing, and provide uneven degrees of cushion against impacts. Always have a fresh mouthguard fitted for each new sports season.

Choose the right combination of helmet, faceguard, and mouthguard to protect your teeth and face this April, and tell your friends to do the same! To learn more about mouthguards, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

Preventing Tooth Decay in Children

March 31st, 2022

Childhood tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting nearly one in three children between the ages of two and five. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that tooth decay can appear in children as young as six months old. As a parent, it is possible to spare your child from early childhood tooth decay, and potentially prevent a lifetime of oral health problems in one fell swoop.

Birth to age two

Good oral health begins before your child’s teeth ever erupt from the gums. During the first few months of life, you should be wiping your child’s gums with a damp cloth after eating. As soon as teeth appear, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommend you start brushing them with a toddler toothbrush and water, and call our Chicago office to schedule your child’s first visit. Never allow your child to go to bed with a bottle, and try to limit beverages other than water only to meal times. Children who walk around or go to sleep with bottles or sippy cups full of juice or milk are exposed to more sugars and are more likely to develop tooth decay.

Ages two to six

All of your child’s primary teeth should erupt by age three. Brush your toddler’s teeth at least twice daily with a toddler toothpaste and toothbrush. As your child gets older and learns not to swallow toothpaste, you may begin to use oral care products specially designed for preschoolers and elementary-age children. Be sure to maintain regular dental appointments and cleanings as recommended by your child’s dentist, and encourage your son or daughter to begin drinking from a regular cup. This is also the time to teach your child the importance of healthy eating habits, which includes limiting sweets and sugary desserts to mealtime.

By first grade, your child will begin to lose primary teeth. This is the time to start talking with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about dental sealants, which can prevent tooth decay from forming on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Sealants are painless, easy to apply, and undetectable to other people.

Tips

Fluoride is an important ingredient for healthy teeth. Check to make sure the water your child drinks is enriched with fluoride. Also, brush your child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, and talk to our office about whether fluoride treatments could be right for your family. For more information about preventing your child’s tooth decay, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

What is hyperdontia?

March 30th, 2022

When a child is born, he or she will have 20 primary teeth and 32 permanent teeth. But sometimes kids are born with additional teeth, and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd calls this oral condition "hyperdontia." Primary teeth are the first set of teeth that erupt in your child's mouth, typically by the time they are 36 months old, and are shed by the time your child reaches the age of 12. Permanent teeth then take the place of the primary teeth and are usually fully-erupted by the time your son or daughter reaches 21 years of age. Anyone who develops more than 20 primary teeth or more than 32 permanent teeth has hyperdontia, and the additional teeth are referred to as supernumerary teeth.

While the cause of hyperdontia is not entirely clear, it is believed that there may be a genetic factor. Oral professionals have found that patients with extra teeth often have syndromes like cleidocranial dysplasia, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, Gardner syndrome, or cleft lip and palate. The prevalence of hyperdontia affects between one and four percent of the population in the United States, and the majority of cases are limited to a single tooth.

So, what is the best way to deal with hyperdontia? It really depends on the case. The treatment plan your doctor suggests varies according to the potential problem posed by the supernumerary teeth, as well as their type. Orthodontic treatment may certainly may help, but extraction can also be a good option. We recommend that children receive an oral evaluation or checkup no later than the age of seven. In addition to hygiene evaluation, this helps ensure your child does not experience hyperdontia problems.

If you suspect you or your child may be suffering from hyperdontia, please give us a call to schedule an appointment at our convenient Chicago office to be evaluated.

Building Blocks for a Healthy Grown-Up Smile

March 24th, 2022

Even before a baby is born, those tiny baby teeth are already forming. Expectant mothers can help ensure that their children’s baby teeth will be strong and healthy by getting the recommended amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in their prenatal diets.

But a mother can’t “eat for two” to make sure her child’s adult teeth are healthy—children’s permanent teeth begin real growth and development only after birth. What can we do to encourage strong permanent teeth as our children grow and develop? Here are four important building blocks parents can use to lay a healthy foundation for their children’s grown-up smiles.

Serve a Tooth-Healthy Diet

The same vitamins and minerals that help create baby teeth are essential for creating healthy adult teeth. Tooth enamel, the hardest substance in the body, is almost completely made up of calcium phosphate minerals.  A diet which provides the recommended amounts of calcium and phosphorus helps your child’s body grow strong enamel. And don’t forget vitamin D, which our bodies need to absorb calcium and phosphorus.

A tooth-healthy diet should include several servings of foods which provide calcium, such as dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), dark leafy vegetables, and fortified juices, cereals and tofu. Phosphorus can be found in proteins like meat, fish, and poultry, as well as beans, nuts, dairy, and whole grains. Egg yolks and fatty fish are natural sources of vitamin D, and it’s easily available in fortified foods such as cow’s milk, soy milk, cereals, and orange juice.

Use the Right Amount of Fluoride

Fluoride is called “Nature’s cavity fighter” for a reason. Fluoride reduces the risk of cavities and helps strengthen tooth enamel. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can offer invaluable advice on when to start and how to use fluoride toothpaste to protect your child’s baby teeth and developing adult teeth.

Can there be too much of this good thing? While fluoride is a safe and effective way to protect teeth in normal, recommended amounts, too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis. This condition can cause cosmetic changes in the enamel of permanent teeth, from almost invisible lighter spots to darker spots and streaking.

How to make sure your child gets the right amount of fluoride?

For children under the age of three, use a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes if fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

Young children can’t always understand the idea of spitting and rinsing after brushing, so children between the ages of three and six should use only a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste, and need you there to make sure they spit and rinse afterward.

Ask us about local water fluoride levels if you have any concerns about using tap water for drinking or for mixing formula, keep fluoride toothpastes and other products out of the reach of children, monitor your children while they brush, and always check with us before giving your child a fluoride rinse or supplement.

Help Your Child Retire Harmful Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Habits

Your child might self-comfort with the help of a pacifier or thumb sucking, which can be a valuable soothing habit. But it’s important to talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes to see just how long this soothing habit should last. Around the age of four, aggressive thumb or pacifier sucking can lead to problems for permanent teeth.

Vigorous sucking can cause protruding upper front teeth. Aggressive sucking can lead to changes in the shape of your child’s palate and jaw. Open bite malocclusions, where the upper and lower teeth are unable to meet, and overbites, where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth more than they should, can also be the result of lengthy and forceful thumb sucking.

Take Care of Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are important! They bite and chew food, and they work with the tongue to help your child learn to pronounce words properly. And there’s one more important reason to make sure primary teeth stay healthy: they serve as the place holders which guide permanent teeth into their proper spots.

When a baby tooth is lost too early, due to decay or injury, the teeth on either side can drift into the empty space, preventing a permanent tooth from erupting where it needs to. Any misalignment or crowding which results may require orthodontic treatment in the future.

Call our Chicago office if your child unexpectedly loses a baby tooth. There may be no cause for concern, or, if there’s a potential problem, an appliance called a “space maintainer,” which keeps the baby teeth from shifting out of place, can be fabricated especially for your child.

Your child’s adult teeth are being formed now. Work with us to make sure the building blocks of present and future dental health are in place. You’re giving your child the foundation for a lifetime of beautiful, grown-up smiles!

Do I lose my wisdom if I lose my wisdom teeth?

March 23rd, 2022

The third molars have long been known as your “wisdom teeth,” because they are the last teeth to erupt from the gums – usually sometime during the late teens to early twenties. This is a time in life that many consider an “age of wisdom”; hence the term, “wisdom teeth.”

Extracting the third molars does not have any effect on your actual wisdom … and Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our staff are sorry to say that holding on to them can’t make you smarter, either. So if you somehow feel that you became wiser and smarter when your wisdom teeth appeared, chalk it up to age rather than teeth.

In fact, you may just be showing how smart you are by having your wisdom teeth removed. Mankind once relied on the wisdom teeth to replace teeth that were damaged or missing, thanks to a poor diet. But dietary changes and advances in modern dentistry make it possible for many people to hold on to their teeth for many decades, which eliminated the need for third molars.

For many people, wisdom teeth cause nothing but problems: becoming impacted, irritating surrounding gum tissue, or even causing other teeth to become crooked or overlap. By removing them, patients often enjoy a lower risk of decay, infection, and aesthetic complications.

So rest assured that extracting your wisdom teeth will have no effect on your immediate or long-term intelligence.

Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th, 2022

Millions of people, around Chicago and beyond, wear green on St. Patrick’s Day so they can show their spirit for the holiday and avoid getting pinched. While it may be easy for you to throw on a green shirt, sport a St. Patrick’s Day button, or wear a pair of emerald-hued shoes, if you’re an avid St. Patty’s Day enthusiast you may want to try something different this year. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes thought of a few ideas that will help you take your holiday spirit to the next level:

Visit Chicago’s Green River

If you happen to be near the Windy City during St. Patrick’s Day or you’re thinking of planning a trip, don’t miss out on going downtown to watch the large-scale celebration that kicks off when the city dyes the river bright green. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago has been celebrating the holiday with this tradition for more than 50 years, with tens of thousands of people gathering annually to witness the mysterious dying process and the stunning result.

Don Green Face Paint

Just like an avid sports fan on game day, you can use green face paints to showcase your enthusiasm for this holiday. Avoid breakouts or allergic reactions by only using paints that are specifically meant to be applied to the skin. A little bit of face paint can cover a large area, so feel free to get creative and decorate the whole family on St. Patrick’s Day.

Eat Green All Day

Not a fan of green eggs and ham? With the increasing popularity of green smoothies, there’s no better time to get in on this health craze. To create a green smoothie without the aid of food coloring, you can simply blend a generous amount of a leafy green vegetable, such as spinach or kale, with the ingredients that you would typically use to make a smoothie, like fruit, ice, milk, or juice. Keep the trend going throughout the day by using those same vegetables to create a green soup, egg salad, or a batch of bright green pastries. As an added bonus, you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamins without changing the taste of most of these foods.

If your old holiday routine has gotten stale, leave your green T-shirt in the drawer and try one or all of these tips. Don’t be surprised if you have so much fun that you decide to start a new, annual St. Patrick’s Day tradition! Have a happy St. Paddy’s day from Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd!

St. Patrick's Day: Celtic pride, green shamrocks, and lucky charms!

March 16th, 2022

“St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.” Adrienne Cook

Lucky green shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold – it must be St. Patrick’s Day! If you’re not Irish, how do you go about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? It’s easy: You just put on one of those tall leprechauns hats, dress in green from head to toe, and wear one of those carefree pins that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish, and that is the universal beauty of the holiday. Celtic pride does not discriminate.

Wondering what our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd is doing to celebrate March 17th? Well, we’ve thought about doing everything from handing out lucky gold coins (you know, the fake ones that are made of chocolate) to shamrock stickers. Maybe we’ll even give away green toothbrushes and floss! You’ll never know unless you come in to see Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes !

All kidding aside, St. Patrick’s Day is an important cultural and religious holiday. There are lavish parades and church services across Ireland on March 17th. Over time, however, the holiday has developed into a day to observe Irish culture in general. In places like England and the United States, where there is a large Irish Diaspora, the holiday has greater significance than other countries. From the streets of Boston to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, it is a day of celebration, and many Americans of Irish descent will cook up a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage.

So, to all of you with Irish ancestry, and to all of you who have decided to be Irish for the day, our office wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Good luck looking for a pot of leprechaun gold, which is said to exist at the end of the rainbow. However, keep away from those sugary Lucky Charms; sweet cereals might taste good, but your kids’ teeth might not be feeling too lucky if they eat it for breakfast every day. Have a great St. Paddy’s Day!

Are baby teeth really that important?

March 10th, 2022

Your infant’s first teeth will begin to appear around six to 12 months of age. You might wonder how important these primary teeth really are. After all, baby teeth are destined to fall out within a few years and be replaced by a full set of permanent teeth. However, baby teeth have important functions, and proper care can set the stage for excellent oral and overall health.

Promote Better Nutrition

The appearance of your baby’s primary teeth around six to 12 months of age coincides with changes in your infant’s nutritional needs. Beginning at six months, exclusive breastfeeding is no longer nutritionally sufficient; this is the age at which you should introduce solid foods.

At six to eight months, when your baby can start to chew, strained or pureed fruits and vegetables are appropriate. As your little one’s teeth grow in and chewing abilities progress through 12 months of age, you can gradually add cereal, bread, cooked meats, and other adult foods to his or her nutritious diet.

Increase the Life Expectancy of Baby Teeth

Although baby teeth are inevitably going to fall out and be replaced by permanent ones, making baby teeth last serves an important role that can have benefits into the future. Baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent teeth. If they decay and fall out too soon, permanent teeth are more likely to grow in crooked.

How to Take Care of Baby Teeth

Your baby’s primary teeth are already in his or her mouth at birth; they are just invisible because they have not broken through the gums. Since they are already present, your baby can get cavities if you do not practice proper oral hygiene from the beginning.

  • Do not let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth.
  • Brush your child’s baby teeth twice a day as soon as they come in.
  • Floss your child’s teeth as soon as he or she has two teeth that touch.
  • Visit Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd for your baby’s first checkup when the first tooth arrives.

Healthy Diet for Adolescents

March 9th, 2022

Adolescence is a critical period for oral hygiene. By the teenage years, kids will have lost all their baby teeth and replaced them with permanent teeth. Furthermore, many oral hygiene habits solidified in adolescence carry through to adulthood. Teaching adolescents to follow a healthy diet not only benefits their physical fitness but helps them maintain strong teeth and healthy gums.

Fruits and vegetables

Parents know that eating broccoli is important, but were you aware that it can keep teeth and gums healthy, too? Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd will tell you that eating plenty of crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, celery, apples, and pears, increases your saliva production. Saliva works to brush away bad bacteria that produce dangerous acids that wear away tooth enamel.

It’s also important to avoid acidic foods, which can exacerbate cavities and other dental problems. Although oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, lemons, and berries are healthy, they can also wear away the enamel of your teeth. To be safe, it’s important to brush after each meal or swish with mouthwash to remove excess acid from your mouth.

Sugar-free foods

Many candies and treats are chock-full of sugar, making them dangerous for your child’s dental health. If you have a sweet tooth, fear not: you don’t have to give up the sweet stuff entirely. Whenever possible, opt for sugar-free substitutes rather than regular sugar. For example, chewing sugar-free gum or drinking sugar-free beverages is better for teeth. These sugar substitute molecules don’t wear away enamel, which makes them safer for dental health.

Watch the beverages

Most adolescents have been told that soda will rot your teeth, but you may not realize that other beverages can be just as sugary. Many fruit juices, even those that boast 100% fruit, contain dozens of grams of sugar per serving. Similarly, popular energy drinks pack a sugary punch. When possible, drink water or milk. If your child is craving a hot beverage, turn to tea over hot chocolate or a sugary latte.

Dairy products

Teeth are like any other bones; they rely on calcium and other minerals to stay strong. To help build strong teeth, have your child drink milk or eat other dairy products to get his or her daily calcium. Yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese are good options as well. If your child can’t tolerate dairy, consider calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice to provide that daily dose of vitamins and minerals.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

March is National Nutrition Month!

March 3rd, 2022

While you don’t have to wait to start eating right, March is the month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asks everyone to pay special attention to what goes into our bodies. The Academy has designated the month of March for focusing the public’s awareness on what they eat.

What Not to Eat

The academy points out that the foods you eat have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. That is why Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd tell our patients to cut back on both candy and sweets. They consist of simple sugars that feed the bacteria in your mouth and enhance tooth decay.

It’s the hidden sugars that will cost you, though. Get in the habit of reading labels on food and looking for products with added sugar. This includes ingredients that end with the suffix “ose.” When it comes to nutrition, these foods offer little value beyond satisfying that sweet tooth.

What You Should Eat

Turn to foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. Dairy products, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.

You can’t really go wrong by adding color to your diet, either. Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. Use some caution with acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes, because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.

Remember, good nutrition is something you should worry about all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a fun reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your dental health.

We encourage you to give us a call at our Chicago office to learn more!

Good Nutrition Leads to Healthy Mouths

March 2nd, 2022

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we know the most common oral health diseases are tooth decay and periodontal disease (or gum disease), and both are among the easiest to prevent. One of the most common ways we recommend to boost your oral health is by improving your diet, because you (and your mouth) truly are what you eat. A healthy diet can lead to a healthy mouth and body, while an unhealthy diet can lead to the exact opposite.

The Role Nutrition Plays

While diet is not the only factor that leads to periodontal disease, studies suggest the disease may be more severe among patients whose diets lack essential nutrients. Poor diets will generally lead to a weaker immune system, leaving your body susceptible to all kinds of ailments, including periodontal disease.

A Well-Balanced Approach

There is no “magic” diet that we can recommend to improve your oral health, but the most important thing is to seek a well-balanced approach in your eating. While fad diets that emphasize one food group over another may help you lose weight in the short-term, they probably will not provide all the nutrients your body needs in the long run.

Meals should include a balance of lean meats or other healthy protein sources, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Foods containing substantial amounts of sugar and salt should be consumed in moderation.

Soda and Sugar: A Dangerous Duo

Millions of gallons of soda are consumed every day in America, but sipping a cold soft drink can be very harmful to your teeth. Many of these beverages wear down the enamel that protects the teeth, which weakens and even destroys them over time. The American Beverage Association estimates that soft drinks account for almost 30 percent of all drink consumption in the U.S., averaging an annual total of about 50 gallons per person (up from only 20 gallons in the 1970s). For healthy teeth and a healthy body overall, try to limit your soda intake.

Sugar is another ubiquitous treat in our daily lives. When we eat sugar, naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths convert it to acids that attack tooth enamel. Consuming too much sugar can swiftly lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum diseases like gingivitis. Most people do not even realize how much sugar they consume each day. It’s important to limit your daily sugar intake by reading the labels of all the food you eat, and sticking with natural food sources that are low in sugar, especially ones that minimize added sugar, such as fruits and vegetables.

If you have questions about your diet and how it may be affecting your oral health, talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about it. See you soon!

The Safety of Dental X-Rays

February 24th, 2022

An article was released to the public stating that dental X-rays contribute to a type of brain cancer. After reading an article like this, your first thought may be to avoid dental X-rays, but you may want to hold off on that quick judgment. As with any treatment we offer at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, education is your most valuable tool in deciding what is best for you.

How often dental X-rays are taken is based on risk for infection, physical symptoms, and clinical findings. The American Dental Association (ADA) is a governing body over the dental profession. The ADA states, “ . . . healthy adults receive routine mouth X-rays every two to three years. Dental X-rays are recommended every one to two years for children and every 1.5 to three years for teens. Children often require more X-rays than adults because of their developing teeth and jaws and increased likelihood for cavities.”

A "caries risk category" often determines how often dental X-rays are taken. The most recent documented resource to determine a caries risk is Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA). This was adopted by the ADA and is used by dental professionals giving interval recommendations for X-rays.

With knowledge of your risk for dental infection, you will be informed by Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes of the interval at which dental X-rays should be taken. You can rest assured that the standards published by the ADA have been researched extensively and are there to protect your personal health and safety.

Dental X-rays are most commonly digital, which significantly reduces exposure. There is more radiation exposure from the sun or in an airplane than in a dental X-ray. It is common practice to use a lead apron with a thyroid collar for protection during X-ray exposure.

Having a cavity means having an active, potentially harmful infection. Diagnosing such infection with minimal exposure through digital dental X-rays at our Chicago office does more good than harm.

What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?

February 23rd, 2022

You might think babies don’t need to brush their teeth, especially when they don’t have any. But by starting good habits like brushing when your child is young, you can lay the foundation for them to continue those good habits into adulthood.

When do I start?

The best time to start brushing your baby’s teeth is before he or she has any. Develop the habit of wiping your baby’s gums with a wet, soft washcloth or gauze every day. There is no need to use toothpaste, just wrap the gauze or cloth around your finger, moisten it with a little water, and gently rub it over the gums.

This helps your little one get used to brushing while it eliminates bacteria in the mouth that can harm emerging teeth. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure or even take very long: just a quick, gentle rub over the gums will do it.

What do I use?

When your child’s teeth begin to come in, you will need to switch from a cloth to a baby toothbrush. Find one that has a grip big enough for your hand, but a head that is small enough to maneuver easily in your infant’s mouth.

You don’t need to use any toothpaste until your son or daughter is about a year old. Even then, though, you’ll want to use just a tiny amount: about the size of a grain of rice. When your toddler is about two years old, you can use a pea-sized amount.

By around six years of age, your child will probably rinse and spit without your help. At that point, you may want to introduce a child-friendly fluoride mouthwash.

How do I do it?

Your child probably won’t be able to brush his or her teeth alone until about the age of five or six. This means that you will need to do it. To brush your child’s teeth, gently use the brush over all the teeth and gums, even areas where the teeth have not come in yet.

As your child grows and becomes more independent, you can allow him or her to hold the toothbrush while you guide your child’s progress. Make sure you talk to your child while you are brushing, and explain why you brush: what you are doing and how you are doing it.

In addition to regular visits with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, instilling good oral health habits in your child early on will ensure a lifetime of good dental health.

How to Care for a Teething Baby

February 17th, 2022

After hours of juggling a wailing baby, you’re probably desperate to address teething pain. If your baby is irritable, drooling, and chewing on hard objects, he or she is likely teething. Although some discomfort while your baby is teething is inevitable, learning a few basic approaches can ease painful gums and soothe your frazzled nerves.

  • Offer your finger. Simply chewing on your nice, plump finger may be enough to ease your little one’s pain. Make sure you clean your finger before placing it in your baby’s mouth.
  • Use a teething ring. A firm rubber teething ring allows your child to gnaw, and alleviates pain. If your baby seems to like sucking on a bottle, replace the milk or formula with water during teething periods. This reduces sugar intake and decreases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Cool it down. Stick a clean, moist washcloth in the freezer (place it on a tray for cleanliness) and offer that to your baby. The cooler temperature of the chilled cloth eases the pain of teeth erupting through the gums. Soaking the washcloth in non-caffeinated tea, such as chamomile, may reduce inflammation associated with teething.
  • Grab some hard foods. Certain foods allow your kiddo to gnaw, and can ease teething pain. For example, frozen bananas, large chunks of chilled carrots, an apple, or frozen bagels make good teething pain relievers. If you’re offering your child solid food, watch carefully to ensure that your infant doesn’t bite off a piece and choke.
  • Try a natural remedy. Years of grandmotherly wisdom suggest that home remedies might help with teething. Try rubbing clove oil, peeled ginger root, or vanilla extract onto your child’s gums. Although there isn’t scientific evidence to prove these remedies are effective, they may help your little one through the painful teething process. Just remember to test the method out on your own gums first to ensure any tingling or numbing is bearable for your child.
  • Use medications. If your baby seems to be especially uncomfortable, over-the-counter medications may be appropriate. Giving an age-appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may reduce discomfort. Make sure you check with your child’s pediatrician or our office first to ensure the medication is safe.

If nothing seems to be helping your child’s teething pain, you can always schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes. Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd understands the unique health needs of your little one, and are more than happy to help ensure he or she grows up with a beautiful smile.

For more information about teething, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office today!

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my child use?

February 16th, 2022

Imagine that you sit down for some evening television, and during the course of the evening, you see five commercials regarding dental products. They all claim to be the best. Then remember your last visit to the dental aisle at a local grocery store. The choices are overwhelming and there seems to be no sure answer as to which would be the best choice for your child.

Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommends that parents break down the decision process. First, consider your child’s age and stage of development. Up until age ten to 12, your child cannot adequately brush or floss independently. It is not a maturity issue, but rather dexterity. Automatic toothbrushes are highly appropriate for all ages. Brushing quality improves when using a battery-powered toothbrush. Use it together with your child, and always play an active role in your child’s oral home care.

As a general rule, the brush head of the toothbrush should be a little larger than the child’s upper portion of the thumb. This will help ensure it will fit in all the places it needs to.

Flossers are great for children. These will have a horseshoe shape on one end with floss in-between. A particular brand name does not matter. Some have a higher quality and this should be evident when you use them. You can make a choice for individual preference with color, handle size, or shape, etc.

There are many brands of toothpaste and there are also differences in the ingredients. Some contain sodium fluoride, the standard ingredient in cavity prevention. Others have stannous fluoride, which is anti-bacterial and anti-cavity. Potassium nitrate is commonly found in anti-sensitivity, and triclosan is found in one particular brand for anti-bacterial properties. It is most common for children to be at a high risk for cavities. Therefore, our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommends toothpaste with fluoride once your child is old enough to spit.

Before a child can spit, use toothpaste without fluoride. This is an ideal time to use toothpaste with xylitol. Xylitol should be listed as the first ingredient; this way you’ll get the almost medicinal property of this natural sweetener. After you have found the right type of toothpaste, consider its flavor. The best kind of toothpaste is one that will be used, so choose a flavor that your child will love!

If you have any other questions, our would like specific brand recommendation feel free to call us at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd or ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes during your next appointment!

The Transformation of Valentine's Day

February 10th, 2022

Did you know the actions leading to the beginnings of Valentine's Day were actually centered on the avoidance of war? A Catholic priest named Valentine defied the orders of the Emperor Claudius II and secretly married young men and their brides after the emperor had declared it illegal because only single, young men could be sent to war. Rather than lose potential soldiers to fight his war, Claudius attempted to hoard them by proclaiming marriage illegal.

Valentine continued to marry young couples anyway and, eventually, was put to death for it in 270 AD. Before his death, he sent a letter to a secret love and signed it “From your Valentine”. Nearly 1,800 years later, people are still signing letters and cards in this manner. This year, carry on the tradition started long ago, while adding your own twist. Here are a few suggestions.

Simple and Creative Valentine's Day Ideas

  • Memorialize it with a Photo. Couples often have photos taken around Christmas, but Valentine's Day photos allow you to capitalize on romance. Famous couple Julia Child and her husband, Paul, had their picture taken together every Valentine's Day and included their sense of humor with silly props.
  • Return to Your First Date Location. Even if your first date together was at a local hotdog stand, its sentimental value can make it a fun part of your Valentine's Day agenda. Be creative and make a treasure hunt with clues that lead your partner to the original date location, where you can express your love with flowers or a gift.
  • “From Your Valentine” Messages. Deliver your message in a creative way to make this Valentine's Day stand out from the others. Bake your partner's favorite treat and write a message on it with a tube of icing, or draw a note on the steamed up mirror so it shows up when your partner takes a shower.

Although Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love, it doesn't have to be a special day only for couples. If you're single, use this special day to shower yourself with love, because you're worth it! After all, the priest Valentine believed so strongly in the sanctity of love that he was willing to risk his life for it. Whether you're in a relationship or single, young or old, romantic or not, Valentine's Day is for you. Happy Valentine’s Day from the dental office of Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

Valentine's Day History

February 9th, 2022

Valentine’s Day is best known as a celebration of love in all its forms. Pink hearts, red roses, and cute greeting cards adorn every surface you see. What many people don’t realize is that the modern Valentine’s Day celebration arose from a religious holiday.

St. Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated as a religious feast day in honor of early Christian martyrs. Three martyrs named Valentine were honored: a priest in Rome, the persecuted bishop of Interamna (a town in central Italy), and a saint martyred in Africa. This saint’s day was celebrated throughout Christendom, although it was removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969.

The origin of Valentine’s Day as a holiday for lovers began with Geoffrey Chaucer in his 1382 poem “Parlement of Foules.” Chaucer wrote, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate,” and the modern romantic holiday was born. William Shakespeare and other writers mentioned Valentine’s Day as a day of love.

Valentine’s Day as we know it came about in the early 19th century. In Victorian England, printers began manufacturing small numbers of cards with romantic verses, lace, ribbons, and other frills. Anonymous Valentine’s Day card were a popular way for young lovers to exchange romantic sentiments in an otherwise prudish time. As the 19th century progressed, printers began mass manufacturing Valentine’s Day cards. People in the United States give an estimated 190 million valentines every year, and up to one billion if you count children exchanging cards at school! With the rise of the Internet, Valentine’s Day e-cards have become a popular mode of communication, with millions of e-cards sent each year.

The other items associated with Valentine’s Day include chocolate and flowers. The tradition of giving chocolates has been around for decades, and Richard Cadbury created the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates nearly 150 years ago. Today, purchases of chocolate total over $1 billion in the United States alone, with 35 million heart-shaped boxes sold each year. Loved ones also exchange flowers, with red roses being associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. On Valentine’s Day itself, florists sell nearly 200 million stems of roses.

Although many people dismiss Valentine’s Day as a commercialized “Hallmark holiday,” it is beloved to couples and romantics across the United States and other countries. The team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants to remind all patients that no matter what your celebratory plans, February 14th can be a wonderful day to celebrate the loved ones in your life. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Importance of Oral Health Care for your Child

February 3rd, 2022

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so it’s a great time for our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd to talk about the importance of getting proper oral health care for your children. Oral health has been closely tied to the overall health of our entire body, so making sure that our children have the best oral health care can not only ensure that they have great smiles, but they are protected from the negative effects of poor oral health as well.

Special Care for Children’s Teeth

Oral health care should begin with the very first tooth that grows in your baby’s mouth. Even though these teeth will fall out within a few years, baby teeth hold a space for your child’s permanent ones, and it’s important that your child has a healthy mouth when those permanent teeth arrive. Without proper care, even baby teeth can decay and cause a host of problems, including:

  • Painful teeth and gums
  • Difficulty chewing, eating, and sleeping
  • Gum disease and inflammation
  • Embarrassment when talking and smiling

Develop Good Oral Health Habits Early

As a parent, you can teach your child the right way to care for teeth and make sure he or she visits Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes regularly for cleanings and checkups. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 50 percent of children under 12 have some form of tooth decay, and it is one of the most common childhood diseases. Alarmingly, a report by the National Institutes of Health, Oral Health in America, found that almost six out of ten children have cavities or other tooth decay (also called “caries”).

There are many things you can do to help your child maintain a healthy mouth with strong teeth and gums.

  • Brush your children’s teeth twice a day when they are babies, then teach them to do it on their own when they get older.
  • Be sure your child gets enough fluoride—you can find out whether it is already in your drinking water, and provide supplements if it is not. If you are unsure how to get more fluoride, give our office a call to discuss. In addition, make sure your child is brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Feed your child a healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in added sugars. We especially recommend you avoid sugary drinks.
  • Bring your child to our Chicago office for regular dental checkups and cleanings. Coming in every six months is recommended.

Helping children develop healthy habits to care for teeth while they are young is important. These habits can set the stage for good oral health care throughout their entire life. They can avoid many of the problems that result from poor oral health, including gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay. Start encouraging those habits now during National Children’s Dental Health Month, and help your children reap the benefits through the rest of their lives.

National Children’s Dental Health Month

February 2nd, 2022

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and a perfect time for Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes to review some of the important steps in keeping your child’s smile healthy!

Your Baby

Early care is best! Even before teeth appear, the American Dental Association recommends gently wiping your baby’s gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth after feeding. When his or her first tooth arrives, it’s time to schedule your child’s first visit. Our office will be happy to answer any questions you might have about brushing tools and techniques. This is also an opportunity to check not only tooth health, but jaw and teeth development. Check your baby’s teeth regularly, and call us if you have any concerns.

Your Preschooler

By the time children are three, they will probably have all or most of their baby teeth. Brushing your child’s teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled, child-sized brush is a great model for when your child begins brushing on his or her own. And when teeth begin to touch, flossing your child’s teeth is recommended once a day as well.  Remember to schedule regular checkups at our Chicago office, and help make your toddler’s visit positive by reading books or watching videos about visiting the dentist, using playtime to practice things that might happen in the dentist’s chair (such as opening his or her mouth to count teeth), and planning visits during times your child is well-rested.

Your School-Age Child

Your child might be ready to take on brushing and flossing while you supervise, and there are many ways you can encourage both reluctant and enthusiastic brushers! The ADA recommends two minutes of careful brushing twice a day, or as directed by your dentist or physician. You can use these four important minutes to tell your child stories, listen to music, or brush together. Your child can help choose his or her toothbrush and toothpaste, or earn stickers for a brushing job well done. Stick to a routine for best results, and schedule regular checkups and cleanings to protect your child’s overall dental health. This is also an important age to check bite alignment, any potential orthodontic issues, and the possibility of sealants.

February might be the shortest month, but it’s a great time to consider your child’s life-long smile. If you have any questions or concerns, the team at our Chicago office is always happy to discuss them with you—any time of year!

Good Dental Hygiene Impacts Overall General Health

January 27th, 2022

There are many ways in which your oral health has an impact on your overall general health. There are naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. Some of those bacteria, including strep and staph, are harmful, while other bacteria are essential for the balance of intestinal flora. The healthier your mouth is, the less likely it is the harmful bacteria will travel to other parts of your body to infect it and make you sick. There is much more to good dental hygiene than brushing and flossing.

Historical Methods of Maintaining Oral Health

Ancient civilizations relied on natural remedies for maintaining oral health. Around 250 AD, the Kemetic Egyptians used myrrh and other herbs as antiseptics for treating infected gums. Two centuries later, the Nubians, who lived in the Nile River valley, drank beer to ease the pain of infected teeth. That probably sounds crazy, but their beer was effective because they used grains that were contaminated with the same bacteria that produce the antibiotic tetracycline.

Today's Biggest Dental Hygiene Challenge

In the past, tooth decay was more of an issue because there was no routine dental care, and problems that are routinely treated today went untreated. Thanks to fluoridated water, and toothpastes containing fluoride, tooth decay is far less problematic than it was a century or more ago. Gum disease has replaced tooth decay as the most serious dental problem facing people today. According to the American Dental Association, a staggering 80 percent of Americans over age 65 suffer from some form of periodontal disease.

Ironically, if that infection attacked any other part of your body, especially in a place where it was clearly visible, you would head to your doctor for treatment immediately. People tend to ignore gum tenderness and bleeding. When the tenderness and bleeding aren't treated, the inflammation can turn into periodontitis. The longer you allow the inflammation to go untreated, the greater the likelihood that it will affect other body parts. Make sure to visit Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd regularly to be proactive about dental health!

Researchers are now discovering that untreated inflammation in the mouth acts as a driving force for multiple chronic illnesses, including clogged arteries, heart attacks, arthritis, and even cancer. That inflammation is one of many hypotheses that may explain how chronic infections can trigger systemic diseases, and even intensify existing ones. Bacterial overgrowth in the inflamed gum tissue can enter the bloodstream through the food you eat, and from daily brushing.

Caring for your mouth at home is just as important as visiting our office for exams!

Why should I have my child’s wisdom teeth removed?

January 20th, 2022

The wisdom teeth are the last of the permanent molars to emerge from the gums. This can occur as early as age 17 or as late as 21. Though some teens and young adults experience a completely normal tooth eruption with ideally aligned molars that pose no health threat, this is not the case for everyone.

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), wisdom teeth must meet specific criteria to avoid a required extraction. These guidelines include:

  • Completely erupted and non-impacted
  • Completely functional
  • Painless
  • Free of decay
  • Disease-free
  • Capable of being properly cleaned

If one or more of your child’s wisdom teeth do not meet these conditions, we recommend scheduling an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes; an extraction may be necessary.

Impacted wisdom teeth

One of the most common reasons for extracting a wisdom tooth is due to impaction. An impacted wisdom tooth is one that has not erupted and will not fully erupt from the gums. Usually this occurs because there is not enough room for the tooth to emerge. Impaction can be painful and can also lead to infection if left untreated. According to the AAOMS, roughly 90 percent of the teen and adult population has at least one impacted tooth. Extracting an impacted wisdom tooth early can help prevent future complications, such as periodontal disease, infections, and damage to neighboring teeth.

Extracting fully erupted wisdom teeth

Even if your child’s wisdom teeth are fully erupted, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd may recommend removing them as a preventive measure. Fully-erupted third molars often interfere with a healthy bite. This can lead to problems with tooth and jaw alignment and may also contribute to the development of headaches. Your child’s wisdom teeth may also be more prone to tooth decay and gum disease, because their location in the back of the mouth makes them more difficult to reach for brushing and flossing.

To learn more about wisdom teeth, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

Bedtime, Bottles, and Baby Teeth

January 19th, 2022

Your beautiful baby is finally asleep, bottle clutched in tiny hands, dreaming sweet dreams with a charming milky smile.

Unfortunately, this lovely fantasy might lead to a rude awakening. If your child goes to sleep every night with a bottle, the chance of childhood cavities greatly increases. In fact, there is even a name for it—baby bottle tooth decay.

How Can Bottles Lead to Tooth Decay?

Cavities are created when oral bacteria produce acids that erode enamel, the protective outer coating of the tooth. These bacteria love to feed on sugar. Baby formula and even breast milk contain carbohydrates in the form of sugars. And this is not a bad thing!

Carbohydrates are essential for babies (and adults as well) for growth and development. Lactose, the sugar found in breast milk, is a carb that is easy for your baby to digest and helps good bacteria in the digestive system grow. Formulas with cow’s milk also contain lactose, and even the other kinds of sugars found in formula provide your baby with necessary, easily digestible carbohydrates.

But when your child goes to sleep with a bottle, those healthy sugars aren’t all being digested. Liquid can pool in the mouth bathing those perfect new teeth with sugar all through the night. That’s why we don’t recommend letting your child go to sleep with a bottle of formula.

And if your older child’s bottle is filled with juice or other sugared drinks, the effects are potentially much more harmful. Eventually, sugar left in the mouth all night will lead to the development of cavities, and in severe cases, to infection and even tooth loss. The upper front teeth are most often affected, but other baby teeth can become decayed as well.

How Can You Help Prevent Baby Bottle Decay?

  • Start early by gently wiping your baby’s gums and erupting teeth after each bottle or breast feeding with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze pad. (Even though breastfed babies have a reduced risk of early cavities, it’s still a good idea to clean their gums and teeth after feedings.)
  • Once those little teeth have come in, use a baby-size toothbrush to gently clean them. Talk to us about toothpaste—when and how much is appropriate for your child.
  • Babies generally require breastfeeding or formula at night to get the nutrition they need. It’s best if they finish their feeding before naps or bedtime so you have a chance to clean little mouths. If your toddler carries a bottle or sippy cup through the day, or insists on a bottle at night, talk to us or your pediatrician for ideas on how and when to substitute tooth-healthy options such as water.
  • Limit unnecessary or unhealthy sugars. Never put sugar-heavy juices and sodas in your child’s bottle or cup, or sugar or honey on a pacifier.

Your Child’s Baby Teeth Are Important

Your child will start losing those baby teeth around the age of six, but primary teeth provide many irreplaceable benefits before they are, well, replaced. Using the teeth to bite and chew food helps form proper eating habits and develop jaw and facial muscles. Baby teeth help with speech development, and they serve as place holders to make sure the adult teeth erupt in the right spot. Losing baby teeth too early can interfere with all of these goals.

As soon as that first tooth makes its appearance, or by the age of one, bring your baby to our Chicago office for a first checkup. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team will not only make sure everything is going according to schedule, but we will check tiny teeth for enamel erosion and even cavities. Most important, we’ll suggest ways to prevent cavities and tooth decay with proactive dental care. We have many great ideas on making sure your little one’s teeth are healthy from bottle to baby teeth, preparing your child for a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles. And that’s a dream come true!

Pacifiers and Your Child's Oral Health

January 13th, 2022

Children are born with a natural sucking reflex. In fact, sonogram images from the womb often reveal an unborn baby practicing by sucking on his or her fingers or thumb. Not only does sucking aid in your baby’s ability to acquire food and nutrients, but it is also a security and possible analgesic outside of meal times.

Though it is both normal and beneficial for parents to soothe their children with pacifiers during infancy, long-term use could interfere with oral health and development. Most children will stop using a pacifier on their own. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends halting pacifier use after age three. Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use after this time can cause the upper front teeth to begin to lean outward. It can also cause new teeth to erupt crookedly, and it can negatively affect jaw alignment.

If your child is not showing signs of self-weaning by age two, you may begin the process by limiting pacifier usage to specific times, such as nap time or when getting vaccinations. Offer an alternative security item, such as a blanket, and be sure to praise your child when he or she chooses the blanket over the pacifier.

Tips

  • Never under any circumstances should you dip your baby’s pacifier in something sweet. Though it is a tempting way of encouraging your child to take a pacifier when crying, it can also lead to early childhood tooth decay.
  • If your child has not discontinued pacifier use by age three, talk with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about behavioral modifications or appliances that can help your child wean.
  • Never use negative reinforcement to discourage pacifier use. Punishment for pacifier use is not effective for changing your child’s habits.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s pacifier usage or which types of pacifiers are best for your child’s oral health, please give our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd a call at our convenient Chicago office!

Five Tips for Taking Tots to the Dentist

January 12th, 2022

Toddlers are notoriously balky about strangers. But their first dental visit should not be cause for fear and tears. Nor should you assume that getting your toddler to Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd is going to involve a full-blown tantrum or Mafia-style bribery. “Honey, don’t worry. We’ll go get ice cream after…” sort of defeats the purpose of making that first dental appointment.

These five tips will make your toddler’s trip to see Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes as fun as a stop at an amusement park.

1. Before you make a dental appointment for your child, take him or her on a ride-along to one of your dental appointments. Let your son or daughter experience the office and get the lay of the land. Toddlers don’t like surprises. But if your little one is already familiar with the big chair that goes up and down, the next time he or she will have no problem taking a seat.

2. About the big dental chair … well, it’s really an amusement park ride. See how it goes up and down? Toddlers love games, and turning the trip to the dentist into a game is among the oldest (and most successful) tricks in the parent playbook.

3. Positive reinforcement is a good thing. That's why Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our staff hand out cool toothbrushes or stickers to children after their appointment. A fun-colored toothbrush with a suction bottom is a good incentive to come back for another cleaning.

4. Timing is everything. Don’t take your child to the dentist an hour before the daily nap. Make the appointment with your child’s schedule in mind. This increases the chances of success.

5. A few days before the scheduled appointment, start reading your toddler bedtimes stories about what happens at the dentist. Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile, written by Christine Ricci, is a popular dental story that your child might relate to.

Using Sippy Cups Successfully

January 6th, 2022

Congratulations! Your child is beginning to leave her bottle behind and has started to use her first sippy cup. And the best training cup is one that makes the transition from bottle to cup an efficient, timely, and healthy one.

The Right Training Cup

While a “no spill” cup seems like the perfect choice for toddler and parent alike, those cups are designed much like baby bottles. The same valve in the no-spill top that keeps the liquid from spilling requires your child to suck rather than sip to get a drink. If your child’s cup has a top with a spout, she will learn to sip from it. Two handles and a weighted base make spills less likely.

When to Use a Training Cup

Children can be introduced to a sippy cup before they are one year old, and we suggest phasing out the bottle between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Use a sippy cup as the source for all liquids at that age, and only when your child is thirsty and at mealtime to avoid overdrinking. The transition from sippy cup to regular cup should be a swift one.

Healthy Sipping Habits

The best first option in a sippy cup between meals is water. Milk or juice should be offered at mealtimes, when saliva production increases and helps neutralize the effects of these drinks on young teeth. And don’t let your child go to sleep with anything other than water—falling asleep with a cup filled with milk, juice, or other sugary drinks means these liquids stay in the mouth overnight. Finally, while a sippy cup is convenient and portable, don’t let your young child walk and sip at the same time to avoid injuries.

When your child comes to our Chicago office for her first visit, please bring any questions you might have about training cups. We would be glad to share ways to make the move from bottle to cup both successful and safe!

Make your child’s next visit to our office great!

January 5th, 2022

If you have been bringing your baby in for regular checkups since that first tooth arrived, you might expect that he or she is already familiar with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our staff. Often, though, months pass between visits, which is a very long time for a child. How can you make your preschooler’s return visit a happy one? We have some suggestions!

Before Your Visit

  • Prepare your child for her visit. Simple explanations are best for a young child. You might tell your daughter that a dentist is a doctor who helps keep her teeth strong and healthy. Let her know a bit about what will happen. Being told, “You will sit in a special chair,” or, “Can you open wide so we can count your teeth?” will give her some idea of what it’s like to visit our office.
  • There are many entertaining books for young children about visiting the dentist. Reading some of these to her for a few days before the appointment will let her know what to expect.
  • Use playtime to prepare. You might count your daughter’s teeth or let her “play dentist” and brush the teeth of her favorite doll or stuffed animal.

When You Arrive

  • Your attitude can be contagious! If you treat a visit to the dentist like any other outing, chances are your child will too. Your calm presence is exactly what your child needs.
  • You might want to come a bit early to let your son explore the office. Bring a favorite toy or book to keep him entertained if you need to. A favorite stuffed toy can be a comfort in an unfamiliar place.
  • If you are with your child during his checkup, follow our lead. Don’t be concerned if your child seems uncooperative at first or even throws a tantrum—we are used to working with children, and have techniques to make his experience as relaxed and as positive as we possibly can.

We Are Here to Help

We are your partners in your child’s dental care. Call our Chicago office anytime for suggestions about making your child’s visit a comfortable, comforting experience. Our goal is to start your child confidently on the road to a lifetime of empowering dental visits and lasting dental health.

New Year's Eve

December 30th, 2021

Watching the clock tick down the final seconds until midnight, many of us- Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd included- feel nostalgic about the passing year and hopeful about the new one to come. New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, with over-the-top celebrations taking place in dozens of countries. The Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in Western nations and around the world, was implemented in 1582. Since that time, December 31st has marked the final day of the year, with midnight heralding the beginning of a brand new year. In the United States, New Year’s Day is a public holiday; government offices, schools, public organizations, and many businesses are closed for the day. Ponder the following fun facts as you think about your plans for the holiday:

  • Approximately one billion people watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City. This televised event is one of the most iconic New Year’s celebrations in the world. For many years, watching the ball drop meant tuning in to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, an iconic television special dear to the hearts of many viewers.
  • The idea for the New Year’s Eve ball came about because of a citywide ban on fireworks. Before 1907, when fireworks became illegal in New York City, celebrations included an elaborate fireworks show. The large, glittering, illuminated ball was developed as an alternative. Although the first ball was heavy at 700 pounds, the modern New Year’s Eve ball is made of Waterford crystal and tips the scale at six tons!
  • The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, return to school, or increase personal savings. However, approximately 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail. But don’t let that discourage you! Resolutions are most likely to succeed when they are clear, achievable goals. Setting out a concrete plan to achieve your resolution also boosts your chances of success.
  • Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune in the new year. Collard greens, cabbage, and ham hocks are also considered lucky foods to enjoy. Just steer clear of the chicken or turkey dinners; eating poultry is a bad omen for the year to come.

Whether you plan to stay in Chicago, or head out into the crowds to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy friends and family. Send your loved ones well wishes for the New Year, and look for that special someone to share a midnight kiss with for good luck!

New Year's Day Around the World

December 29th, 2021

New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the calendar year in most parts of the world. The holiday is celebrated on January 1st of each year. Customs and celebrations vary by country, religion, and even individual desires. Whether celebrated quietly or with gusto, the day brings the start of new opportunities for those that observe it.

United States and Canada

In both the US and Canada, celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve. At midnight on January 1st the New Year is welcomed with bells, horns, whistles, and other noisemakers. Fireworks are often part of the celebrations. In New York City, Times Square comes alive with revelers. In Toronto, there are large celebrations which may feature concerts, late-night partying, sporting events, and fireworks, with free public transit service during peak party times. Many individuals in North America greet the year by making resolutions for improvements in their lives.

China

In China, many people celebrate two forms of a new year. They may observe January 1st, but the traditional Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar. Parades with paper lanterns and dragons made from silk are a significant part of the festivities. Legends say that the dragon spends most of its time in hibernation so fireworks are used to keep the dragon awake.

Jewish Celebration

Jewish New Year’s observances begin with Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the New Year, and end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This ten-day celebration is held in September or October, based on the Hebrew calendar. The New Year is not marked as much with loud celebrations as with personal insight to mend wrongs and resolve to better oneself.

Other countries and cultures also have different dates for New Year’s Day observances:

  • Vietnam observes the New Year in February
  • In Iran, the day is celebrated on March 21st
  • Islamic cultures often observe the tenth day of the month of Muharram
  • Russian Orthodox observers use the Julian calendar and celebrate on January 14th
  • Buddhist celebrations are held from April 13th through 15th

If you observe New Year’s Day by making healthy resolutions, include dental care in your plans with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes. The health of your teeth and gums contributes to your overall health. Caring for your mouth now can prevent many dental problems later in life. Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wishes you a healthy, prosperous, and happy New Year!

Gum Disease in Children

December 23rd, 2021

When it comes to gum disease and your child, it’s a good news/bad news situation. The very good news is that children rarely suffer from advanced gum disease, or periodontitis. The not-so-good news? Early gum disease, called gingivitis, is unfortunately an all-too-common childhood problem.

  • What does gingivitis look like in children?

Childhood gingivitis has the same causes and symptoms as the adult version. Healthy gums are firm and pink. When bacteria and plaque accumulate on the teeth, your child’s gums become irritated and inflamed. Call our Chicago office right away if you notice any of these symptoms of gingivitis: bleeding gums, puffiness, redness, gum tissue receding from the teeth, or bad breath even after brushing.       

  • How to Prevent Gingivitis

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor dental care. Creating a regular dental routine is the best way to prevent gingivitis from ever developing! Brushing and flossing with your child for two minutes twice a day from the very beginning helps make healthy cleaning a lifelong habit. Care should be taken to gently brush teeth at the gum line to make sure plaque doesn’t get a chance to build up there and cause gum irritation. And when your child comes in for regular cleanings, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can be sure that any plaque that might remain on the teeth is removed.

Two additional notes: as your child approaches adolescence, hormone fluctuations can make gums more sensitive and easily irritated. This is a time to really emphasize careful and gentle brushing and flossing. Also, some medical conditions may make children more pre-disposed to gum problems, so be sure to make us aware of your child’s medical history.

  • Uncommon Gum Diseases

While gingivitis is very preventable with proper dental hygiene, there are some rare gum conditions that can occur around the time of puberty that are quite different from gingivitis. Aggressive Periodontitis can cause severe bone loss around the first molars and incisors, even without any kind of plaque build-up, and Generalized Aggressive Periodontitis leads to inflammation of the gums, heavy plaque, and, eventually, loose teeth. Again, these conditions are rare, but if you have a family history of these diseases, let us know. Checkups and cleanings are a great way to catch any potential gum problems, so be sure to bring your child in for regular visits.

Almost all childhood gingivitis is preventable. With careful brushing and flossing at home, and visiting us regularly for checkups and cleanings, your child can enjoy healthy gums and teeth now and learn habits that will keep those gums and teeth healthy for a lifetime. And that is a good news/great news situation!

Avoid Brushing After Every Single Meal!

December 22nd, 2021

Here is some surprising yet worthwhile advice you might be hearing for the first time: Brushing can be incredibly bad for your child’s teeth if done right after eating certain foods.

Enamel is an extremely hard mineral on the exterior of each tooth. It’s actually the hardest substance in the human body: It’s even stronger than bones! Its only weakness is that acids in the food we eat can easily destroy enamel.

Healthy teeth thrive in an environment that has the proper pH balance. That ensures the mouth doesn’t start the process of demineralization—the process when alkaline turns into acid, which attacks and softens the enamel on the surface of your child’s teeth. Pores and fissures form, and that’s when the harmful bacteria go to work.

A mouth’s pH level fluctuates depending on what is eaten throughout the day. Examples of the most common highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of pH in the mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid.

Can brushing your child’s teeth immediately after a meal lead to even more damage? The answer is yes!

Eating highly acidic foods causes your child’s teeth to be more susceptible. If your child brushes when the teeth have been weakened by acids, even more destruction can happen to the enamel. Your child’s toothbrush bristles will actually wear away some of the enamel. So it’s healthier for your child to wait at least an hour after eating or snacking to brush.

Good preventive measures to take instead of brushing after your child eats include:

  • Rinsing or drinking water
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Consuming dairy or non-acidic foods to conclude a meal

These practices help produce saliva, which in turn restores a healthy pH level in your child’s mouth and coats the teeth with minerals they need.

Once your child’s mouth is restored to a healthy pH level, he or she may brush normally. Keep in mind that acidic foods can weaken the enamel on the teeth and take the right measures to prevent spiking pH levels.

Still have questions? Call our Chicago office and schedule an appointment for your child with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

Easing the Teething Blues

December 16th, 2021

Every moment of your baby’s first year of life is precious, since every day your child grows a little, develops new skills, and discovers new things. Most of it is wonderful, but parents don’t like to see their babies in pain. That’s why teething can be such a hard experience. However, you can take steps to make it easier for you and your baby.

What to Expect

Most babies begin teething around the age of six months, when the lower central incisors start to appear. Shortly after this time, the upper central incisors poke through, followed by the lateral incisors, first molars, canines, and second molars. Unfortunately, you’ll probably know that your baby is teething not because you see these teeth come in, but because your baby will be in discomfort. These are some of the signs to watch for when you’re expecting your baby to begin teething.

  • Tender and sore gums
  • More drooling than before
  • Being crankier than usual
  • Chewing on hard objects

What You Can Do

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to make your child more comfortable. These are some approaches that Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team recommend:

  • Take a clean moistened wash cloth or use your own washed finger to rub your baby’s gums and provide relief due to the pressure.
  • Provide a firm rubber teething ring for your baby to use, but don't use the type that is filled with liquid.
  • Use a bottle. A bottle filled with cold water can be soothing. Don’t give your baby formula, milk, or juice constantly because the sugar can cause tooth decay.
  • Medications can help for extreme crankiness. Infant Tylenol is an example, but it’s best to check with your pediatrician before giving your baby medications.

You might also want to take special care to dry the drool. It’s not just to keep yourself and your baby dry. Keeping your baby’s skin dry can help prevent irritation.

When to Visit Us

Once your child’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start thinking your baby’s first trip to our Chicago office. The American Dental Association suggests that you bring your child to the dentist within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, or at about one year of age. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can do a quick check for tooth decay, and we’ll make sure you know how to take care of your child’s new teeth.

Make Brushing Teeth Fun!

December 15th, 2021

It’s understandable that kids would rather be playing outside or watching their favorite movie instead of doing a “boring” task like brushing their teeth. But there are ways to make brushing fun for your son or daughter, and encourage healthy oral hygiene habits early on! Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team have a few tricks that may help.

Game time

What child doesn’t love a good game? Try to turn brushing time into a game, whether by playing hide-and-seek or singing your child’s favorite song while he or she brushes for two minutes.

Kids also love rewards, so awarding them stickers after a good brushing can encourage them to do a good job every time. You might even tell your child that five stickers will earn a special treat or fun activity at the end of the week.

Fun accessories

Lots of toothbrush options can add something exciting to your child’s daily brushing routine. Toothbrushes that light up tend to be a popular choice with young kids. The same goes for toothbrushes shaped like your child’s favorite animal or cartoon character.

Teaching your kids about how long they should brush each time can also be fun. Let them have the special responsibility of setting a timer for two minutes before they start to brush.

The Great Toothpaste Experiment

Lots of kids can be picky eaters and that can the case with toothpaste flavors. Set aside a time to sample several different flavors, the way they’ve probably tried various flavors at the ice cream shop! Just make sure to be very clear that they shouldn’t swallow the toothpaste.

With your help, your child can easily develop healthy brushing habits over time. If you can find ways to make it fun, it can be an enjoyable experience for both of you!

Call Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at our Chicago office for more fun tips or to make an appointment today!

Nutrition Tips for Healthy Kids’ Smiles

December 9th, 2021

The grown-ups in your life want you to have a healthy, happy smile. That’s why they help you brush and floss, and make sure you come see Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes for checkups and cleanings. Did you ever wonder if there are other ways you can help build a beautiful smile? There are! And one of them is eating food that makes our teeth and gums strong and healthy.

Friendly Foods

  • Enamel and Bone Builders

Calcium is a very important element that helps us grow strong bones and enamel, the hard covering on the outside of our teeth. Bacteria in our mouths can create acids that weaken enamel and lead to cavities, so we want to keep our enamel as strong as possible. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are great sources of calcium, but you might be surprised to know dark green vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli help build strong teeth as well, and strong teeth are less likely to get cavities!

  • Good for Our Gums

Many foods have important vitamins that help keep our gums and mouths healthy. Vitamin C helps protect our gums and make them stronger. When we think of Vitamin C, we usually think of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, but there are many other fruits and vegetables that give us this important vitamin, including mangos, potatoes, and strawberries. Vitamin A also helps keep our gums healthy. We can increase our Vitamin A by adding fish, leafy green vegetables, or orange colored foods to our diet.

  • Natural Toothbrushes

Crunchy foods like apples, carrots, and celery can help keep our teeth clean. They act like gentle brushes to remove food and bacteria left on our teeth after eating. Chewing also increases saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. And, of course, drinking or rinsing with water after a snack helps clean our teeth when we can’t brush.

What Foods Aren’t Good for Our Teeth?

  • Bacteria Builders

Plaque is a film of bacteria that sticks to our teeth. These bacteria make acids that soften our enamel and cause cavities. And what do these bacteria use for food? Sugar is one of their favorites! We can’t stop eating everything with sugar, of course, and we all deserve a treat every now and then. But to keep our teeth their healthiest, it really helps to cut down on sugary foods and drinks, and to brush or rinse with water when we do enjoy dessert.

  • Acid Attacks

Bacteria can make acids that weaken our enamel, but we can also eat foods that damage our enamel and might lead to cavities. Drinks like sodas, citrus juices and even some sports drinks are acidic enough to make our enamel softer. Drinking with a straw or rinsing your mouth with water helps, but it’s a good idea to limit foods and drinks that make our enamel weaker over time.

  • Sticky Stuff

Any food that stays on or between your teeth gives bacteria more time to grow and produce the acids that cause cavities. We can guess that hard candy and caramel would be a bad idea, but even healthy foods such as dried fruit and trail mix can be a problem when they stick to your teeth. If you eat something sticky, be sure to rinse with water or brush and floss as soon as you can.

You already know that brushing and flossing are the best way to keep your teeth clean, and that visiting us for checkups and office cleanings helps your teeth and gums stay strong and healthy. Eating well is just one more thing you can do to help. The next time you visit our Chicago office, talk to us about what you and your family can add to the menu for a lifetime of beautiful smiles!

Steer clear of that candy!

December 8th, 2021

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we know how tempting candy can sometimes be on our sweet tooth, but it’s important to remember that every candy and sugary treat you consume elevates your risk of developing tooth decay, which can break down your teeth.

While not all bad in moderation, when eaten in excess, candy can lead to big problems, especially if good oral hygiene habits are not followed. We have a few helpful tips if you just can’t stay away from all those treats:

1. Consume candy and other sweets during meals when your saliva can help neutralize the acids that are found in some candies, especially the sour variety.

2. Avoid sticky or hard candies, which can stay in your mouth longer than you think, resulting in acids being constantly exposed to your teeth. That leads to cavities and tooth decay.

3. Make sure the water you drink is fluoridated. Water that is fluoridated has been shown to help prevent cavities.

4. Make sure to maintain your daily oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing twice a day, and flossing at least once.

5. Visit our office twice a year for regular dental checkups and cleanings with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes. During your visit, we can help catch problems such as cavities early to reduce the effects they have on your teeth, as well as give you tips for improving your oral health.

We hope these tips have helped! To learn more about cavity prevention, or to schedule your next visit at our convenient Chicago office, please give us a call!

Considerations When Picking the Right Mouthwash

December 2nd, 2021

A solid oral health routine begins with daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Without a consistent oral health regimen, you may begin to experience tooth decay and bacterial infections. Few patients ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about different mouthwash options, so we’ve put together a list of the conditions that mouthwashes can treat. This should help you decide which oral rinse would be best for you.

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes reduce large amounts of bacteria on and near the gum line and generally help to decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. The key ingredients of antiseptic mouthwashes are antibacterial and antimicrobial items. Antiseptic mouthwash is a preferable option if you are concerned about the general gum health of your mouth.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a great tool for preventive tooth decay treatment. It prevents tooth decay and is great for oral health in general because it kills germs that can live in your mouth. Fluoride also builds stronger teeth. If you’re a bottled water drinker, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes may recommend that you purchase a simple fluoride rinse to use after brushing.

Bad Breath

Fluoride mouthwash can be used to fight any bad breath issues you may be facing. It’s designed to combat any bacteria that might be building up in your mouth. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate bad breath, but some are specifically designed to address this difficult problem. If you feel as though this might be turning into a chronic problem, please contact Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes to discuss other options that would be effective for treating your symptoms.

American Dental Association (ADA Approval)

The ADA reviews all mouth rinses for safety measures and to prove effectiveness. Any mouthwash approved by the ADA has met strict guidelines according to whether the manufacturer’s claims are supported with scientific evidence. If you’re looking for a quality mouthwash, look for one that has the ADA seal of approval to ensure you have a great rinse for your mouth.

Considerations

When you’re trying to decide which mouthwash to pick, contact our Chicago or ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes during your next appointment. If you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth, be sure to discontinue use immediately. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and be sure to keep all mouthwashes out of the reach of children, because they contain alcohol and other substances that could be harmful.

Can baby teeth get cavities?

December 1st, 2021

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd knows that every parent loves to hear his or her child say, "no cavities!" when leaving our office. Let's talk about why primary (baby) teeth get cavities, what you can do to help prevent them, and what Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can do if your child gets a cavity. It's a team effort!

Prevention is Key

A well-balanced diet high in protein, vitamins, and minerals (especially calcium and phosphorous) is an important part of cavity prevention. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) states that children should eat healthy snacks like cheese, vegetables, and yogurt, and drink milk. Limit hard candy and carbonated beverages, which have acid and can cause tooth decay. Also, do not put children to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice because sugary fluids pool around the teeth and gums, which promotes decay.

In addition to limiting sweets and scheduling regular visits at our Chicago office, make sure your child flosses once a day and brushes his or her teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. A good rule of thumb is if children can tie their shoelace, then they should be able to brush their teeth without help. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following basic brushing techniques:

  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short strokes
  • Brush the outer surfaces, inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all teeth.
  • To clean the inside surface of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

These tips will greatly increase cavity prevention; however, if your child gets a cavity, it will not heal on its own and must be fixed. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will remove the decayed part of the tooth and fill the hole where the decay was. You may wonder why it's important to fill baby teeth if they're going to fall out eventually. Baby teeth hold space for permanent teeth to grow in. If one is lost, teeth may shift and prevent a permanent tooth from growing in. In addition, a decayed tooth can become abscessed and cause pain. No fun!

Let’s work together to help your child develop good oral health habits that last a lifetime. Please contact our office if you have any questions about your child's diet or cavity prevention.

Thanksgiving in North America

November 25th, 2021

Thanksgiving marks the start to the holidays; a season filled with feasting, indulging, and spending time with family and friends are always special. Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for giving thanks, and while this may seem like such a natural celebration, the United States is only one of a handful of countries to officially celebrate with a holiday.

Unlike many holidays, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, and it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which is, oddly enough, much closer to a time when harvests were likely gathered. In addition to the different dates, the origins of the celebration also share different roots.

Thanksgiving in the United States

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest are not new, but the modern day holiday in the US can be traced to a celebration at Plymouth in Massachusetts in 1621. This feast of thanksgiving was inspired by a good harvest, and the tradition was simply continued on. At first, the colony at Plymouth didn't have enough food to feed everyone present, but the Native Americans helped by providing seeds and teaching them how to fish, and they soon began to be able to hold a feast worthy of the name. The tradition spread, and by the 1660s, most of New England was hosting a Thanksgiving feast in honor of the harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving

An explorer of early Canada named Martin Frobisher is accredited for the first Canadian Thanksgiving. He survived the arduous journey from England through harsh weather conditions and rough terrain, and after his last voyage from Europe to present-day Nunavut, he held a formal ceremony to give thanks for his survival and good fortune. As time passed and more settlers arrived, a feast was added to what quickly became a yearly tradition. Another explorer, Samuel de Champlain, is linked to the first actual Thanksgiving celebration in honor of a successful harvest; settlers who arrived with him in New France celebrated the harvest with a bountiful feast.

A Modern Thanksgiving

Today, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with the best of Americana. From feasts and football games to getting ready for the start of the Christmas shopping season, Thanksgiving means roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole. No matter how you celebrate this momentous day, pause for a moment to give thanks for your friends, family, and all the bounties you’ve received. Happy Thanksgiving from Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd!

Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2021

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we love to celebrate the holidays with vigor! Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes would love to share some unique ways of celebrating Thanksgiving from beyond the Chicago area to the national level!

When Americans sit down to dinner on the last Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the day on which Thanksgiving would be celebrated, they do so thinking that the first Thanksgiving feast was held at Plymouth in 1621. According to National Geographic, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez Coronado and his men celebrated a feast of Thanksgiving in Texas in 1541, giving Texas the distinction of being the first place where Thanksgiving was celebrated.

Different Types of Celebrations

Native Americans had rituals around which they celebrated in hopes of ensuring a bountiful harvest. The Cherokees had a Green Corn Dance that they did for this very purpose. The Pilgrims (not to be confused with the Puritans,) rejected any type of public religious display. They held a three-day long non-religious Thanksgiving feast. Although they said grace, the focus of their celebration was on feasting, drinking alcohol (they did have beer,) and playing games.

The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation celebrated a different day of Thanksgiving in 1623. Plagued by a crop-destroying drought, the settlers prayed for relief. They even fasted. A few days later, they got the rain they so desperately needed. Soon thereafter, they received another blessing when Captain Miles Standish came with staples they couldn't otherwise get. He also told them that a Dutch supply ship was en route. In gratitude for the abundance of good fortune, the Plymouth settlers celebrated a day of prayer and Thanksgiving on June 30, 1623.

The Story of Squanto

No discussion of Thanksgiving is complete without a discussion of Squanto, or Tisquantum, as he was known among his people, the Patuxet Indians. It is believed that he was born sometime around 1580. As he returned to his village after a long journey, he and several other Native Americans were kidnapped by Jamestown colonist, Thomas Hunt. Hunt put them on a ship heading to Spain where they were to be sold into slavery.

As fate would have it, some local friars rescued him and many of the other kidnapped natives. Squanto was educated by the friars. Eventually, after asking for freedom so he could return to North America, he ended up in London where he spent time working as a ship builder. By 1619, he was finally able to get passage on a ship headed to New England with other Pilgrims.

Upon arriving at Plymouth Rock, he learned that his entire tribe was wiped out by diseases that accompanied earlier settlers from Europe. In gratitude for passage on their ship, he helped them set up a settlement on the very land where his people once lived. They called the settlement Plymouth. Since they knew nothing about how to survive, let alone how to find food, Squanto taught them everything, from how to plant corn and other crops, how to fertilize them, how and where to get fish and eels and much more.

After a devastating winter during which many settlers died, thanks to Squanto's teaching, they had an abundant harvest. After that harvest, they honored him with a feast. It is this feast of 1621 which was celebrated between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians that is widely considered the first Thanksgiving celebration.

About the Meal of the Plymouth Settlers

Surviving journals of Edward Winslow that are housed at Plymouth Plantation indicate that the first Thanksgiving feast was nothing like what Americans eat today. The meal consisted of venison, various types of wild fowl (including wild turkey,) and Indian corn. There were no cranberries, stuffing, pumpkin pie, potatoes, or any of the other “traditional” foods that appear on modern menus.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the holiday. It is still a day of feasting, and for some, a day of prayer and thanksgiving. For others, it is a celebration of gathering, especially for families. Still others may celebrate in entirely different ways, including watching college football bowl games, or by playing family games.

If you ever wonder why you're so tired after the Thanksgiving meal, it's because turkey contains an amino acid, tryptophan, and it sets off chemicals whose chain reaction combine to make people sleepy.

Who’s afraid of the dentist?

November 18th, 2021

Is the sound of a drill enough to make your child flinch or cringe? Does he or she worry about the twice-yearly dental checkup at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd? Trust us when we say your child is not alone!

To help eliminate that distress, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team put together five steps to help your child overcome his or her dental anxiety when visiting Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd.

1. Ask your child what they’re most afraid of. Is it the sound of the drill? Do you have needle phobia? Has your child been traumatized by previous dental visits? Have children write down their fears, one by one, and talk about them.

2. Don’t wait. The more frequently your child visits our office, the less work will need to be done at any given visit. Simply having Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes professionally clean your child’s teeth twice a year prevents many, if not most, problems down the road.

3. Bring a distraction such as music to your child’s appointment. Just plug in those earphones, have your child close his or her eyes, and get lost in the music. Listening to tunes can also be a pain killer.

4. Remind your child to unwind. Inhaling slowly and counting to five helps. Encourage children to hold their breath for ten seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of eight, and repeat as needed. It’s easier if they’re not focused on the work going on inside their mouth.

5. Ask us. Before any procedure your child undergoes, we encourage you to ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes or one of our assistants why we’re using the tools we’re using. Ask us what we’re doing during your child’s procedure, what the tool is used for, and how it benefits your child. Also, please ask about anti-anxiety medications we may prescribe to help your child relax during his or her appointment.

Remember, our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd are health care professionals who strive to improve your child’s oral health, and will do all we can to ensure a trauma- and pain-free experience during his or her visit!

We hope these tips help! For more on pediatric dental anxieties, ask us during your next visit to our Chicago office! Or, ask us below or on Facebook!

When to Begin Dental Care for Your Child

November 17th, 2021

Children’s oral health differs from that of adults in a variety of ways. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team want you to understand how you can provide the best care for your son or daughter’s teeth. It’s essential to understand what your child will need from you when it comes to his or her oral health in those first few years.

In-home dental care begins when your baby starts to show signs of developing the first tooth. We recommend that you bring your child to our Chicago office between the ages of one and two. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will take a look at your child’s tooth development and gums during this first scheduled appointment.

The initial appointment with your little one is designed to get him or her accustomed to our office. We recommend allowing your child to be in the exam room alone with us during the first visit in order to become comfortable with our staff at an early age.

We will go over several general matters during your child’s first visit:

  • Look for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
  • Make sure your youngster doesn’t have gum disease or cavities
  • Examine your child’s bite, and check for misalignment that could lead to problems in the future
  • Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your son or daughter is old enough
  • Talk to you about proper oral health care for your
  • Give you some tips for brushing and flossing your child’s teeth
  • Answer any questions you may have about caring for your little one’s teeth

Once your child is old enough for his or her first visit to the dentist, you should begin to schedule regular cleanings every six months. If any problems arise before a scheduled appointment, call our Chicago location and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Remember, creating healthy oral health habits with your child early on is crucial. We’re here to guide you through this process and make sure your child is healthy and happy.  

How do I handle my child’s dental emergency?

November 11th, 2021

Kids are active, and with lots of activity comes the potential for mishaps. Before an emergency occurs, you’d be smart to stay informed about the problems your child may encounter.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind about teething pain, loose baby teeth, and other common dental issues.

Teething Pain

Discomfort while teething is common for babies from the time they are four months until they are about two and a half. Teething can cause drooling, tender gums, and irritability. To help relieve your child’s discomfort, gently rub his or her gums with wet gauze or offer a cold teething ring.

Loose Baby Tooth

It is normal for a child’s first set of teeth to become loose and fall out. If a tooth is knocked out by a forceful blow, however, you should make an appointment with our office to determine whether any damage may have occurred. You should also book an appointment if the baby tooth that’s on its way out develops a crack but doesn’t fully fall out.

Issues with Permanent Teeth

Sometimes, permanent teeth can come in before the baby teeth have fallen out. In this event, schedule an appointment with us even if your child does not report discomfort or pain. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will need to determine if the permanent teeth are coming in correctly to avoid problems later on.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums can have multiple causes: periodontal disease, rough brushing, or an injury to the gum tissue. If your child experiences heavy bleeding, it’s vital to call our office immediately. Wash the youngster’s mouth with warm salt water and put gentle pressure on the area to soothe it before your appointment.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team are always here to address any concerns you may have regarding your child’s dental health. Contact our Chicago office for emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Thumb Sucking, Pacifiers, and Your Baby's Teeth

November 10th, 2021

Sucking is a common instinct for babies and the use of a pacifier or their thumb offers a sense of safety and security, as well a way to relax.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the majority of children will stop using a pacifier and stop sucking their thumb on their own between the ages of two and four years of age. Prolonged thumb sucking or use of a pacifier can have dental consequences and needs be taken care of sooner, rather than later.

Many dentists favor pacifier use over thumb sucking because it makes it easier for parents to control and even limit the use of a pacifier. If thumb sucking lingers, the same strategies used to break the baby from using the pacifier can be used for thumb sucking.

Precautions

  • Try to find "orthodontically correct" pacifiers, as they may reduce the risk of dental problems.
  • Never dip a pacifier in sugar or honey to calm the baby.
  • Give your baby a bottle of water at bedtime, never juice.

Dental Complications

Long term pacifier use can lead to an assortment of dental complications including:

  • The bottom teeth leaning inward
  • The top teeth slanting outward
  • Misalignment of the baby’s jaw

The risk of any or all of these things happening is greatly increased if thumb sucking and pacifier use is sustained after the baby’s teeth start to come in.

Breaking the Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Habit

Most toddlers and children will stop sucking their thumb or using a pacifier between the ages of two and four on their own. However, if intervention is necessary here are a few tips to help your child break the habit:

  • Slowly decreasing the use of a pacifier can be effective for many children. This method does not work very well with thumb sucking.
  • Thumb sucking can be more difficult to break. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes may recommend using an over the counter cream that you put on the child’s thumb; it doesn’t taste good and usually does the trick.
  • Rewards can also help with the process.
  • If these simple commonly used strategies do not work, there are oral devices that will prevent a child from sucking their thumb or a pacifier.

Talk to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team, as we have many tricks up our sleeves that will be effective in breaking your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use.

Kids and Teeth Grinding

November 4th, 2021

Grind, grind, grind… if your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd also call bruxism, is common in children. In fact, three out of ten kids grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their teenage years.

Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they’re doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, or shoulder pain. In most cases, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.

There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will tell you that teeth grinding is not something to take lightly. Teeth grinding can have serious consequences that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.

The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:

  • Grinding noises when your child is sleeping
  • Complaints of tightness or pain in the jaw
  • Complaints of headaches, earaches, or facial pain
  • Complaints of pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth

If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team will be able to help. Please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office! We look forward to treating your child!

Halloween: Sweet candy and scary costumes!

October 28th, 2021

Halloween is an annual event celebrated by both children and adults every October 31. Some scholars claim that it originates from the celebration of Celtic festivals that honored the dead and harvest season. This day marks the end of summer, and the transition to cold winter months ahead. No matter what the origin may be, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team hope all our patients have a fun and safe Halloween!

The History of Halloween

North America predominantly celebrates Halloween by dressing up in costumes, going trick-or-treating to collect candy, and eating an abnormal amount of sweets. This tradition goes back hundreds of years and usually involves celebrations throughout the month of October.

Halloween festivities can also include carving pumpkins, going on hayrides, visiting apple orchards and haunted houses, watching scary movies, attending costume parties, and much more!

Spooky Facts

  • Fifty percent of kids prefer to receive chocolate candy for Halloween, compared with 24% who prefer non-chocolate candy and 10% who preferred gum.
  • One quarter of all the candy sold each year in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.
  • The first jack o’ lanterns were actually made from turnips.
  • Halloween is the second highest-grossing commercial holiday after Christmas.
  • The largest pumpkin ever measured broke the world record in 1993 by weighing in at 836 lbs.

Worried about your child’s teeth?

  • Limit the amount of candy he or she consumes each day.
  • Have your child brush his or her teeth after eating candy.
  • Avoid hard, chewy candies, because they can stick in hard-to-brush places.
  • Keep candy out of sight to reduce temptation.
  • Don’t buy candy too far in advance so you can limit pre-Halloween consumption.
  • Help or encourage your kids to floss.

Moderation is key when it comes to your oral health and celebrating Halloween. Make sure to schedule your child’s next appointment at our Chicago office if you notice any issues with his or her teeth. We hope you have a fun and spooky Halloween!

Halloween: Candy, costumes, and more!

October 27th, 2021

All Hallows' Eve, more commonly known as Halloween, is a yearly event celebrated on October 31, and one that is anticipated by the young and young at heart all over the world. Some scholars claim that Halloween originated from Celtic festivals that honored the dead or that celebrated the harvest, while others doubt that there's any connection at all to Samhain (a Gaelic harvest festival.) Regardless of its origin, our team at the dental office of Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes hopes that Halloween is fun and enjoyed by all of our awesome patients!

Trick or treat?

In North America, Halloween is predominantly celebrated by children who dress up in costumes, which range from scary to cute, who then go around the neighborhood knocking on doors asking "trick or treat", and they are given candy in return. Trick-or-treating is a time honored tradition, and though many parents groan at the pounds and pounds of candy collected by youngsters and fear for the health of their teeth, there are a few things you can do to help their teeth stay in great shape until the candy is gone:

  • Limit the amount of candy they can consume each day
  • Have them brush their teeth after eating candy
  • Avoid hard, chewy candies as they can stick in hard to brush places
  • Keep candy out of sight to reduce temptation
  • Don't buy candy too far in advance to limit pre-Halloween consumption
  • Help or encourage your children to floss

Halloween Fun

Halloween isn't just about gorging on candy; there are other events associated with this festive day including carving jack-o'-lanterns, painting pumpkins, decorating sugar cookies, bobbing for apples, going to haunted houses, or just curling up on the couch with a bowl full of popcorn and watching some classic, scary movies.

Halloween Around the World

Some countries, like Australia, frown upon Halloween, claiming it is an American event and not based in Australian culture, while others like Italy have embraced the fun and celebrate much as Canadians and Americans do. Mexicans have been celebrating this fun day since around 1960, and it marks the beginning of the Day of the Dead festival. Some countries in Europe have come late to the party, but since the 1990s, countries like Sweden, Norway, and Germany have started celebrating Halloween as well, and finding children in costumes or having ghosts hanging in windows has become commonplace.

Halloween is about fun; stepping outside our normal lives and donning a costume or gathering with friends to knock on doors and ask for candy is as much a part of our culture as hot dogs and barbecue on Labor Day. Have a safe and happy Halloween from the team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd!

Preventing Toddler Tooth Decay

October 21st, 2021

You do everything you can to protect your toddler with safeguards large and small. Installing that complicated car seat. Figuring out which sunscreen is best for delicate skin. Spending weeks childproofing your home. But all the work protecting your child is more than worth it because the rewards are so great. And one more everyday precaution that brings great rewards is protecting your toddler from tooth decay.

  • Start Early

The time to start your baby’s dental care is even before that first tooth arrives. Carefully wiping the gums with a clean, damp cloth after feeding gets your child used to the idea of brushing and removes bacteria that might irritate the gums as the teeth begin to erupt. As soon as those teeth arrive, gentle brushing with soft bristles will keep bacteria and plaque from causing tooth decay and gingivitis. We can recommend toothpastes formulated especially for toddlers and suggest the best ways to brush.

  • Mind The Menu

We know that sugary foods aren’t healthy for your toddler’s teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feeds on sugar, and a sugar-heavy diet results in more of the bacteria and plaque which cause cavities. But sugar is not the only food that is not tooth-friendly. For example, foods like citrus fruits and juices can also be a problem. Acidic foods can actually weaken enamel after eating and leave teeth more vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria and plaque. We have suggestions for tooth-healthy snacks and the best times to brush after eating if you and your child indulge in a treat.

  • Don’t Misuse Bottles & Sippy Cups

Your toddler might still use a bottle at night or a sippy cup throughout the day. Juices and even milk contain sugar that increases the risk of cavities, and if your child goes to sleep with a bottle or cup, these liquids pool in the mouth overnight allowing bacteria to flourish.  If your toddler wants a drink at night or between meals, water is a much better option.

Those tiny teeth are important for so many reasons. They enable children to bite and chew efficiently, to pronounce sounds properly for speech development, and to save space for adult teeth so they erupt in the right place. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team recommend that your child visit our Chicago office after the first tooth comes in, and always by the first birthday. We will make sure your toddler’s teeth are developing as they should be and suggest ways to keep them cavity-free. Your toddler’s healthy, beautiful smile is a reward worth protecting!

What to Do When Your Child Has a Loose Tooth

October 20th, 2021

When your child loses a tooth for the first time, you both have a lot to look forward to. Sharing in the “I’m a big kid!” excitement. Tales of the Tooth Fairy or other traditions to mark the occasion. Seeing the start of a beautiful grown-up smile.

But before that baby tooth wiggles all the way out of your child’s mouth, let’s talk about how to handle a loose baby tooth.

  • Be mindful of your children’s feelings. Reassure them that this is a normal part of growing up. If they are anxious about losing a tooth, there are children’s books which can help ease their fears in a soothing and entertaining way.
  • Crunchy and healthy foods like carrot sticks and apple slices can help the tooth fall out naturally—and nutritiously!
  • Encourage careful wiggling. No need for children to yank or pull—time, and a child’s own gentle wiggling with tongue or clean hands, should do the trick. If wiggling the tooth is painful, it might not be ready to come out just yet.
  • If a tooth absolutely is ready, but just won’t come out, you can help your child without resorting to a string and a doorknob. Give our Chicago office a call for some suggestions for helping that baby tooth on its way to the Tooth Fairy in a timely—and gentle—fashion.

And if a tooth is clearly loose before its time? Should you encourage its exit?

Probably not. Baby teeth are temporary, but they’re important for your child’s development. They help with speech production, eating and chewing, and serve as placeholders so that permanent teeth can erupt in the right spot at the right time.

There are some situations when a loose baby tooth means a visit to the dentist is in order:

  • Baby teeth usually fall out over a period of years, generally from ages 6 through 12. Since children’s teeth tend to fall out in the same order they arrived, if a molar is loose before the front teeth start to wiggle, give your dentist a call.
  • If your child suffers a fall, or a sports injury, or any kind of accident that leaves a tooth or teeth loose, call your doctor or dentist right away to make sure there are no serious injuries or chance for infection.
  • Any time you feel a tooth is loose that shouldn’t be, make an appointment with your child’s dentist.

Finally, we’ve been talking about loose baby teeth, but loose permanent teeth are another matter entirely.

If you child has a loose permanent tooth due to an injury, or a bad bite, or night-time bruxism (tooth-grinding), or for any other reason, it’s important to call for an appointment immediately. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will be able to pinpoint the cause of the problem and can offer some solutions. In the meantime,

  • Make sure your child eats soft foods, and tries to eat on the opposite side of the loose tooth.
  • Keep the area clean with gentle rinsing instead of brushing and flossing.
  • Tell your child not to wiggle it! If the bone or ligaments holding the tooth in place have been damaged, playing with the tooth can make it looser.

A loose baby tooth is a step in your child’s journey to a beautiful, healthy adult smile. Reassure, encourage, and help your child through this rite of passage—and don’t hesitate to call on Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes for advice!

Navigating the World of Dental Insurance Terminology

October 14th, 2021

Unless you work for an insurance company, you probably do not spend a lot of your time studying all the terminology that dental insurance companies use to describe the treatments and services they cover. If it seems pretty confusing, here are some of the most commonly used dental insurance terms and what they mean.

A Basic Glossary

Annual Maximum–The maximum amount your policy will pay per year for care at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd. It is often divided into costs per individual, and (if you are on a family plan) per family

Co-payment– An amount the patient pays at the time of service before receiving care, and before the insurance pays for any portion of the care

Covered Services– A list of all the treatments, services, and procedures the insurance policy will cover under your contract

Deductible– A dollar amount that you must pay out of pocket each year before the insurance company will pay for any treatments or procedures

Diagnostic/Preventive Services– A category of treatments or procedures that most insurance will cover before the deductible which may include services like preventive appointments with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, X-rays, and evaluations

In-Network and Out-of-Network– A list of providers that are part of an insurance company’s “network”

  • If you visit in-network providers, the insurance company will typically cover a larger portion of the cost of the care you receive. If you visit someone who is not part of the network, known as an out-of-network provider, the insurance company may pay for a portion of the care, but you will pay a significantly larger share from your own pocket.

Lifetime Maximum– The maximum amount that an insurance plan will pay toward care for an individual or family (if you have an applicable family plan)

  • This is not a per-year maximum, but rather a maximum that can be paid over the entire life of the patient.

Limitations/Exclusions– A list of all the procedures an insurance policy does not cover

  • Coverage may limit the timing or frequency of a specific treatment or procedure (only covering a certain number within a calendar year), or may exclude some treatments entirely. Knowing the limitations and exclusions of a policy is very important.

Member/Insured/Covered Person/Beneficiary/Enrollee– Someone who is eligible to receive benefits under an insurance plan

Provider– Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes or other oral health specialist who provides treatment

Waiting Period– A specified amount of time that the patient must be enrolled with an insurance plan before it will pay for certain treatments; waiting periods may be waived if you were previously enrolled in another dental insurance plan with a different carrier

There are many different insurance options available, so you need to find out exactly what your insurance covers. It’s important to review your plan with a qualified insurance specialist. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the policy so you can understand it fully and be confident that you know everything your policy covers the next time you come in for treatment at our Chicago office.

Five Fun Snacks for Healthy Teeth

October 13th, 2021

Snacks can taste good and give your child’s energy a boost, but they can also be bad for teeth. Sugary, sticky snacks, such as candy, cookies, and snack cakes can lead to tooth decay if eaten regularly between meals. Still, there are plenty of fun snacks for healthy teeth.

The trick when selecting snacks is to avoid too many added sugars and refined carbohydrates that stay on the teeth and give bacteria a chance to ferment and produce acid from them, which can lead to tooth decay. In addition, snacks should provide nutrients to support a healthy mouth. These are five fun snacks you can feel good about giving to your child.

1. Yogurt and cereal.

Yogurt contains calcium, which is an essential mineral for strong and healthy teeth. Select plain yogurt or yogurt flavored with real fruit, rather than flavored yogurt that is sweetened with added sugar. We recommend choosing a whole-grain cereal, which is less likely to lead to dental caries. Choose a low-sugar or unsweetened cereal to avoid accidentally making the snack as sugary as a candy bar.

2. Tuna and whole-wheat crackers.

Canned tuna contains vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin for helping your body absorb and use calcium. Whole-wheat crackers are natural sources of antioxidants for a strong immune system, and they’re lower in refined carbohydrates than white crackers.

3. Bell pepper strips and hummus.

Red, yellow, and green bell peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Vitamin C is also a good choice for supporting regeneration or maintenance of healthy gum tissue. Vitamin E is another antioxidant, and it also supports a healthy immune system. A strong immune system is protective against infections, such as bacterial infections associated with gum disease.

4. Turkey and cheese roll-ups.

Turkey is carbohydrate-free, so it doesn’t leave residues of sugars on teeth for bacteria to ferment. Lean ham is another good choice. Low-fat cheddar, mozzarella, or Swiss cheese is a good source of calcium as well as protein. For a more substantial snack that’s still low in carbohydrates and sugar, add a few celery sticks.

5. Peanut butter and carrots.

Peanut butter is another source of vitamin E. Carrots provide vitamin A, which is essential for a strong immune system. You can also substitute cauliflower or broccoli florets for the carrots, and ranch dressing for the peanut butter, and still have a snack that’s fun to eat and good for your child’s teeth.

For more great snack tips, ask a member of our Chicago team at your child’s next appointment!

What's on your fall reading list?

October 7th, 2021

How better to spend the fall months than inside by the fireplace with a warm cup of cider and a book in hand? Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd encourage you to warm up your mind this fall season with a few great books. Sure it may be easy to put off reading when balancing a hectic schedule, but reading is vital to brain development. Besides, reading is always a blast!

This week, we thought we’d ask what you or your child are reading this fall. Do you have any suggestions for must-read books this year? Out of ideas for great fall reads? Ask us for suggestions, and we would be happy to provide a few. You may also ask a local librarian here in Chicago for some ideas.

Happy reading! Be sure to share with us your fall picks or your all-time favorites below or on our Facebook page!

Year-End Insurance Reminder

October 6th, 2021

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, as well as our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, would like to give those patients with flex spend, health savings, or insurance benefits a friendly end of the year reminder that it’s high time to schedule your dental visits so you optimize your benefit.

Now is the time to reserve your appointment with us. Space is limited and we tend to get busy around the holidays, so don’t wait to give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

Make Brushing With Your Child Fun!

September 30th, 2021

It’s no secret that kids and adults have different priorities: your duty is to raise a happy, healthy child, but your little one’s only priority may be to have fun. When it comes to brushing teeth, it can be hard to combine a healthy habit with having fun. You might fear it can’t be done, but with a little creativity, brushing time can be a great experience for both of you!

Make It a Party

Brushing time doesn’t have to be a chore when you throw a little party! Get Mom and Dad together so the whole family can brush their teeth at the same time.

Let your child choose a song to dance to while you all brush for the required two minutes. Your son or daughter may grow to love this silly routine, especially when the parents are clearly dedicated to brushing their own teeth as well.

Big Kid Decisions

Kids love the responsibility of making “big kid” decisions. Keep a variety of toothbrushes, colors of floss, and toothpaste flavors on hand so they can choose something “new” each time they brush, just like when they visit our Chicago office.

Not only can this help them grow more comfortable with the idea of seeing the dentist, but they’ll love having the responsibility of picking what would be fun at brush time.

Practice Makes Perfect

It’s true that the only way to get better at something is to practice, practice, and practice. Have your child practice brushing on his or her favorite stuffed animal, and use that opportunity to teach your youngster how to hold the brush and use circular cleaning motions. Showing how you brush your own teeth can also be worthwhile.

There’s An App For That

Did you know there are lots of fun apps that encourage good brushing habits among children? Brands like Oral-B and Aquafresh have free apps you can download on your phone.

The child gets to select a character, scenery, and a song he or she would love to accompany the task of brushing. If you have a daughter, she might like to use the Tooth Fairy Timer, which allows her to pick her very own fairy as her brushing buddy.

The important things to remember when you seek to establish good brushing habits is to keep it fun and stay consistent with your routine. It may take some getting used to, but after a while your child will become familiar with brushing and might even look forward to the new dental routine.

Creating a Dental Home

September 29th, 2021

As a parent, you know how important a happy, relaxed atmosphere is when it comes to making your child feel at home. We would like to make our Chicago practice your dental home, where you and your family enjoy the best of dental care in a warm and welcoming environment.

What makes a dental home?

  • It’s Welcoming

From your child’s first visit, we strive to make you both feel at ease. Our office is designed to be a happy, entertaining, and relaxing place, and our staff is trained in making little ones feel calm and secure. We want to have a lasting relationship, and we want you and your child to feel welcomed back whenever you return.

  • It’s Familiar

We recommend visiting our office for the first time by the time of your child’s first tooth or first birthday. Our early visits are designed to make your child familiar with what a dentist does and how a dentist helps keep children healthy. Regular preventative care will keep those little teeth in great shape, and, if your child has a cavity that needs filling or requires any other dental procedure, we will have a history together and a familiar place to experience an unfamiliar treatment.

  • It’s Comfortable

We use state-of-the-art dentistry to make sure your child has the best and most comfortable treatment as a patient, and we also consider the psychological aspect of each visit for your particular child. We are experienced in dealing with children who might feel anxious and working with them to overcome their worries. Part of our job is to make each visit a happy one, so your child is always comfortable visiting us.

  • It’s Ongoing

We want to establish a relationship that will last through the years. Continuity of care means that we are able to follow your child’s dental development during those active growing years and the transition from primary to permanent teeth. We provide not only dental health education, treatment, and preventive care, but can track any changes or potential problems before they become major issues. In case of a dental emergency, we will be familiar with your child personally, and with a dental history at hand.

Give Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes a call to talk about your child and how we can make the dental experience a positive one from the very beginning. When it comes to establishing a happy and healthy foundation for your child’s dental history, there’s no place like our dental home!

When should my child start using toothpaste and how much should I use?

September 23rd, 2021

As a parent, it is your job to instill good dental habits in your kids, and this starts even earlier than you might realize. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry responds to the “when to start” question with a succinct “The sooner the better!”

From the time your baby is born, you should make sure that your child’s gums are regularly cleaned using water and a toothbrush made for infants. Once the first tooth erupts, you should visit the pediatric dentist for the first time. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our staff often recommend that if your child is a year old, but has yet to get the first tooth, you should bring your son or daughter to our Chicago office for his or her initial dental care appointment.

Once your child’s teeth start to appear, you can begin brushing two times per day, using fluoride toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush made specifically for your child’s age group, and one with has soft bristles.

Only a small smear of toothpaste is needed if your child is under two years old. Once the child celebrates his or her second birthday, you can use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Continue this practice until your child is five.

Of course, it is important that you monitor your child’s tooth brushing closely to help educate about proper techniques. Some young children might try to eat or swallow toothpaste, and this needs to be strongly discouraged. Be sure to teach proper rinsing and spitting behavior to round out your child’s early childhood tooth-care regimen.

For young kids, tooth brushing can be made into a fun event, and you can find a multitude of special toothbrushes that appeal to kids. There are even uniquely flavored and colored toothpastes that might encourage your child to get into the brushing game!

Can my child really avoid tooth decay?

September 22nd, 2021

Great question! Yes, in fact, tooth decay is preventable! Decay, which is caused by sugars left in your child’s mouth, can turn into an acid, which in turn can break down his or her teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits.

So, how can your child prevent tooth decay?

  • Start early. After the age of two, brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. And, if possible, clean between the teeth with dental floss at least once a day, preferably before they go to bed.
  • Don’t allow your little ones to eat after cleaning teeth at bedtime, as salivary flow decreases while they sleep and their teeth become vulnerable to cavities.
  • Do not allow your little ones to nibble food or sip drinks continuously, and keep in mind that a low-sugar diet also helps keep tooth decay at bay. Allow time between meals for saliva to neutralize acids and repair the teeth.
  • Drinking water frequently throughout the day can also reduce the possibility of new cavities forming.
  • Dental sealants can also protect your children’s teeth from cavities. Sealants, which are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars, act as a shield between the tooth and harmful bacteria.

Finally, make sure your child visits Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd approximately every six months for a checkup and routine cleaning! Please give us a call at our Chicago office.

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

September 16th, 2021

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

Gum Disease and Your Child

September 15th, 2021

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we know that unfortunately, gum disease can exist in your child’s mouth without you even knowing. In fact, your child may be suffering from the beginning stages of periodontal (gum) disease without noticing any pain or discomfort. Since gum disease can be undetectable, it’s critical to watch for the warning signs in order to prevent the disease from growing worse!

If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes as soon as possible:

  • Gums that are red or swollen
  • Gums that feel tender
  • Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are receding
  • Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loose teeth
  • Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position

If your child is experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment right away by calling our Chicago office. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team can diagnose the problem and begin treatment to save your child’s teeth!

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd looks forward to seeing you!

How do I handle my child’s dental emergency?

September 9th, 2021

With children undergoing developmental dental changes and engaging in rough-and-tumble activities, dental emergencies can sometimes arise. If your child knocks out a tooth or experiences any type of oral discomfort, call Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd right away so we can provide you with a quick assessment and pain-free treatment.

Before an emergency occurs, it’s a good idea to stay informed about the problems your child may encounter. Here are a few things you should keep in mind about teething pain, loose baby teeth, and other common dental issues.

Teething Pain

Typically occurring in babies that are between four months and two and a half years old, teething may cause excessive drooling, tender gums, and some irritability. Giving your baby a cold teething ring or gently rubbing her gums with wet gauze or your finger may also make her feel better.

Loose Baby Tooth

It is normal for a child’s first set of teeth to become loose and fall out. On the other hand, if your child’s baby tooth is knocked loose, schedule an appointment with our office so we can assess whether any damage has been done.

Issues with Permanent Teeth

Sometimes a child’s permanent teeth will grow in before the baby teeth have fallen out. Even if this condition isn’t causing any discomfort, you should schedule an appointment with our office so we can determine whether your child’s permanent teeth are growing in correctly.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums can result from a number of factors, including periodontal disease, rough brushing, or an injury to the gum tissue. If your child’s gums are bleeding heavily, call our office right away so we can address the situation. If you have time before your appointment, wash your child’s mouth with salted water and gently put pressure on the affected area.

Regardless of the type of dental issue your child has, you can always consult Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes for further guidance. We make sure our emergency services are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, so you have ready access to convenient and professional dental care that will have your child feeling better in no time.

What is a water pick and do I need one?

September 8th, 2021

Water picks, sometimes called “oral irrigators,” make an excellent addition to your regular home care regimen of brushing and flossing. Especially helpful to those who suffer from periodontal disease and those patients of ours undergoing orthodontic treatment with full-bracketed braces, water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to dislodge food scraps, bacteria, and other debris nestled in the crevices of your mouth. Children undergoing orthodontic treatment may find using a water pick is beneficial if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on their wires or brackets.

When you use a water pick, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging the gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. While water picks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are incapable of fully removing plaque, which is why Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don't cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

So how do you choose the right water pick?

Water picks are available for home or portable use. The home versions tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models suggest using water only.

Please give us a call at our Chicago office if you have any questions about water picks, or ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes during your next visit!

Happy Labor Day!

September 2nd, 2021

Labor Day is upon us, and that means the non-official end to summer. Before the kids head back to school and temperatures start to cool down, this is your last chance to barbeque in the beautiful Chicago community, head to the lake, and wear your favorite pair of white pants.

About Labor Day

Each year, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is the one day of year Americans celebrate their achievements in work, which the US Department of Labor says has contributed to prosperity and well-being of America as a whole. Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since the 1880s, and today it is an official federal holiday.

Interesting Facts About Labor Day

  • Every year, more than 30 million Americans travel over Labor Day weekend.
  • Canada was the first to celebrate Labor Day, and the US soon followed.
  • President Cleveland made Labor Day and official US holiday in 1894.
  • Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and NCAA sports seasons for fans.
  • Labor Day marks the end of hot dog season, when Americans consume seven billion hot dogs.

Thanks for being a valued patient of our dental office. Our staff would like to wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your time off!

Celebrate Labor Day by Getting Away

September 1st, 2021

Labor Day honors the contributions that workers have made to this country, and for many Americans, the holiday is a great time to relax at home with family and friends. But there are quite a few people who celebrate the holiday by getting out of town, with an estimated 33 million people traveling more than 50 miles over Labor Day weekend each year. If you’re dreaming of a great Labor Day escape but you’re not quite sure where to go, here are a few ideas from our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd to give you some travel inspiration.

Explore a National Park

On a national holiday like Labor Day, it’s only fitting to experience the beauty of America’s landscapes by heading to the nearest national park. If you’re confined to an office most days of the year, national parks can provide a relaxing and scenic escape, whether you’re by yourself, traveling with a group of friends, or bringing the whole family along. Depending on how close you live to the nearest park, you can stay for an afternoon or for longer than a week. With 58 parks located in 27 states, there are plenty of beautiful areas to choose from.

Chow Down in a BBQ Haven

Barbecuing is a popular Labor Day activity, but instead of sweating over your own grill or oven, try visiting one of the country’s BBQ capitals. U.S. News and World Report names Memphis as the top BBQ destination, with more than 80 BBQ restaurants in the city, most notably Corky’s BBQ and Central BBQ. Kansas City is also known for the sweet taste of its sauces, while central Texas is said to have perfected the technique of smoking tender and flavorful brisket.

Relax on the Beach

Many people think of Labor Day as the unofficial start of fall, which brings cooler temperatures, more rain, and for many people, an end to lazy days at the beach. End your beach days with a bang by taking a trip to one of the coasts or to a lakeside beach. For an added dose of festivity, find a city or town that celebrates the occasion with a fireworks display over the water.

Whether you’re looking to turn your getaway into a full week affair or you simply want to experience a quick escape, make the most of your holiday by changing your surrounding scenery. Happy Labor Day from the dental practice of Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes!

Can children be at risk for periodontal disease?

August 26th, 2021

You want to check all the boxes when you consider your child’s dental health. You make sure your child brushes twice daily to avoid cavities. You’ve made a plan for an orthodontic checkup just in case braces are needed. You insist on a mouthguard for dental protection during sports. One thing you might not have considered? Protecting your child from gum disease.

We often think about gum disease, or periodontitis, as an adult problem. In fact, children and teens can suffer from gingivitis and other gum disease as well. There are several possible reasons your child might develop gum disease:

  • Poor dental hygiene

Two minutes of brushing twice a day is the recommended amount of time to remove the bacteria and plaque that cause gingivitis (early gum disease). Flossing is also essential for removing bacteria and plaque from hard-to-reach areas around the teeth.

  • Puberty

The hormones that cause puberty can also lead to gums that become irritated more easily when exposed to plaque. This is a time to be especially proactive with dental health.

  • Medical conditions

Medical conditions such as diabetes can bring an increased risk of gum disease. Be sure to give us a complete picture of your child’s health, and we will let you know if there are potential complications for your child’s gums and teeth and how we can respond to and prevent them.

  • Periodontal diseases

More serious periodontal diseases, while relatively uncommon, can affect children and teens as well as adults. Aggressive periodontitis, for example, results in connective and bone tissue loss around the affected teeth, leading to loose teeth and even tooth loss. Let Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes know if you have a family history of gum disease, as that might be a factor in your child’s dental health, and tell us if you have noticed any symptoms of gum disease.

How can we help our children prevent gum disease? Here are some symptoms you should never ignore:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Redness or puffiness in the gums
  • Gums that are pulling away, or receding, from the teeth
  • Bad breath even after brushing

The best treatment for childhood gum disease is prevention. Careful brushing and flossing and regular visits to our Chicago office for a professional cleaning will stop gingivitis from developing and from becoming a more serious form of gum disease. We will take care to look for any signs of gum problems, and have suggestions for you if your child is at greater risk for periodontitis. Together, we can encourage gentle and proactive gum care, and check off one more goal accomplished on your child’s path to lifelong dental health!

Beat the Brushing Battle

August 25th, 2021

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team know it can be a challenge to get our children to brush, brush well, and brush often. Here are some tips that can help you keep those beautiful little teeth healthy.

Make it Fun, Make it a Habit!

We should all brush twice a day. The most important time to brush is at night before bed. When we sleep, our saliva production decreases, and this creates an environment for oral bacteria to cause greater destruction to our teeth and gums. Brushing should last at least two minutes, followed by flossing and mouthwash if you choose.

Here are some ideas to make this nightly ritual more entertaining.

  • Set a good example. Brush your teeth with your children and make it fun! Pick a song to play while brushing.
  • Make it a race to the bathroom to see who can get their toothbrush and floss ready. But don’t make it a race to finish; make sure brushing lasts at least two minutes.
  • Try using a sticker sheet. For every night your children brush well, give them a sticker. (Be sure to check their work.) After a certain number of stickers, they earn a reward. Let them pick the reward! As the child improves at brushing every night without reminders, you can wean her or him from the reward.
  • SPECIAL TIP: Let your child check your brush work!

As parents, we should help our children make health and wellness something to take pride in. Be gentle with your children when they make mistakes, whether forgetting to brush or maybe developing a cavity. Tell them even our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd gets cavities. Thankfully, there is always room for improvement. Happy brushing!

Beat the Brushing Battle

August 25th, 2021

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team know it can be a challenge to get our children to brush, brush well, and brush often. Here are some tips that can help you keep those beautiful little teeth healthy.

Make it Fun, Make it a Habit!

We should all brush twice a day. The most important time to brush is at night before bed. When we sleep, our saliva production decreases, and this creates an environment for oral bacteria to cause greater destruction to our teeth and gums. Brushing should last at least two minutes, followed by flossing and mouthwash if you choose.

Here are some ideas to make this nightly ritual more entertaining.

  • Set a good example. Brush your teeth with your children and make it fun! Pick a song to play while brushing.
  • Make it a race to the bathroom to see who can get their toothbrush and floss ready. But don’t make it a race to finish; make sure brushing lasts at least two minutes.
  • Try using a sticker sheet. For every night your children brush well, give them a sticker. (Be sure to check their work.) After a certain number of stickers, they earn a reward. Let them pick the reward! As the child improves at brushing every night without reminders, you can wean her or him from the reward.
  • SPECIAL TIP: Let your child check your brush work!

As parents, we should help our children make health and wellness something to take pride in. Be gentle with your children when they make mistakes, whether forgetting to brush or maybe developing a cavity. Tell them even our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd gets cavities. Thankfully, there is always room for improvement. Happy brushing!

Is dairy crucial to my child's oral health?

August 19th, 2021

Healthy eating, combined with regular physical activity, plays a vital role in your child’s health and well-being. Dairy foods are naturally nutritious, packed with ten essential nutrients that help your child feel good for life. But did you know that dairy is also great for your child’s dental health? Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd will tell you that, in addition to providing large amounts of much-needed calcium, dairy products also help fight cavities! Dairy products have a specific role to play in dental health as they contain a unique combination of special anti-decay nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and the protein, casein. Cheese is especially useful, as eating a small piece of cheese after consuming sugary foods or drinks can help protect teeth and reduce the risk of tooth decay.

If you’d like to know more about the importance of dairy products in your child’s diet, or about any aspect of your child’s dental health, feel free to ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at your next appointment!

How to Make Brushing Fun

August 18th, 2021

Let’s call it the cranky phase. Let’s call it the “Mom, I don’t want to” stage. When kids are little, getting them to brush can be a challenge. They bite the toothbrush and eat the toothpaste. They make faces in the bathroom mirror, brush for two seconds, and run away. When it’s time to brush, some kids even resort to kicking and screaming, which makes the bedtime chore a lot like, well, pulling teeth.

As a parent, you know the importance of good oral hygiene, so when the dreaded “brushing hour” arrives, if you want to prevent your child from turning into an angry pumpkin, you better have a few tricks up your sleeve to make brushing fun.

Game time

Kids love games, so it’s time to get creative and turn tooth brushing into game time. Whether you’re playing a hide and seek, peek-a-boo game with your child as he or she brushes, or singing the ABC’s as your child brushes for two minutes, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommend turning the process into play. Games are based on a reward system, right? If your child does a good job, put a sticker on the calendar. Tell your son or daughter that five stickers will earn a treat at the end of the week.

Fun accessories

A toothbrush that lights up and blinks when you turn it on is more fun than a traditional toothbrush from the dentist’s office. The same is true of a toothbrush that’s shaped like your child’s favorite animal or features a cartoon character. A fun accessory like a Smurfs or Angry Birds toothbrush might make all the difference. A timer is another fun accessory. Give your child the special responsibility of setting it for two minutes before brushing.

The Great Toothpaste Experiment

Kids can be notoriously picky eaters, so it stands to reason that they would be picky about their toothpaste flavors too. Little Johnny might like strawberry, whereas Suzie prefers mango. Spend a night experimenting with different flavors (yes, it’s another game). Say something like, “It’s just like sampling different flavors of ice cream, right kids?”

Eventually, your child will develop the healthy habit of brushing on a regular basis, and think nothing of the time it takes to clean his or her teeth. Just remember to make it fun, and it can be a great experience for you both!

To learn more about making brushing fun for your little one, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

When do children usually lose their baby teeth?

August 12th, 2021

Many parents worry that their children’s teeth are not falling out on time. A lot of concerned parents want to know: When will my child lose his or her first baby tooth? At what age should the last tooth fall out? Is there a specific order in which the teeth are lost?

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team explain that a child's 20 baby teeth (primary teeth) typically come in by age three and begin to loosen and fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth, which usually appear by the time your child is six. It is important to know that timing may vary, and girls typically lose their baby teeth earlier than boys. The last baby teeth will likely fall out by the time your child is 13.

So, which teeth do children lose first? Baby teeth tend to fall out in the order in which they came, which means the lower center incisors are usually the first to go when your child is between six and seven years old. The next teeth your child will lose are his or her top center pair, also called the upper central incisors.

It’s important to note that if a child loses a baby tooth early as a result of decay or an unforeseen accident, his or her permanent tooth may erupt early and potentially come in crooked due to limited space. If your child suffers an injury or has tooth decay, we encourage you to give us a call to set up an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

While we know some children couldn’t be more excited to lose their baby teeth, we know others are anxious about this childhood milestone. When your child starts to lose teeth, our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd encourages you to stress the importance of proper dental care on a daily basis.

Remember to:

  • Remind your child to brush his or her teeth at least twice a day. Supervise and offer assistance as needed.
  • Help your child floss his or her teeth at bedtime.
  • Limit eating and drinking between meals and at bedtime, especially sugary treats and drinks, such as candy and soda.
  • Schedule regular dental visits for your child every six months.
  • Ask about the use of fluoride treatments and dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child's next visit with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at our Chicago office, please give us a call today!

What are Sealants?

August 11th, 2021

Sealants offer many benefits, but the best is their ability to protect your molars. Molars are full of small caverns that can be the perfect breeding ground for tooth decay and plaque buildup.

Use of protective sealants prevents this buildup from happening. Although children often receive sealants for routine preventive care, they aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this treatment. Sealants can also help adults who have deep canyons or grooves in their teeth.

They are commonly placed on the rear molars that tend to suffer the most decay. Because your molars are used substantially as grinding surfaces, food is more likely to be trapped among them.

Sealant solution consists a composite material that contains bonding agents that seal the top of your teeth. The process is quick and painless, which makes it a great solution for both children and adults who have had trouble with cavities and tooth decay. Sealants also last for several years, and repair is a simple process that can be completed by Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

The process of putting sealants on teeth starts with the tooth getting cleaned. We clean it with a type of baking soda spray called sodium bicarbonate. Then acid is etched onto the teeth to rough up the surface.

We apply an alcohol-based liquid to dry the area where the sealant is supposed to go. After it completely covers the surface of the treated teeth, the sealant is cured with a light that makes it hard and long-lasting.

Getting sealants can prevent the possible restorative costs that come from cavities. Sealants help to protect your tooth’s enamel from harmful acids and prevent decay, which can be an investment in itself. The whole process is quick, so it should be easy to schedule an appointment at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd.

Feel free to call our Chicago location and we can answer any questions you have about this service.

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

August 5th, 2021

A study conducted in Washington State in 2004 and another conducted in Madrid, Spain in 2012 both reported findings that support a direct relationship between parents’ dental fear and their child’s fear of the dentist.

The Washington study examined dental fear among 421 children ages 0.8 to 12.8 years old. They were patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in western Washington state. The Spanish study observed 183 children between the ages of seven and 12 as well as their parents.

The Washington study used responses from both parents and the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey consisted of 15 questions, which invited answers based on the child’s level of fear. The scale was one to five: one meant the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicated he or she was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those among their kids. The most important new discovery from the Madrid study was that the greater the fear a father had of going to the dentist, the higher the level of fear among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who feared dental procedures appeared to pass those fears along to every member of the family. Parents can still have some control over fear levels in their children. It is best not to express your own concerns in front of kids; instead, explain why going to the dentist is important.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team work hard to make your child’s visit at our Chicago office as comfortable as possible. We understand some patients may be more fearful than others, and will do our best to help ease your child’s anxiety.

Common Emergency Care Visits: Toothaches or abscesses

August 4th, 2021

Dental problems do not always wait for normal office hours. Broken fillings or damaged teeth are common reasons for emergency treatment. Toothaches and abscesses can also require prompt attention. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can provide you with the information and treatment you need to prevent the problem from becoming worse. Emergency dental care is only a phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Abscess

An abscess is a bacterial infection, and will normally cause pain and swelling around the affected tooth and gum area. Antibiotics are not always necessary, but you should seek treatment quickly. Left untreated, an infection can spread and cause serious complications.

Toothache

There are many reasons that you may develop a sudden toothache. The cause of the pain may be a particle of food lodged between your tooth and gum line. One of the first steps you can take is to rinse your mouth with warm water. You may also try gently flossing the area to dislodge the particle. Do not continue flossing if bleeding occurs.

Toothaches can occur from a carie — a cavity in the tooth — or from a fracture. Sensitivity to heat or cold may also cause tooth pain. You should make an appointment to ensure that a minor problem does not become serious. We may recommend acetaminophen or another pain reliever to reduce the pain before your visit.

Additional tips and treatments:

  • If you have fractured a tooth, rinse the area with warm water to keep the surfaces clean. Apply a cold compress to the outside of your facial area to reduce swelling.
  • A tooth that has been knocked out should be kept moist, in a clean container, until you can receive treatment.
  • Do not apply aspirin directly on a damaged tooth or gum area as it can cause tissue irritation.
  • If you suspect that your jaw has been broken, go to an emergency room immediately.
  • If you have bitten or damaged your lips or tongue, rinse your mouth well with warm water. If bleeding continues, call us or seek other medical attention immediately.

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd is ready to assist you when you have an emergency dental need. When you call, please provide us with as much information as possible so we can offer recommendations that will assist you until your appointment. Do not delay; emergency treatment is available and immediate treatment is the best course of action.

Is there a connection between oral health and school performance?

July 29th, 2021

As a parent, you want the best for your children, and that includes doing their best in school. You can support them by taking an interest in their activities, being enthusiastic about attendance, and helping them with homework. There may also be one more way you can help your children succeed at school. Surprisingly, research suggests that children with better oral health are likely to do better in school.

What the Research Says

One study in North Carolina looked at risk factors for poor school performance among school-aged children. As expected, the study found poor school performance linked to low socioeconomic status, low levels of parental education, and poor overall health. However, it also found a strong link between poor oral health and poor school performance, with children classified as having poor oral health 40 percent more likely struggle in school.

These findings are generalizable to the rest of the country. For example, attendance is an important factor in academic achievement, but dental conditions are responsible for a loss 51 million school hours among schoolchildren each year. Dental pain and infection are linked to poorer performance.

School-Based Programs to Promote Oral Health

In light of the apparent benefits of good oral health for school performance, some schools are taking steps to promote better oral care and health. In Maine, for instance, schools in need can apply for grants through School Oral Health Program (SOHP). The SOHP consists of four components:

  1. Oral health education for all children to support healthy behaviors
  2. A weekly fluoride mouth rinse to strengthen teeth
  3. Dental screenings to identify children who may need dental care
  4. Dental sealants, or plastic coatings, on back teeth to guard against decay

The State of Maine also supports an “Annual Sugar Out Day” to raise awareness of the effects of sugar on dental health and to help students choose low-sugar alternatives.

Oral Health Habits to Adopt

You can help your child improve oral health and do better in school by encouraging good oral hygiene. This includes brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and reminding your child to drink water after eating. Also, regular trips to our Chicago office can help prevent serious tooth problems.

Providing the Right Dental Care for your Children

July 28th, 2021

You already know that Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommends you come in for a checkup and cleaning at least every six months, but do you know what your child’s dental needs are? From the time children are babies and growing in their first teeth, their oral health care needs may be different from adults. It’s important to know what they need, and when, to help them grow strong, healthy teeth.

When to See Our Team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd

While dental care (at home) can begin as soon as your baby starts to show signs of that first tooth, most experts do not recommend you see a dentist until your child is at least one year old. The child will likely be too young at this point to have a full dental exam, but we can take a look at your baby’s teeth and give you tips for brushing and flossing properly.

By the time your child has all of his or her baby teeth—usually around 24 to 30 months of age—we can begin scheduling regular checkups and cleanings.

What to Expect on the First Visits

The first visit to our Chicago office for a full exam will mostly involve getting to know Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and staff members, and making your child feel comfortable. Let us know if you would like to sit in the exam room during the appointment, but keep in mind that it may be beneficial to leave your child alone with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes for a portion of the appointment so we can start building trust with your child.

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd will likely do some or all of the following during your child's visit:

  • Look for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
  • Examine your child’s bite, checking for misalignment that could lead to problems in the future
  • Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your child is old enough
  • Talk to you about proper oral health care for your children
  • Answer any questions you may have about caring for your child’s teeth, which may include topics like fluoride needs, nutrition and diet, teething, and the frequency of future checkups

In most cases, we will recommend that you bring your child in every six months for regular checkups, the same as your recommended frequency.

Understanding your child’s unique dental needs is important for providing the best possible care when it becomes necessary. We look forward to building a good relationship with your child so coming to the dentist is a fun, rewarding experience and not a frightening one.

What's on your child's reading list?

July 22nd, 2021

What better way for children to spend their time than cuddled up by the fireplace or out in the yard with a book in hand? Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team encourage you to inspire your child’s mind with a few great books. Sure it may be easy to put off reading when balancing a busy schedule, but reading is vital to kids’ brain development. Plus, reading is always fun!

This week, we thought we’d ask: What are you or your child reading? Do you have any suggestions for must-read books? Out of ideas for great reads? Ask us during your next visit, and Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team would be happy to provide a few suggestions. You may also ask a local librarian here in Chicago for some ideas.

Happy reading! Be sure to share your book picks or your all-time favorites with us below or on our Facebook page!

Thumb Sucking

July 21st, 2021

Learning to suck their thumbs is one of the first physical skills babies acquire. In fact, ultrasound images have revealed babies sucking their thumbs in the womb! Babies have a natural sucking reflex, and this activity is a normal way for your baby to soothe herself.

If your toddler still turns to her thumb for comfort, no need to worry. Most children give up this habit as they grow, and generally stop completely between the ages of two and four. But what of the child who doesn’t? Should you encourage your child to stop? And when?

When Thumb Sucking Becomes a Problem

After your child turns five, and certainly when her permanent teeth start to arrive, aggressive thumb sucking is something to watch for. This type of vigorous sucking, which puts pressure on the teeth and gums, can lead to a number of problems.

  • Open Bite

Our bites are considered normal when the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower where they touch in the front of the mouth. But with aggressive thumb sucking, teeth are pushed out of alignment. Sometimes this results in a condition called “open bite,” where the upper and lower teeth don’t make contact at all. An open bite almost always requires orthodontic treatment.

  • Jaw Problems

Your child’s palate and jaw are still growing. Aggressive thumb sucking can actually change the shape of the palate and jaw, and even affect facial structure. Again, orthodontic treatment can help, but prevention is always the better option!

  • Speech Difficulties

Prolonged thumb sucking has been suggested as a risk factor for speech disorders such as lisping, the inability to pronounce certain letters, or tongue thrusting.

The consequences from aggressive thumb sucking can be prevented with early intervention. What to do if you are worried?

Talk to Us

First, let us reassure you that most children stop thumb sucking on their own, and with no negative dental effects at all. But if your child is still aggressively sucking her thumb once her permanent teeth have started erupting, or if we see changes in her baby teeth, let’s talk about solutions during an appointment at our Chicago office. We can offer suggestions to help your child break the habit at home. There are also dental appliances available that can discourage thumb sucking if your child finds it especially hard to stop.

Work with your Child

  • Be Positive

Positive reinforcement is always best. Praise her when she remembers not to suck her thumb. Make a chart with stickers to reward every thumb-free day. Pick out a favorite book to read or activity you can share.

  • Identify Triggers

Children associate thumb sucking with comfort and security.  If your child turns to her thumb when she’s anxious, try to discover what is bothering her and how to reassure her. If she automatically sucks her thumb when she is bored, find an activity that will engage her. If she’s hungry, offer a healthy snack.

  • Talk about It!

Depending on her age, it might help your child to understand why stopping this habit is important. We are happy to explain, in a positive, age-appropriate way, just how breaking the thumb sucking habit will help her teeth and her smile.

Again, most children leave thumb sucking behind naturally and easily. But if what is a comfort for your child has become a concern for you, please give us a call. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will work with you and your child to prevent future orthodontic problems and begin her lifetime of beautiful smiles.

 

Sealants: What are they and how do they help?

July 15th, 2021

Molars are made up of canyons, caves, pits, and seemingly endless caverns that are a breeding ground for decay. The protective solution is a sealant. When done correctly, a sealant from Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes of Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd can be most effective in preventing cavities.

A sealant is made up of composite (a plastic-like) material that contains bonding agents to seal to the edge of the tooth. Sealants placed on the chewing surfaces of back teeth block food from being trapped. The process in which a sealant is placed is quite precise and painless.

First the tooth is cleaned with a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) spray. Then an acid etch is applied to “roughen up” the surface. No saliva is to touch the tooth. This will re-mineralize the area, then a repeat etching is needed. An alcohol-based liquid then dries out the area and it must remain completely dry. The sealant is placed and guided through all the caverns, pits, fissures, and grooves. It is then cured with a special light, which makes it a hard, plastic-like material.

Sealants can last for several years. It is wise to have them examined on a semi-annual basis. If there is a break in the sealant, a high risk for decay is common. If a sealant is damaged, repair is simple, painless, and quick to complete.

Who can benefit from sealants? Anyone! Children often receive sealants as routine preventive care. Adults with deep canyons with stained grooves on their teeth can also benefit from a sealant. The process is quick, painless, and does not require any anesthesia. It is an effective way to lower dental restorative costs.

An investment in dental sealants can reap great benefits as properly cared for teeth will remain cavity free. Our Chicago location is available to answer your questions so give us a call today!

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

July 14th, 2021

Two studies – one conducted in Washington State, and whose findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry in 2004, and another conducted in Madrid, Spain, and whose findings were reported in 2012 in Science Daily, reinforce earlier findings that show a direct relationship between parental dental fear and that of their children.

The Washington study looked at dental fear among 421 children whose ages ranged from 0.8 to 12.8 years. The children were all patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in Western Washington State. The Spanish study looked at 183 children between the ages of seven and 12, and their parents in Madrid.

The Washington study used the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey responses came from either parents, or other parties charged with taking care of the children. The people responsible for each child filled out the survey, which consisted of 15 questions to which answers were given based on the child’s level of fear. The scale used was one to five, with one meaning the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicating the child was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found that like past studies, there is a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those of their kids. The most important new discovery from the study conducted in Madrid, was that the more anxiety and fear a father has of going to the dentist, the higher the fear levels among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who suffer from fear of going to the dentist and fear of dental procedures in general pass those fears on to every member of the family. While parents may not feel like they have control over those fears, the best way to help your child understand the importance of going to the dentist is by not expressing your fears in front of them – or around the rest of the family.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team understand that some patients are more fearful than others when it comes to visitingour Chicago office. We work hard to make our practice as comfortable for our patients, both children and adults.

They're just baby teeth, right?

July 8th, 2021

“But they are only baby teeth; won’t they just fall out?” Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd has had these questions asked many times from parents over the years. Primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” will indeed come out eventually, to be replaced by permanent teeth as the child grows and develops. These teeth serve a great purpose as the child continues to develop and require specific care.

Because baby teeth are temporary, some parents are unenthusiastic about fixing cavities in them. This may be due to the cost or having to force a child undergo the process—especially having to receive an injection. But if a cavity is diagnosed early enough, an injection can often be avoided. More important, failure to fill cavities in primary teeth when they are small and manageable can have lasting consequences in cost and health concerns. Serious illnesses in children have been diagnosed which began as a cavity.

Primary teeth act as a guide for permanent teeth. When decay reaches the nerve and blood supply of a tooth, this can cause an abscess. Severe pain and swelling may result. At that point, the only treatment options are either to remove the tooth or to perform a procedure similar to a baby root canal. When a primary tooth is lost prematurely—to decay or a painful abscess—the adjacent teeth will often shift and block the eruption of a permanent tooth. Braces or spacers become necessary to avoid crowding or impaction of the permanent tooth.

There is nothing more heartbreaking for Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes than to have to treat a child experiencing pain and fear. To all the parents of my little patients our team strongly recommend filling a small cavity and not waiting until it becomes a larger problem such as those described above.

Prevention is the key to a healthy mouth for our smallest patients. Parents should allow the child to brush his or her teeth using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and then take a turn to ensure the plaque gets removed from all surfaces: cheek side, tongue side, and chewing edges of all the teeth.

Summer Dental Health? Get into the Swim of It!

July 7th, 2021

On a sizzling hot day, there’s not much that makes us happier than heading to the water for a quick swim, some gentle laps, or even a rousing game of water polo. And this being a sizzling hot dental blog, we are happy to offer some tips on how to make your summer swim good for your dental health as well as your mental health!

  • Mouthguards

You might use your mouthguard all the time—for biking, or basketball, or skiing. But in the pool? Absolutely! Anyone who has played water polo knows what a physical workout it is. Elbows! Hard tosses! Collisions! And it’s not just pool sports. Water-skiing on the lake, surfing in the ocean—anywhere humans and solid objects are involved, tooth and jaw injuries are possible. Don’t spend valuable summer hours tending to a cracked or broken tooth as a result of sports accidents.

And, unlikely though it seems, even hanging by the pool can be hazardous to your smile. Hard concrete edges wait to greet surfacing divers. Slippery cement and tiles surrounding the pool are the downfall of many a swimmer running to jump back into the water. Be aware of possible dental dangers, and use a mouthguard as a great proactive way to avoid them.

  • Swimming Pools & Chlorine

Ah, the smell of chlorine! We all want to know that swimming pools are as clean as they can be, and one method of keeping them that way is with the addition of antimicrobials to the water. But too much exposure to chemicals can cause enamel erosion, or even a condition called “swimmer’s calculus.” Swimmer’s calculus is recognized by a hard, brownish, tartar deposit that appears on the front teeth of swimmers who spent a lot of hours in the pool. It’s a cosmetic problem, but one that’s difficult to get rid of without a professional cleaning. If you’re a competitive swimmer, or simply someone who spends many hours a week in treated water, give us a call if you notice hard-to-remove discoloration or tooth sensitivity.

  • Retainers

Different people have different opinions on whether or not your retainer should be exposed to the chlorine in pool water. (Or the salt in saltwater or the bacteria in lake water.) Ask us for ours! But you’re best off leaving it in your bag or locker, anyway, because retainers can be easily lost in the water. They might be able to survive a swimming pool, but a lake or ocean rescue is very unlikely. Just remember to put your retainer in a case, in a safe spot, and replace it when you’re out of the water for the day.

Enjoy your time on the water, and don’t forget to schedule an exam with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and a professional cleaning if you haven’t been in the office for a while. If you do have a dental problem or an accident, give our Chicago office a call immediately. We want to make sure you dive in to summer fun with a healthy, beautiful smile!

Happy Fourth of July!

July 1st, 2021

Happy Independence Day from Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and team! The Fourth of July celebrations in America may have changed a lot over the years, but there is no doubt that we Americans love to celebrate the anniversary of our country's independence! Today we're devoting the Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd blog to some fun facts about the Fourth!

  • My, how we have grown! This year the United States Census Bureau estimates that our country has 313.9 million residents celebrating the Fourth of July this year, but back in 1776 there were just 2.5 million members of the country.
  • Our country loves to show how proud that we are of our independence. Did you know that there are 31 United States places with the word “Liberty” in their names? The state of Iowa actually has four towns with the word Liberty in the name: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty, and West Liberty.
  • The United States loves Fourth of July food! It is expected that around 150 million hot dogs are eaten on the Fourth each year. One of the Fourth's most popular sides, potato salad, goes just perfectly with the hotdogs and hamburgers that are standard Fourth of July fare. Some people choose potato chips instead, but we wouldn't have such a plethora of potatoes if not for the prodigious production of the states of Idaho and Washington -- they provide about half of all the potatoes in the United States today!
  • Americans love celebrating the Fourth outdoors: About 74 million Americans fire up their BBQ grill every Fourth of July.
  • The Chinese contribution: Did you know that Americans have spent more than $211 million on fireworks that were imported from China?

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate the Fourth, stay safe, take precautions, and don't forget to brush after your fabulous Fourth feast!

Fun Facts for the Fourth

July 1st, 2021

The Fourth of July is a great time to get together with friends and family members for BBQ, games, fireworks, and other celebrations in honor of our country’s independence. While your fellow revelers eat hot dogs and wave flags, you can impress them by sharing these fascinating facts and historical tidbits about some of our country’s traditions and symbols from the team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd.

The Statue of Liberty

With a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of our country. However, as recognizable as certain parts of the statue are, not many people know that broken shackles, which represent oppression and tyranny, are lying at Lady Liberty’s feet. According to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the copper-plated lady weighs in at a whopping 450,000 tons and has been holding her torch up for more than 125 years, which must make for some impressive arm muscles.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Since 1916, people have been flocking to Coney Island on the Fourth of July to witness what some people call the “superbowl of competitive eating.” Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest challenges competitors to devour as many hot dogs as they can in just ten minutes, with the current record holder swallowing a whopping 68 hot dogs! If you’d like to witness this bizarre and frenzied eating competition but you won’t be anywhere near Coney Island on the fourth, don’t worry. ESPN has been broadcasting this popular event for several years, so you can watch from the comfort of your couch while you eat a reasonably portioned meal.

The History Behind Fireworks

Viewing the nighttime fireworks display is exciting way to finish off the fourth. Many people know that these brilliant displays probably originated with the Chinese. However, many historians also believe that fireworks were stumbled upon when the Chinese roasted bamboo sticks over fires and watched them explode. After many years of roasting the sticks, a group of alchemists created an early form of gunpowder, which they stuffed into the bamboo sticks to create an even more powerful explosion, paving the way for the today’s modern fireworks.

Whether you’re planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty, watching fireworks in Chicago, or even participating in a hot dog eating contest, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team hope you have a safe and fun-filled holiday. Happy Fourth of July!

Halitosis in Children: Causes and treatment

June 24th, 2021

Halitosis is the scientific name for bad breath. It is one of the most common oral concerns, and it affects a large percentage of the population, including children. Having bad breath can be embarrassing and a nuisance. When considering what to do about halitosis, the team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd highlights that you need to focus on the cause, rather than just masking the problem.

Children commonly have bad breath because of an upper respiratory infection. This includes a common cold, postnasal drip, or allergies. When this is the case, treatment may be complicated if one or more of these issues is chronic.

Another cause of halitosis in children is a condition with their teeth or gums. Just as in adults, gum disease has a distinctive malodor. The quality of brushing and flossing in children directly influences the presence of gum disease. If there is a large untreated cavity, there will be a strong smell causing bad breath. Both of these issues need professional attention, including a visit to the dentist.

Tonsillitis can also cause halitosis in children. It happens because of a constricted airway, resulting in mouth breathing. Mouth breathing is a concern because of how much it dries the tissue in the mouth. This makes any bacterial infection in the mouth worse and causes an increased potency within the bacteria in the mouth.

Treatment of halitosis is as varied as the causes listed above. Beware of ingredients in products that mask bad breath. Sucking on a mint on a regular basis will cause more harm than good because of potential decay. Chew sugarless gum and mints.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call us at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd or ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes during your next appointment!

What’s an intraoral camera?

June 23rd, 2021

One of the greatest features our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd offers is the ability to see first-hand how we can help our patients. While X-rays help us detect any problems in your mouth and give us valuable information on what is bothering you, they often don’t give Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes a complete view of everything that is going on inside your mouth. With the use of an intraoral camera, we can see every aspect of your teeth and mouth with incredible detail, uncovering cracked or fractured teeth, excessive wear, carious lesions, cavities, or other issues that may be hidden. When we can discover oral problems early on, your treatment is much less invasive and often saves you money down the road.

An intraoral camera allows Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes to view clear, precise images of your mouth, teeth, and gums and allows us to make an accurate diagnosis.  With clear, defined, enlarged images, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team see details that standard mirror examinations may miss. It’s much easier to understand what is happening in your mouth if you can see the problem on a computer monitor, and it means faster diagnosis and less chair-time for our patients!

Intraoral cameras are small, about the size of a dental mirror, and emit a light onto the tooth. The tooth will emit a color that lets Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes determine if the tooth is healthy or diseased. Intraoral cameras also allow us to save your images on our office computer to provide a permanent record of treatments. These treatments can be printed for you, other specialists, and your lab or insurance companies.

For any questions about the intraoral camera, we encourage you to ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes or our team during your or your child’s next visit or by giving us a call at our convenient Chicago office.

Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth

June 17th, 2021

In the eyes of most parents, nothing is cuter than their baby’s smile. Did you know your little one’s smile (that is, his or her oral health) actually plays a huge role in determining the child’s overall well-being? In order to keep your youngster healthy and smiling, you need to know when and how to take care of those tiny teeth.

Baby teeth aren’t just temporaries that will fall out eventually. They help your baby chew and talk, and they reserve space in the jaw for permanent teeth later on. Since they’re so important, the right time to start dental care is only a few days after your infant is born.

Take a soft, wet washcloth or piece of gauze and gently wipe your baby’s gums. The earlier you begin, the more accustomed your child will become to a daily dental hygiene routine.

Babies that are put to bed with a bottle may be at greater risk for developing cavities. Milk, juice, and any other drinks that contain sugar instigate tooth decay while the child sleeps.

If your baby must go to bed with something, a bottle of water is the healthiest option. Remember to wipe your little one’s gums after each feeding, whether it’s formula from a bottle or breast milk.

As soon as your infant’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start brushing! Twice a day, take a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) and brush your son or daughter’s teeth gently in circular motions. As soon as your toddler has multiple teeth that touch one another, floss up and down the sides of the teeth to remove any plaque between them or below the gumline.

Babies’ teeth are prone to cavities and gingivitis, so you’ll want to be on the lookout for telltale signs. Check regularly for red, swollen gums, because this may be an indication of developing gum disease. Discoloration, white spots, or small pits in the teeth can signal a forming cavity.

As long as you follow these simple guidelines and schedule regular dental checkups with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at our Chicago office, you can help to ensure your baby has a healthy mouth. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your happy baby’s healthy smile.

Fluorosis: What is it?

June 16th, 2021

Many people think dental fluorosis is a disease, but it’s not; it’s a condition that affects the appearance of your tooth’s enamel, not the function or health of the teeth. These changes may vary from tiny, white, barely noticeable spots to very noticeable staining, discoloration, and brown markings. The spots and stains left by fluorosis are permanent and may darken over time.

Dental fluorosis occurs in children who are excessively exposed to fluoride between 20 and 30 months of age. Only children ages eight years and younger can develop dental fluorosis. Why? That is the period when permanent teeth are still developing under the gums. For kids, fluorosis can cause significant embarrassment and anxiety about the appearance of their teeth. No matter how much they might brush and floss, the fluorosis stains do not go away.

Many well-known sources of fluoride may contribute to overexposure, including:

  • Fluoridated mouth rinse, which young children may swallow
  • Bottled water which is not tested for fluoride content
  • Inappropriate use of fluoride supplements
  • Exposure to water that is naturally or unnaturally fluoridated to levels well above the recommended levels

One way to reduce the risk for enamel fluorosis is to teach your children not to swallow topical fluoride products, such as toothpaste that contains fluoride. In fact, kids should use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing, and children under the age of two shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste at all.

Dental fluorosis can be treated with tooth bleaching, microabrasion, and conservative composite restorations or porcelain veneers. Please give us a call at our office to learn more or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

When Is a “Cavity” Not a Cavity?

June 10th, 2021

Is this a trick question? After all, you and your family probably already know quite a lot about cavities:

  • It all begins when bacteria-filled plaque sticks to teeth and starts to attack enamel. How?
  • Because the bacteria in plaque use the sugars and other foods we eat to produce acids.
  • These acids gradually weaken teeth by dissolving minerals that help make up our enamel (a process called demineralization).
  • Over time, a hole, or cavity, develops in the tooth surface.
  • Left untreated, bacterial decay can spread to the inside of the tooth, creating a more serious cavity.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes might discover an unexpected cavity at a regularly scheduled dental exam at our Chicago office, but there are also some symptoms that should have you calling for an appointment. A cavity can cause sensitivity when eating something hot or cold, or it can be painful, or you might even notice visible discoloration or damage to the tooth surface.

So, if your child has any of these symptoms, it’s a cavity, right? It might be—but it might not. Sometimes, because the symptoms are similar, what we suspect is a cavity is really enamel erosion.

The bacteria-created acids weaken enamel. But it’s not just bacteria that subject our teeth to acids. Acidic foods are one of the leading causes of tooth erosion.

And while we expect damage from a lifetime of acidic foods and beverages to catch up with us as we age, the fact is that erosion is becoming a problem even for young children. How is this possible? Let’s look at some food chemistry.

Our normal saliva pH level is around a 7, which is neutral. Any number lower is acidic; any number higher is alkaline. Acidic foods have a low pH (the pH of lemon juice, for example, measures between 2 and 3), and can reduce our normal, neutral pH level. When saliva pH levels drop to 5.5 or lower, tooth enamel starts to demineralize, just as it does when exposed to the acids from oral bacteria.

Regularly snacking on citrus and other acidic fruits, fruit juices, flavored drinks, sour candies, and other acidic foods can cause enamel erosion. Especially erosive are sports drinks, energy drinks, and colas, because they contain some combination of citric acid, phosphoric acid and/or carbonation.

So, when might you suspect enamel erosion? Your child might be sensitive to hot or cold foods, or feel pain, or even have noticeable enamel loss or pitting. Even though these symptoms may not have been caused by plaque and bacteria, acidic erosion from our diets leaves weakened enamel just as vulnerable to cavities and decay.

How to avoid erosion?

  • Serve acidic foods sparingly, or as part of a meal. This helps our saliva pH stay in the neutral zone.
  • Balance acidic foods with low-acid choices to neutralize acids and restore a normal pH balance. For example, mix those acidic berries with a banana.
  • Use a straw! These are not only fun, but this simple solution keeps erosive drinks from bathing young teeth in acids.
  • Encourage your child to drink water instead of an acidic beverage, or drink it afterward to rinse acids away. The pH of pure water? A perfect, neutral 7. And by using tap water instead of bottled water, you’ll be providing fluoride, which helps strengthen enamel.
  • What about brushing right after eating or drinking something acidic? Ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes if your child should rush for the brush. We may recommend waiting 30 minutes or so after an acidic treat to give the teeth time to remineralize. Otherwise, brushing might cause more wear and tear on enamel.
  • Finally, while foods are often the source of acid erosion, medical conditions can cause erosion as well. Talk to us about ways to minimize erosion while addressing these medical needs.

Be proactive. Ask your Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about healthy drinks and snacks for healthy teeth. Make sure to keep on top of brushing and flossing, and stick with fluoride toothpastes. And visit our Chicago office regularly for exams and cleanings.

There’s really no trick to it—preventing enamel erosion helps keep your child’s teeth structurally strong and cavity-free for a lifetime of beautiful and healthy adult smiles.

Let’s Talk About Fluoride

June 9th, 2021

So much of parenting is a balancing act. Making sure your child has enough play time and enough nap time. Crafting meals that are both healthy and appealing. Making sure every dental product you use is both effective and safe.

While Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team can’t recommend the perfect bedtime story, or tell you why your child just won’t go for that delicious steamed broccoli, we are more than happy to discuss the very best ways to promote healthy, strong teeth. Should fluoride toothpaste be part of your child’s dental routine? For many good reasons, the answer is yes.

Why Fluoride is Important

Our enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, with the highest concentration of minerals, but it is not indestructible. The bacteria that live in our mouths create acids which attack our enamel. Weakened enamel leads to cavities. Fluoride is a mineral that makes the enamel surface more resistant to these acids, and can actually help our enamel repair itself in a process called “remineralization.” Fluoride helps prevent cavities and makes teeth stronger, and those are benefits that will last your child a lifetime.

Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Fluorosis is a condition that can sometimes develop when a child has been exposed to too much fluoride while the adult teeth are developing below the gum line. (Around the age of eight, children’s teeth have finished forming and are not at risk.) Fluorosis is not a disease, and doesn’t harm teeth, but can lead to faint streaks in the enamel. While this streaking is usually white and subtle, it can sometimes be darker and more noticeable. Teeth discolored by fluorosis can be treated cosmetically, but prevention is always the best option.

Finding the Perfect Balance

Talk to us about using fluoride toothpaste when your baby’s first teeth start arriving. If a very young child is at risk for tooth decay, we might recommend early use of fluoride toothpaste. And for these small children, younger than the age of three, a small smear of paste (about the size of a grain of rice) is sufficient if needed. Swallowing fluoride products increases the risk of fluorosis, so make sure to use a very small amount of paste.

Because young children can’t understand the concept of rinsing and spitting, you always want to make sure the amount of toothpaste you use is age-appropriate even as they get older.  From ages three to six, a pea-sized dab of toothpaste is enough. Children should not use fluoride rinses or supplements unless recommended, and should be monitored to make sure they spit out fluoride toothpaste or rinses after brushing.

Most drinking water already has natural levels of fluoride, which normally aren’t a problem. If you are concerned about high fluoride levels in your local water, talk to us. If your water has higher levels of fluoride than normal, you can minimize consumption when your baby is young by breastfeeding, using non-fluoridated water for mixing with formula powder or concentrate, or buying prepared formula. If your child is a toddler, don’t add fluoride rinses or supplements unless they are recommended by a dental or medical professional.

Talk to us during your visit to our Chicago office about protecting your child’s teeth. We are happy to help you find just the right amount of fluoride to keep young smiles stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. Healthy teeth in a beautiful smile—that’s a perfect balance!

Tips to Help You Beat the Heat This Summer

June 3rd, 2021

The dog days of summer are upon us, and with the temperatures soaring, our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants you to be extra careful about sun safety when you’re out and about. Check out this incredibly helpful article on the Ten Summer Safety Tips for Kids, courtesy of Discovery.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team also encourage you to always have a bottle of water handy when heading out into the sun.

We hope you’re having a great summer! Let us know what you're up to below or on our Facebook page!

Smile! June marks National Smile Month!

June 2nd, 2021

Can you believe it’s already June? Today, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd thought we’d let you know that June is National Smile Month, so it’s a good time to remind all our young patients to practice proper oral hygiene between their visits to our office!

Below are a few simple steps your child can take to improve his or her oral health so that your family can celebrate National Smile Month for many, many years to come:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between the teeth
  • Limit the intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit us every six months for regular checkups

If you have questions about any of these tips, we encourage you to give us a call, ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes or our team during your next visit, or ask us on Facebook!

Memorial Day and Getting Ready for Summer

May 27th, 2021

Memorial Day didn't become an official holiday until 1971, but Americans started gathering annually in the spring to remember those who lost their lives in war during the 1860s, right after the Civil War. Celebrated on the last Monday in May, people still decorate the grave sites of war veterans and hold memorial services, but Memorial Day has also evolved into a day that signifies the beginning of summer.

During the summer months, many people take road trips to visit family members. Some head off to the airport to enjoy a long-awaited vacation far away, while others look forward to spending time with friends and family at home. However you spend Memorial Day and the subsequent summer months, there are a few things you can take care of to ensure your summertime is enjoyable.

Checklist for an Enjoyable Summer

  • Have the AC Checked. During the hottest days of summer, many families find themselves sweating it out due to a broken air conditioning system. Be proactive so you can avoid waiting for hours or days because the HVAC repair person is booked solid. Have your air conditioning system checked before or around Memorial Day each year.
  • Ensure Security While You're Away. When you leave for vacation, the last thing you should have to worry about is the security of your home. Install a home security system, if possible, and put a timer on your lights so they go on and off at normal hours. You can also alert your local police department that you'll be gone, and ask them to drive by your house once in a while to make sure everything is okay.
  • Visit Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes Before Vacation. Many people put off exams until after summer vacation. Avoid the crowds and make sure your physical and oral health are in top shape prior to vacation time so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants you to look forward to Memorial Day and the days of summer by preparing to spend the time safely and comfortably. As you plan ahead, take care of your health and secure your home, you can place your focus on creating memories with family members and friends while enjoying your favorite Memorial Day traditions.

Memorial Day: Parades, remembrance, and the unofficial start of summer!

May 26th, 2021

“The purpose of all war is peace.” - Saint Augustine

Fire truck sirens, baton twirlers, marching bands covering patriotic tunes, colorful floats, costumes, and millions of red, white, and blue American flags being waved in the air on a beautiful day in late May, that is what Memorial Day is all about. It is a federal holiday celebrated with town parades, remembrance, and a sense of unity and community togetherness.

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants to take this time to wish you and your family a happy Memorial Day, as well as pause for a moment to reflect on what this holiday means and how it has changed over time. No, this is not a history lesson, but just a couple of thoughts and observances for you to take with you on your way to the next barbecue.

On the last Monday in May, America observes Memorial Day as a time to remember and celebrate the men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country in the Armed Forces. The holiday originated after the Civil War; at that time it was known as Decoration Day. While holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter remain the same from year to year, Memorial Day has changed over time, and in the 21st century we observe a far different holiday than what Americans did after the Civil War, or even the World Wars.

While many people place flags at cemeteries and visit national memorials in order to honor those who have passed away serving the country, Memorial Day is also a time for family barbecues, pool parties, trips to the beach, blockbuster movies, long weekend getaways, and fireworks. In America, Memorial Day has come to represent the unofficial start of the summer – a long, sunny, warm weekend devoted to family togetherness, outdoor events, and community.

It is time to load up the potato salad and the apple pie and head over to the neighbor’s house for their annual barbecue. And yes, contrary to popular belief, we do eat sweets, especially homemade apple pie! Everything in moderation, of course.

So whether you’re in the Chicago area or beyond, Happy Memorial Day to you and yours from Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes!

Why Baby Teeth Matter

May 20th, 2021

Sleepless nights, crankiness, drooling—how can such tiny teeth cause such a big fuss? But all those uncomfortable days and nights are forgotten when your baby’s first teeth make their appearance. Why? Well, certainly because your child is happier, but also because you know baby teeth, or primary teeth, are important for your child’s growth in so many different ways.

  • Chewing and Eating

Your baby might enjoy solid foods at an early age, but real chewing doesn’t happen until all the baby molars appear between the ages of one to three years. This is the time to feed children size-appropriate and texture-appropriate foods so they acquire proper chewing and eating habits for healthy digestion. Chewing also helps develop your child’s jaw and facial muscles.

  • Developing Speech

Pronouncing many of the common sounds used in speech often requires tongue and teeth working together. If teeth are missing or there is a bite problem such as an open bite, it might be more difficult to pronounce words properly. This could be only a temporary delay, or it could require speech therapy when your child is older.

  • Setting the Stage for Permanent Teeth

Baby teeth not only help with speech and jaw development, but they serve as space holders for permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too early, a permanent tooth might “drift” into the empty space. The adult tooth will not have the room to fit where it should, and crowding or misalignment can occur. This might cause orthodontic problems in the future.

  • Learning Healthy Dental Habits

You are your baby’s first dental health care provider! Wiping the gums and erupting teeth with a soft damp cloth after meals, gently brushing baby teeth when your toddler is young, teaching how to brush as your child gets older, helping to establish daily routines for brushing—all these practices will prepare your child for lifelong healthy dental habits.

  • Making the Dentist a Regular Part of Your Child’s Life

Your child should visit our Chicago office soon after that first tooth comes in, and definitely by the age of 12 months. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can help with suggestions for your brushing and flossing routine, make sure your child’s teeth are healthy and clean, and ensure that teething progress is on track. In later visits, we will examine your child’s primary teeth and gums, and treat any problems, such as cavities, before they can become serious.

It turns out that baby teeth really are a big deal. Talk to us about suggestions for caring for your toddler’s teeth and about any questions you may have about teething progress, jaw and facial structure, speech development, or any other concerns at any time. We want to have a happy relationship with your child from the very start for a lifetime of healthy and confident smiles.

Fluoride Use in Adolescents

May 19th, 2021

Fluoride is a mineral that plays an essential role in oral health. In fact, the significant reduction in American tooth decay in recent decades can be attributed to a greater availability of fluoride in public water supplies, toothpaste, and other resources. When it comes in contact with the teeth, fluoride helps protect the enamel from acid and plaque bacteria. In some cases, it can even reverse tooth decay in its earliest stages.

Despite the benefits of fluoride, tooth decay is still common, especially among teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control reports that cavities can be found in more than half of young teens and two-thirds of older teens over age 16. Many of those teens are deficient in fluoride, either due to a lack of public water fluoridation or the use of bottled water. So how can parents ensure their teens are getting the fluoride they need to facilitate strong, healthy teeth?

Monitor Fluoride Exposure

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommend you start by measuring your teen’s fluoride exposure. Make sure you purchase fluoridated toothpaste for your household, and find out if your tap water is fluoridated. If your teen primarily consumes bottled water, examine the bottle to determine whether fluoride has been added. The majority of bottled waters are not supplemented with fluoride, but those that are will be clearly labeled.

Fluoride Supplementation

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes may recommend topical fluoride treatments at routine dental exams. These treatments are painless for your teen and may help establish stronger enamel that is more resistant to plaque and tooth decay. If you have a public water supply that is non-fluoridated, we may recommend fluoride supplementation between visits. These can be administered as drops, tablets, or vitamins.

Keep in mind that fluoride is most important for children and teens under the age of 16. Be proactive about your teen’s oral health by speaking with us about your family’s fluoride needs at your next dental visit.

For more information about fluoride, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

The Thumb-Sucking Habit

May 13th, 2021

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we are often asked “should I be concerned with my child’s thumb sucking?” So, our team thought we’d share what our thoughts are on your child sucking his or her thumb.

Infants Who Suck Their Thumbs

As infants begin experimenting with the basic functions of their mouths, from sucking on a bottle to beginning to speak, it is natural for them to suck their thumbs. Parents with young babies who regularly suck their thumbs probably don’t need to feel overly concerned, so long as fingers are kept clean and the habit is kept in check. For most children, the exploratory stage of thumb sucking ends after just a few short years. Problems with thumb sucking occur when infants grow into young children but the habit has not been resolved.

Dangers of Thumb Sucking

One of the main differences between an infant and a child sucking his thumb is the formation of the mouth and teeth. An infant’s mouth is barely beginning to grow and develop, so sucking a thumb might actually help to stimulate the process. For a child with a mouth full of teeth, however, a thumb-sucking habit might cause some serious problems. As a parent, it can be very important to watch your child carefully to make sure the sucking habit is regulated.

As a child grows and develops, baby teeth begin to fall out. A child sucking his or her thumb during the baby teeth stage may not run any great risks. Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd often sees that once a child has developed his or her permanent teeth, the problems with thumb sucking can become more serious. KidsHealth.org states that children who suck their thumbs beyond the age of four or five might increase their risk of developing an overbite, infections, and other dental problems.

What You Can Do To Help

Parents who want to prevent possible problems for their child would be wise to begin preventive care early on. While you don’t need to be overly concerned about an infant sucking a thumb, it might be a good idea to help your toddler break the habit before permanent teeth begin to show.

  • Try to use positive rewards for good behavior instead of negativity or threatening behavior.
  • Talk openly with your child about the potential dangers of a thumb-sucking habit.
  • Help your child find other productive things to do with the hands as a means of distraction. Playing a game of blocks, for example, might be a great diversion.
  • Support and encourage your child while he or she is trying to break the habit.

As children develop, they have many things to learn and to think about. By understanding a few simple facts about thumb sucking, you can help your child develop in a healthy and positive way. If you have any other questions, feel to contact us at our Chicago office, or ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes during your next appointment!

Top Five Things to Keep Your Dentist Smiling

May 12th, 2021

Come say hello twice a year. The American Dental Association says two times is the charm. Multiple visits a year lets us keep an eye out for any developing issues. It’s important to remember that this goes for the whole family. Children over one year old should be seeing Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes!

Stay fresh. At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we have a virtually unlimited stock of toothbrushes and floss, which means you have no excuse to be using a sad, ineffective toothbrush. As soon as bristles begin to fray, pick up a new one or stop by our Chicago office and we’ll replace yours. On average, you should be opening a new one every two to three months.

For goodness sake, floss! Flossing is an efficient way to keep your whole mouth healthy. It not only protects your teeth by removing aggregated plaque, it keeps your gums happy, too.

And brush. Practicing regular healthy habits is essential to keeping your mouth—and us—happy! When it comes to brushing that means two minutes, two times a day. If your kids need some encouragement, try making a calendar or playing a song like this.

Tell a friend. One way you can help us is by spreading the love. Tell your friends about what a good thing we’ve got going here. The more the merrier. And the healthier.

Four Tips for Soothing a Toothache

March 25th, 2021

Whether it’s a dull and throbbing ache or a sharp pain, toothaches can come in many different forms. Chances are you or your child has had the discomforting experience once or twice in your life. It’s the type of experience that nobody wants to have, because a toothache can be as annoying as fingernails scratching a chalkboard.

What’s a good way to describe a toothache? Let’s see … your mouth feels as if it’s being besieged by one of those Loony Tunes-style jackhammers. As fate would have it, toothaches always seem to occur over the weekend or after-office hours, leaving you to suffer and forcing you to cancel your plans.

Not so fast!

There are numerous tried-and-true home remedies you can use to ease the pain until you can make an appointment with our office. Here’s a look at four ways to soothe a toothache.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of salt water. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will both soothe your toothache and disinfect your mouth. However, make sure the water is warm; cold water can further exacerbate a sensitive tooth. Follow up the saltwater rinse by swishing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Clove oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and vanilla extract are proven to be comforting elixirs. Dip a cotton swab in one of these mixtures and apply it to your tooth and gums. These substances, which you may even have in your kitchen cupboards, are known to have pain-relieving qualities. For the best results, repeat the application throughout the day.
  3. Eating yogurt is good for toothaches and mouth pain. Yogurt is filled with healthy bacteria that combat pain. Afterward, place a cold compress on your jaw.
  4. Try flossing. Your toothache might be throbbing and severe, but there’s always a chance the pain is caused by a piece of food awkwardly lodged in your teeth.

We hope that helps! Give us a call to learn more!

Famous Teeth throughout History

March 12th, 2021

We probably all remember sitting through history lessons during our schooling years. Revolutionary war heroes, English royals, and pop-culture icons filled the pages of our textbooks. Although you may recall a detail or two about their historical significance, how much do you know about their teeth?

Picture England in the mid 1500s. People wore frilly clothes as they hustled along the street, and talked about the latest import from the Indies: sugar. Wealthy Brits did not hesitate to indulge their sweet tooth, and it was no different for the monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

The queen was especially fond of sweets, but not so fond of the dentist. Her teeth rotted; they turned black and gave off a foul odor. Eventually, Elizabeth lost so many teeth that people found it difficult to understand her when she spoke.

Flash forward to the Revolutionary-era colonies in the 1770s and we encounter the famous dentures of George Washington. They were not made of wood, but rather a combination of ivory and human teeth, some of which were his own pulled teeth and some he purchased from slaves.

Washington did not practice proper dental hygiene throughout his life. He began to suffer dental problems as early as age 24, when he had his first tooth pulled. By the time he was inaugurated in as the first president in 1789, he had only one tooth remaining in his mouth, which was pulled in 1796.

Washington’s dentures were made too wide and never quite fit his mouth properly. He complained that they were painful to wear and caused his jaw to protrude visibly outward.

If you’ve heard of Doc Holliday, you know him as the gun-toting, mustached criminal that ran the Wild West in the late 1800s. You might be surprised to learn that John Henry “Doc” Holliday actually had a career as a dentist.

He graduated from dental school in 1872 and began to practice in Griffin, Georgia. Holliday was later diagnosed with tuberculosis and his violent coughing fits during exams drove patients away. Jobless, he packed his bags for Texas and spent the rest of his days running from town to town as a criminal.

The Beatles brought pop music and British culture to their fans, as well as … teeth? In the mid-1960s, John Lennon had a molar removed that he presented as a gift to his housekeeper, Dorothy. Dorothy’s daughter was a huge fan of the Beatles and he thought she might like to a keepsake. Her family held onto the tooth until 2011, when they auctioned it off to a Canadian dentist for $31,000.

These historical figures had very different experiences with their teeth, but it’s safe to say a bit of extra brushing and flossing could’ve saved them a lot of trouble. Whether you’re queen, president, or an average citizen, it’s up to you to practice good dental hygiene!

Ask a member of our team at our office if you have any questions about how to keep your teeth in top shape!

My toothbrush did what?

February 25th, 2021

If you were to put your toothbrush bristles under a high-powered microscope, what you would see might give you nightmares: millions of bacteria, busily crawling up and down your toothbrush bristles, consuming proteins that came from your mouth, and still clinging to the bristles even after you’ve rinsed them with water.

Rinsing your toothbrush after brushing removes some of those ferociously hungry bacteria, but not all. The American Dental Association says that bacterial infestations develop on toothbrushes within a month of daily use. The ADA also states that unless a toothbrush is sterilized before being packaged, it’s going to come with bacteria – free of charge!

Germs and Frayed Bristles: the Demise of a Toothbrush

Our staff recommends that you toss your old toothbrush in the trash and purchase a new one every three months. Children tend to bite on their toothbrushes, which makes the bristles degrade and fray faster. Chances are kids may need to have their toothbrushes changed more frequently.

Where do they hide?

Bacteria are tenacious little germs that head for those concealed areas between toothbrush bristles. They are highly adaptable and exist in every type of extreme environment. Some people actually go so far as to put their toothbrush in a microwave for a few seconds to kill germs, but this doesn't always work either. In fact, you may only end up with a toothbrush that’s as bendable as a Gumby doll – and still covered with germs.

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever, and Get Rid of Your Toothbrush

When you have a head cold, your mouth is teeming with bacteria gleefully roaming around, and gobbling mucus and dead skin cells. If you brush your teeth while suffering a sinus condition, the brush will act like a magnet for ravenous bacteria. Use your old toothbrush while you are sick, but as soon as you feel better, throw it away and get a new one. Otherwise you could possibly re-infect yourself with the same cold germs!

How to Properly Store Your Toothbrush

February 4th, 2021

Have you ever thought about how you're cleaning and storing your toothbrush when you're not using it? Did you know that the way you store your toothbrush could have an affect on your oral health? In this post, we'll look at some steps you can take to maximize toothbrush cleanliness and minimize bacteria.

Below are some tips for toothbrush use and storage:

  • Don't share your toothbrush – This may seem obvious, but sharing a toothbrush exposes both users to bacteria and microorganisms from the other user, which can increase chances of infection. You should also avoid storing your toothbrush in the same container as other people’s toothbrushes.
  • Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after each use – Rinsing your toothbrush well under running water will help remove food particles, toothpaste, and other debris from the bristles of your brush.
  • Store your toothbrush in an open-air container not a sealed one – Putting a wet toothbrush in a sealed container creates a favorable environment for microorganisms and bacteria.
  • Soak your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash after use – There is some evidence to suggest that soaking your toothbrush in an antibacterial solution may reduce the amount of bacteria present on the toothbrush.
  • Change your toothbrush every three months – The bristles of your toothbrush become less effective and frayed after repeated use so it's a good idea to replace it on a regular basis. It's also wise to replace it after you've been sick.

There are many simple things you can do to make your oral-care regimen as clean as possible. Use common sense when storing your toothbrush—don't put it in a dirty place like the edge of your sink or in the shower (please, not by the toilet!), and keep it upright in a cool dry place—and you're usually good to go. If your toothbrush is looking a little worse for wear, drop by our office and we'll be glad to provide you with a new one!

Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

January 14th, 2021

Our team hears this question a lot. While many people believe periodontal disease is an adult problem, studies have indicated that periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, as well as other serious infections such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are prevalent among kids and adolescents. First, let’s identify the differences between gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease in which only your child’s gums are affected. Characterized by swollen and red gums that bleed easily, gingivitis causes an inflammation of the gums, and is the first stage and mildest form of periodontal disease. The good news is that gingivitis is often reversible. Treatment for gingivitis includes having your child come in for a professional teeth cleaning. It also includes daily brushing, which will help eliminate plaque from the surfaces of your child’s teeth. Your child should also get in the habit of flossing daily to remove plaque and food particles wedged in the crevices between his or her teeth.

Periodontitis

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease that can not only damage your child’s gum tissue, but also destroy the underlying bone which supports the teeth. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. In some cases, the bacteria from the ensuing infection may also be distributed to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, periodontal ligament, and bone that surround and support your child’s teeth. Periodontal disease causes gums to become red, swollen, and tender, and can even cause the gums to recede (pull away) from the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

Having persistent at-home oral care regimen is a critical step in your child’s fight against periodontal disease. But sometimes brushing and flossing are simply not enough. Having your child’s teeth cleaned twice a year, or as recommended, is crucial.

Early diagnosis of gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease can give you and your child peace of mind. If you are concerned your child is suffering from gum disease, we recommend that you give us a call at our office. We look forward to working with you and giving your child a smile to last a lifetime!

My child has canker sores! How can I help?

December 17th, 2020

According to the American Association of Pediatric Density, roughly one in five children suffers from canker sores. Canker sores are small sores that appear inside the cheeks, on the lips, on the surface of the gums, and under the tongue.

Even though, canker sores are not contagious, they do tend to run in families. There are several reasons your child may be suffering from canker sores including:

  • Children who have Vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid deficiencies tend to get canker sores more often than children who have normal levels of these vitamins and minerals.
  • Children who suffer from food allergies are also at a higher risk for developing canker sores. It’s difficult to determine what your child may be allergic to. If you feel strongly that the canker sores are related to an allergy, then a visit to an allergist is highly recommended.
  • Biting their lip or cheek can also result in a canker sore.
  • Any injury to mouth, where the skin breaks can cause a canker sore.
  • Brushing their teeth too hard can also be a problem.
  • Your child may be sensitive to an ingredient in their toothpaste. Try switching toothpastes and see if it makes a difference.
  • Emotional disturbances and stress are also factors to consider.

If your child has frequent canker sores a visit to our office will be beneficial. Canker sores are painful and usually last about 14 days. We may recommend one or a few of the following treatment options:

  • Avoid food that is acidic, salty, and spicy.
  • A toothbrush with soft bristles may be helpful.
  • Avoid mouthwash and toothpaste that contain SLS.
  • Do not feed your child foods that they may be allergic to.

Canker Sore Remedies

  • Eating yogurt that contains Acidophilus will relieve the pain and help the canker sore heal faster.
  • Put one teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of lukewarm water. Have your child gargle and swish it around his or her mouth several times a day. Not only does this remedy relieve the pain, the canker sore could be gone in as little as 24 hours.
  • Place a wet tea bag on the sore and hold it there for a few minutes several times a day. This remedy will help with the pain and quickly heal the sore.
  • Camphor, Benzocaine, Lidocaine, and Orajel are over-the-counter medications that can help.

If you have questions about your child’s canker sore, contact us to schedule an appointment.

A History of Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2020

Thanksgiving is a great occasion; one we look forward to at our office--although this year probably looks quite a bit different for many. It’s a time to be with loved ones if possible (wearing a mask), give thanks, indulge in over-the-top dining, and best of all, welcome the start of the holiday season.

Unlike most holidays, though, Thanksgiving isn’t linked to any particular religion. And, though it may seem like an essential holiday, the United States and Canada are two of only a handful of countries that officially celebrate it.

North American Origins

In the US, Thanksgiving is celebrated every fourth Thursday in November. Canada observes it on the second Monday of October, however. Appropriately, this is much closer to the time when harvests were likely to be gathered.

In addition to being celebrated on different days, the origins of the holiday also differ. In Canada, an explorer named Martin Frobisher takes most of the credit. Frobisher took on a grueling journey when he traveled from England to Nunavut. He survived through difficult weather and tough terrain, so after his voyage, he decided to hold a ceremony to celebrate his good fortune.

As the years passed and more settlers populated the area, the ceremony became a yearly tradition. Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer, has also been linked to the first Thanksgiving celebration in Canada, after other settlers who arrived with him in New France celebrated the good harvest with a feast.

The US celebration of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the Plymouth, Massachusetts Colony, in 1621. The story goes that the colony at Plymouth didn’t have enough food to sustain everyone that winter until the Native Americans helped out by teaching them to fish and providing seeds to plant. Soon, the colonists were able to hold a feast worthy of the Thanksgiving name. By the 1660s, the tradition had spread and people all over New England were hosting feasts to honor the harvest.

Thanksgiving Today

Thanksgiving is celebrated in many ways these days. Everything from football games to casual dinners to lavish feasts occurs over the long weekend. What you’ll almost always find, though, is a group of people being thankful for the people around them. And probably some kind of green bean casserole!

However you choose to celebrate this year, we wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings!

Proper Brushing Techniques

October 29th, 2020

Brushing your teeth properly removes the food particles and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. However, you do not want to scrub your teeth or gums heavily. A heavy hand can lead to tooth and gum erosion, as our staff sees all too often.

You should also use a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid damaging the surface of your teeth. Make sure the head of the brush fits in your mouth, because if it is too large you will not be able to reach all tooth surfaces. Follow these steps to ensure you are brushing properly.

  1. Use a small amount of toothpaste on your brush. The recommendation is a pea-sized amount or thin strip on the bristles.
  2. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the surface of your teeth, angling towards your gums. Use a circular motion on all exterior tooth surfaces, and avoid back-and-forth “scrub” brushing.
  3. Once you have cleaned the outer surfaces, hold the brush vertically and clean the inner teeth surfaces — the side of your teeth that face your tongue. Do not forget the inner surfaces of your front teeth.
  4. Finally, finish by cleaning all the chewing surfaces of your teeth. You need to maintain a gentle touch, but make sure you get into the full depth of your molars. The entire process should take about two minutes.

We recommend changing your toothbrush every three to four months for best results. Do not forget to clean your tongue, which helps remove excess bacteria from your mouth. Special brushes are available just for cleaning your tongue, and they are easy to use.

Proper care of your teeth also requires flossing on a regular basis. Flossing can be performed before or after you brush. Following up with a quality mouthwash will provide you with even more protection. Do not be afraid to ask our team for tips on proper brushing and flossing at your next visit!

Should Children Use Whitening Products?

October 1st, 2020

As adults, we often wish our teeth could be as white as they were when we were small children. Baby teeth have thinner and whiter enamel than adult teeth, and those brilliant smiles are a result! But occasionally, you may be surprised to discover some staining or discoloration on those lovely first teeth. You might be tempted to apply a whitening product to your child’s teeth, but, please—read on!

Causes of Staining

  • Improper Brushing—Often, a loss of tooth whiteness means that plaque has built up on the tooth surface. Careful brushing is needed to remove bacteria and plaque, and if your child isn’t brushing at least twice a day for two minutes, discoloration can be the result.
  • Medications—When given in liquid form, or when added to formula or food, iron supplements can cause dark grey staining on the teeth. Medications taken by a mother while pregnant or breast feeding, such as tetracycline, can also lead to discoloration.
  • Injury—If a tooth suffers a serious injury, the tooth can darken because of changes inside the enamel.
  • Health conditions—Certain health problems can cause tooth discoloration, or sometimes children are born with weaker enamel that is more likely to stain.

If you have noticed any staining on your child’s primary teeth, call our office. Simple stains can often be removed with better brushing techniques, and we can clean other surface stains in the office. Staining caused by an injury or a health condition is something we can discuss in detail with you. We can even use some professional whitening methods if those are indicated.

Why not just buy a home whitening kit for your child? There are several important reasons to leave these products on the shelf while your child is young.

  • Whitening kits are designed for adults. They have been tested for adult teeth in adult trials. Check the box for age appropriate use. Most products are not recommended for pre-teen children.
  • Remember that thinner enamel we mentioned earlier? Add to that the delicate skin of young children, and it’s sensible to be cautious about using a bleaching agent that can cause mouth and tooth sensitivity even in adults.
  • There is no body of evidence available as to the short and long term effects of using these products on children.

If you are concerned about the brightness of your child’s smile, please talk to us. We can recommend better ways to brush at home, clean your child’s teeth in the office, or suggest professional methods of whitening if there are physical or psychological reasons that it would be valuable. But while your child is young, those off-the-shelf whitening products can wait a few more years.

Which type of mouthwash is best?

September 17th, 2020

Taking care of your oral health involves a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing to prevent tooth decay and bacterial infections. Though you may have asked us which toothbrush to use, few patients ask about mouthwash.

However, different mouthwashes you might choose will have varying effects on your oral health. So which type is best for you?

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes are designed to reduce the majority of bacteria on and near the gum line. Using an antiseptic mouthwash can help decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. If possible, look for a mouthwash with antibacterial or antimicrobial ingredients.

Fluoride

Fluoride is beneficial for oral health and can help prevent tooth decay. If you drink a lot of bottled water without fluoride, we may recommend that you purchase a rinse with fluoride in it.

Bad Breath

Although mouthwash is designed to prevent bacterial build-up within the mouth, many people use it to combat bad breath. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath, and some are specifically designed to do so.

However, if bad breath is a chronic problem that requires daily treatment with a mouth rinse, contact us to discuss you or your child's symptoms.

American Dental Association Approval

The ADA reviews mouth rinses for safety and effectiveness. A mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Approval will meet strict criteria, and will have scientific evidence or clinical studies that support the claims of the manufacturer. If possible, select a mouthwash that bears the ADA Seal of Approval to ensure you are using a quality rinse.

Considerations

If you are unsure as to which mouthwash is right for you, contact our office or ask during your next visit. Also, be sure to keep mouthwash out of the reach of children, as it contains alcohol and other substances that could be harmful to them. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and discontinue use if you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth.

Can my child really avoid tooth decay?

August 31st, 2020

Great question! Yes, in fact, tooth decay is preventable! Decay, which is caused by sugars left in your child’s mouth, can turn into an acid, which in turn can break down his or her teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits.

So, how can your child prevent tooth decay?

  • Start early. After the age of two, brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. And, if possible, clean between the teeth with dental floss at least once a day, preferably before they go to bed.
  • Don’t allow your little ones to eat after cleaning teeth at bedtime, as salivary flow decreases while they sleep and their teeth become vulnerable to cavities.
  • Do not allow your little ones to nibble food or sip drinks continuously, and keep in mind that a low-sugar diet also helps keep tooth decay at bay. Allow time between meals for saliva to neutralize acids and repair the teeth.
  • Drinking water frequently throughout the day can also reduce the possibility of new cavities forming.
  • Dental sealants can also protect your children’s teeth from cavities. Sealants, which are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars, act as a shield between the tooth and harmful bacteria.

Finally, make sure your child visits us approximately every six months for a checkup and routine cleaning! Please give us a call at our office to set up an appointment!

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

July 21st, 2020

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. We hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

Summer Treats for Healthy Teeth

June 26th, 2020

School’s out for the summer. While most children have been home for months now, it's officially summer vacation. And you want to keep their vacation happy, relaxing, and fun—without letting them spend those summer months cooling off with sugary treats. What are some of your options for healthy hot weather snacks?

  • Naturally Sweet Treats

Keep a supply of fresh fruit handy for summer snacking. Crispy fruits like apples and Bosc pears actually provide a little scrubbing action for the teeth with their vitamins, and softer fruits such as bananas, berries, and, of course, watermelon, provide natural sweetness along with vitamins and minerals. Yogurt has valuable calcium for strong teeth and the vitamin D our bodies need to use that calcium. Add some fresh fruit to Greek yogurt for added flavor and sweetness—and even more vitamins.

  • Savory Snacks

Cheese is a calcium-rich snack, and crunchy carrots and celery help scrub teeth while providing vitamins and minerals. Do a little mixing and matching by adding some cream cheese to that celery for extra flavor. Serve up hummus and pita chips or cheese with whole grain crackers. They’re great nutritious alternatives to chips and dip.

  • Blender Blast

Summer’s the perfect time to use your culinary creativity and expand your child’s palate with vitamin-rich smoothies. Toss your favorite fruits in the blender with a little juice, non-fat yogurt, milk, or honey, whirl away, and you have a delicious, healthy snack. You can add a few leafy greens for even more nutritional value. There are many easy recipes online for creating homemade smoothies that will please any picky palate.

  • Freezer Favorites

Ice cream is a favorite summer treat, but it can also provide quite a sugar punch. There are many homemade frozen yogurt recipes available online which combine frozen fruit, yogurt, and honey for your own summer celebration, without adding large amounts of sugar. Or choose to stock your freezer shelves with low-sugar fruit pops, store bought or homemade.

  • On Tap

A soda or a sports drink are often the go-to hydration choices in the summer. You might already be careful about handing these drinks out because they can have such a high sugar content. But they can also create a very acidic environment in the mouth, which is harmful to tooth enamel. Water is the safest, healthiest option for hydrating in hot weather, and can even provide some of the fluoride which helps keep enamel strong.

Whatever is on your child’s summer menu, keep up with all those great dental habits you’ve already established. A limited number of snacks—even healthy ones—is best, and be sure to brush after snacking, or rinse with water if brushing’s not an option. And don’t forget to maintain your child’s normal schedule of brushing and flossing, and regular visits with us at our office when possible.

Have a great summer, and send your kids back to school rested, relaxed, and with a healthy, happy smile. Then take a moment, relax, and sip that smoothie—after all, you deserve a break after all your hard work!

I brush my teeth regularly. Why do I need to floss?

May 28th, 2020

Brushing your teeth regularly is one of the most crucial parts of maintaining good oral health, and perhaps the most fundamental, however, there are also other elements involved. Flossing, for instance, is also vital; some experts would say, and our team would agree, that it holds just as much importance as brushing your teeth. To give you a better idea of why, here are some reasons that flossing is so vital to your oral health.

Getting in-between the Teeth

While brushing your teeth effectively cleans all of the areas of your teeth that are visible, or otherwise not touching, flossing is vital because it reaches all of the areas between your teeth that you cannot see, and subsequently cannot clean using a toothbrush. These areas are among the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of your mouth because they are most susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup.

Reducing Bad Breath

It is not uncommon for someone who brushes their teeth once or twice a day to still have bad breath. The reason being is that bad breath is often created by smelly bacteria that lives in between your teeth, as well as other areas of your mouth that are not accessible using a toothbrush. And that is why flossing is one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath. Still skeptical? Try flossing your teeth with unscented floss, then smell it after, that awful scent is the source of your bad breath. Coupled with frequent brushing of your teeth, you will find that flossing can really help that stinky breath.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is hard enough, add flossing on top and it can be difficult to establish a regular habit. However, doing so is totally worth it; just look at the aforementioned reasons why. Use these for motivation the next time you don’t feel like flossing, and let us know if it worked at your next visit to our office.

Smile! It’s Time for Arts & Crafts!

May 7th, 2020

If you have a child who loves arts and crafts, try some of these creative projects with a dental twist. One of these activities is sure to give your child something to smile about!

Toothbrush Art

Why throw away that used toothbrush when you can help your young child make art with it? Give it one more cleaning and a second life. The easy-to-grip handle and the wide bristles make a toothbrush easy for young hands to hold and paint with. If you are in an adventurous mood, use the brush to make splatter art. Your child can splatter an entire sheet of paper for an abstract effect, make a sky full of stars with a flick of the brush, or add splatter leaves to a tree scene. Cut out a stencil with a favorite shape (an animal, a flower, a toy), place it on a sheet of paper, splatter around it, remove the cutout, and—instant silhouette!

Paper Crafts

If your child is an origami enthusiast, there are some challenging dental-themed examples available online. These might be too advanced for beginners, but more experienced origami fans can make molars with roots and even molars lined with pink paper to symbolize the interior pulp. Younger paper artists might enjoy making construction paper models of an actual tooth, with white enamel, yellow dentin, and pink pulp layered in their proper order.

Sculpting Fun

For the scientifically minded young artist, clay can be used to make a 3D model of a tooth, with different colored clays representing the different layers of the tooth. Younger children learning about their teeth might enjoy fitting little white clay teeth into a pink clay crescent to show how baby (or adult) teeth fit into the gums. And for non-dental inspiration, old, clean toothbrushes can once again help out if your child likes sculpting art work with modeling clay. Add interesting texture by using the brush bristles on damp clay to create grooves, lines, or indentations.

Welcome the Tooth Fairy

If the Tooth Fairy is a regular visitor, make her welcome with a box decorated with paint or fabric to hold that special baby tooth. Or craft a pouch or a bag with fabrics scraps, and add a fabric tooth so that the Tooth Fairy will know she has come to the right spot. If you use felt and fabric glue, no sewing necessary! If your Tooth Fairy is an under-the-pillow traditionalist, decorate an envelope with a letter to the Tooth Fairy inside.

If some of these projects sound just right for your child, check out online craft sites for even more ideas. And, please be sure to have your children show and tell the next time they are able to visit our office. That will put a smile on our faces!

Dental Emergencies in Children

April 22nd, 2020

Dental emergencies are bound to come up when you have young children. Our team wants you to be prepared in case you run into a difficult situation. Problems can vary, from minor gum irritation to knocked-out teeth. Take a look at the different possibilities and how you can handle them.

Teething

Depending on the age of your child, there are common things to watch for when it comes to his or her teeth. Starting from a young age, your son or daughter may experience teething pain. This starts at about four months and can last up to three years.

Teething may cause your little one to become irritable and more prone to drooling due to tender gums. This is very common in young children who are teething, and can be alleviated by giving them a cold teething ring or by rubbing their gums with your finger.

Teething pain is as normal as your child’s first set of teeth falling out. On the other hand, if a baby tooth is knocked out in a forceful accident, make sure you bring him or her into our office to check that other damage hasn’t occurred in the mouth. On occasion, permanent teeth may grow in before baby teeth have fallen out. This may not cause any discomfort, but we should make sure the teeth are growing in properly. Catching teeth that are coming in incorrectly can prevent issues from arising in adulthood.

Gum Issues

If you’ve noticed your child’s gums bleeding often, this could result from a number of things. Bleeding gums may be an early sign of periodontal disease, which is caused by poor oral hygiene when it appears in children. Excessive gum bleeding can also occur when children brush their teeth too hard, or suffer an injury to their gum tissue.

If bleeding is continuous, rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water and apply light pressure to the area. If you become concerned about the amount of blood, contact our office and we will schedule an appointment for your youngster as soon as possible.

Depending on what type of dental issue your child is experiencing, you should make sure to treat it quickly and properly. If you have questions or concerns about what you can do to help your son or daughter develop better oral hygiene habits, ask for tips during your next appointment.

Don’t forget: As a parent, you can provide the best education to your children on the importance of proper oral hygiene by setting a good example. 

Keeping Your Teeth Strong and Healthy

March 26th, 2020

What is the strongest part of our bodies? Do you think it might be our bones, which help us move and protect our brains, hearts and other organs? Or could it be those tough fingernails and toenails that guard our fingertips and toes? Nope! You might be surprised to learn that the hardest thing in our bodies is the enamel which covers our teeth!

Our bones grow with us and can even knit back together in case we have a broken arm or leg. Our toenails grow more slowly, and our fingernails grow more quickly, so regularly trimming is required for both. But our enamel doesn’t grow or repair itself when it is damaged, so it needs to last us a lifetime. How can such a strong part of our bodies be damaged? And can we do anything to protect our teeth? Luckily, we can!

Prevent Chips and Cracks

You might be the fastest on your bike, or the highest scorer on your basketball team, or able to do the most amazing tricks on your skateboard. But even the strongest teeth can’t win against a paved road, or an elbow under the basket, or a cement skate park. If you’re physically active, talk to us about a mouthguard. This removable appliance fits closely around the teeth and can protect your teeth and jaw in case of accident. And protect your enamel even when you’re not being adventurous! Don’t bite down on ice cubes or hard candy, and save your pens and pencils for writing, not chewing.

Guard Your Teeth from Tooth Grinding

If you grind your teeth, you’re not alone! Many other young people do, too—mostly in their sleep. In fact, it might be a parent or sibling who lets you know you are grinding at night. But constant pressure on your enamel can lead to cracked enamel, sensitivity, and even worn down teeth. How can you protect them? Once again, a mouth guard can be a great solution. We can custom fit one to allow you to sleep comfortably while protecting your teeth.

Eat Healthy Foods & Brush Regularly

We all have bacteria in our mouths. Some are helpful, and some are not. The bacteria in plaque can change food products like sugar and starches into acids. These acids actually break down our enamel, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and decay. Making sugars and carbs a small part of your regular diet, and eating meals rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, will help stop acids from attacking your enamel. And careful brushing and flossing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep those minerals in enamel from breaking down and even help restore them.

Your enamel is the strongest part of your body, and you can help it stay that way. Protect your teeth from accidents, let our team know if you or a parent suspect you are grinding your teeth, eat healthy foods, and keep up your regular brushing. And remember, we are here to help keep your family’s teeth and mouth their healthiest for your strongest, most beautiful smile.

Let’s Talk About Fluoride

March 12th, 2020

So much of parenting is a balancing act. Making sure your child has enough play time and enough nap time. Crafting meals that are both healthy and appealing. Making sure every dental product you use is both effective and safe.

While our team can’t recommend the perfect bedtime story, or tell you why your child just won’t go for that delicious steamed broccoli, we are more than happy to discuss the very best ways to promote healthy, strong teeth. Should fluoride toothpaste be part of your child’s dental routine? For many good reasons, the answer is yes.

Why Fluoride is Important

Our enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, with the highest concentration of minerals, but it is not indestructible. The bacteria that live in our mouths create acids which attack our enamel. Weakened enamel leads to cavities. Fluoride is a mineral that makes the enamel surface more resistant to these acids, and can actually help our enamel repair itself in a process called “remineralization.” Fluoride helps prevent cavities and makes teeth stronger, and those are benefits that will last your child a lifetime.

Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Fluorosis is a condition that can sometimes develop when a child has been exposed to too much fluoride while the adult teeth are developing below the gum line. (Around the age of eight, children’s teeth have finished forming and are not at risk.) Fluorosis is not a disease, and doesn’t harm teeth, but can lead to faint streaks in the enamel. While this streaking is usually white and subtle, it can sometimes be darker and more noticeable. Teeth discolored by fluorosis can be treated cosmetically, but prevention is always the best option.

Finding the Perfect Balance

Talk to us about using fluoride toothpaste when your baby’s first teeth start arriving. If a very young child is at risk for tooth decay, we might recommend early use of fluoride toothpaste. And for these small children, younger than the age of three, a small smear of paste (about the size of a grain of rice) is sufficient if needed. Swallowing fluoride products increases the risk of fluorosis, so make sure to use a very small amount of paste.

Because young children can’t understand the concept of rinsing and spitting, you always want to make sure the amount of toothpaste you use is age-appropriate even as they get older.  From ages three to six, a pea-sized dab of toothpaste is enough. Children should not use fluoride rinses or supplements unless recommended, and should be monitored to make sure they spit out fluoride toothpaste or rinses after brushing.

Most drinking water already has natural levels of fluoride, which normally aren’t a problem. If you are concerned about high fluoride levels in your local water, talk to us. If your water has higher levels of fluoride than normal, you can minimize consumption when your baby is young by breastfeeding, using non-fluoridated water for mixing with formula powder or concentrate, or buying prepared formula. If your child is a toddler, don’t add fluoride rinses or supplements unless they are recommended by a dental or medical professional.

Talk to us during your visit to our office about protecting your child’s teeth. We are happy to help you find just the right amount of fluoride to keep young smiles stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. Healthy teeth in a beautiful smile—that’s a perfect balance!

Ease up on your gums — don’t brush your teeth too hard!

February 4th, 2020

A lot of patients go at their teeth like they were sanding an old floor—that is to say, way too hard! Brushing too hard is probably the most common mistake patients make in their oral care routine, and it can be detrimental to the gums and teeth.

What can brushing too hard cause?

  • Receding gums
  • Bone loss around teeth
  • Loss of teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold
  • Worn down enamel

Brushing too hard wears away at your gums, which can lead to the neck of the teeth being exposed. This part of the tooth isn't covered by hard enamel like the rest of the tooth and hence the soft inner layer, or dentin, is exposed. Dentin is very sensitive to hot and cold and much more susceptible to bacterial decay. Once the gums recede due to improper brushing, it’s usually irreversible.

How to brush teeth properly

You know you're supposed to brush your teeth twice a day, so why not do it right? First and foremost, you should only ever brush with a soft bristled brush—not medium or hard—unless directed otherwise by our office. Unless you have braces or specific oral health issues, brushing twice a day for two minutes is usually plenty.

The main purpose of brushing is to remove plaque from your teeth and gums. Plaque is actually soft and is a buildup of bacteria, saliva, and food debris. You really don't need to brush hard to remove it, just make sure you aim your toothbrush at the gum line (where plaque grows) and brush in small circular motions, never a back-and-forth motion.

It's also wise to hold your toothbrush gently. People tend to brush harder the tighter they hold their toothbrush.

Still have questions about proper tooth brushing technique or gum health? Ask any staff member during your next visit to our office; we'd be happy to help!

Treatment and Diagnosis for Your Child’s Teeth Grinding

January 22nd, 2020

The habit of grinding teeth can be both painful and harmful for your children. If you discover that they are frequently grinding their teeth—a condition called bruxism—here is some helpful information on the problem, and how you can find help to put a halt to it.

How to Know if Your Child is Grinding

Sometimes, identifying a child that grinds teeth is as simple as checking in while he or she is asleep. At other times, you may not be able to readily identify the grinding problem. A few of the most common symptoms associated with bruxism include:

  • Frequent teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw (in some cases it may be more subtle; in others it may be loud enough that you can hear it)
  • Teeth that are worn down
  • Complaints of sensitive teeth
  • Pain or tightness in the jaw muscles, or an earache or other jaw pain
  • Frequent unexplained headaches

In most cases, if your children are grinding their teeth, they will do it at night. If the teeth grinding is a result of excessive amounts of stress, it may also happen during the daytime. Some of the most common reasons children grind their teeth involve:

  • Improper alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • As a response to pain, especially for tooth, jaw, or gum pain
  • Excessive stress, tension, or anger

Treatment Options for Bruxism

In many cases, children will grow out of the teeth grinding as their permanent teeth develop, replacing poorly aligned or painful baby teeth. If your child grinds his or her teeth more frequently, or you begin to notice significant damage, it may be more serious and need to be addressed before it causes more permanent pain or problems.

In some cases, our team may recommend that your child wears a protective mouthguard to prevent grinding, or work with a therapist or other specialist to develop awareness of the grinding. If the grinding is caused by stress or anxiety, it may be helpful for you to sit down and talk to your child each day about how she is feeling, and why, to help her work through the stress.

Teeth grinding can be a painful, problematic condition for some children. However, a combination of parental vigilance and frequent visits for regular checkups at our office can help. If you are concerned that your child may be grinding his or her teeth, and it could cause permanent damage before the child grows out of it, come talk to us about strategies for dealing with bruxism, and ways for you to help your child.

Can children be at risk for periodontal disease?

January 3rd, 2020

You want to check all the boxes when you consider your child’s dental health. You make sure your child brushes twice daily to avoid cavities. You’ve made a plan for an orthodontic checkup just in case braces are needed. You insist on a mouthguard for dental protection during sports. One thing you might not have considered? Protecting your child from gum disease.

We often think about gum disease, or periodontitis, as an adult problem. In fact, children and teens can suffer from gingivitis and other gum disease as well. There are several possible reasons your child might develop gum disease:

Poor dental hygiene

Two minutes of brushing twice a day is the recommended amount of time to remove the bacteria and plaque that cause gingivitis (early gum disease). Flossing is also essential for removing bacteria and plaque from hard-to-reach areas around the teeth.

Puberty

The hormones that cause puberty can also lead to gums that become irritated more easily when exposed to plaque. This is a time to be especially proactive with dental health.

Medical conditions

Medical conditions such as diabetes can bring an increased risk of gum disease. Be sure to give us a complete picture of your child’s health, and we will let you know if there are potential complications for your child’s gums and teeth and how we can respond to and prevent them.

Periodontal diseases

More serious periodontal diseases, while relatively uncommon, can affect children and teens as well as adults. Aggressive periodontitis, for example, results in connective and bone tissue loss around the affected teeth, leading to loose teeth and even tooth loss. Let us know if you have a family history of gum disease, as that might be a factor in your child’s dental health, and tell us if you have noticed any symptoms of gum disease.

How can we help our children prevent gum disease? Here are some symptoms you should never ignore:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Redness or puffiness in the gums
  • Gums that are pulling away, or receding, from the teeth
  • Bad breath even after brushing

The best treatment for childhood gum disease is prevention. Careful brushing and flossing and regular visits to our office for a professional cleaning will stop gingivitis from developing and from becoming a more serious form of gum disease. We will take care to look for any signs of gum problems, and have suggestions for you if your child is at greater risk for periodontitis. Together, we can encourage gentle and proactive gum care, and check off one more goal accomplished on your child’s path to lifelong dental health!

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

December 19th, 2019

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. We hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

How to Care for a Teething Baby

November 19th, 2019

Every moment of your baby’s first year of life is precious, since every day your child grows a little, develops new skills, and discovers new things. Most of it is wonderful, but parents don’t like to see their babies in pain. That’s why teething can be such a hard experience. However, you can take steps to make it easier for you and your baby.

What to Expect

Most babies begin teething around the age of six months, when the lower central incisors start to appear. Shortly after this time, the upper central incisors poke through, followed by the lateral incisors, first molars, canines, and second molars. Unfortunately, you’ll probably know that your baby is teething not because you see these teeth come in, but because your baby will be in discomfort. These are some of the signs to watch for when you’re expecting your baby to begin teething.

  • Tender and sore gums

  • More drooling than before

  • Being crankier than usual

  • Chewing on hard objects

What You Can Do

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to make your child more comfortable. These are some approaches that our team recommends:

  • Take a clean moistened wash cloth or use your own washed finger to rub your baby’s gums and provide relief due to the pressure.

  • Provide a firm rubber teething ring for your baby to use, but don't use the type that is filled with liquid.

  • Use a bottle. A bottle filled with cold water can be soothing. Don’t give your baby formula, milk, or juice constantly because the sugar can cause tooth decay.

  • Medications can help for extreme crankiness. Infant Tylenol is an example, but it’s best to check with your pediatrician before giving your baby medications.

You might also want to take special care to dry the drool. It’s not just to keep yourself and your baby dry. Keeping your baby’s skin dry can help prevent irritation.

When to Visit Us

Once your child’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start thinking about your baby’s first trip to our office. The American Dental Association suggests that you bring your child to the dentist within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, or at about one year of age. We can do a quick check for tooth decay, and we’ll make sure you know how to take care of your child’s new teeth.

 

Fresh Breath All Day Long: 5 Ways to Help Your Child to Avoid Bad Breath

October 21st, 2019

Kids love getting dirty: finger food, playing in puddles, creating mud pies, and clothes riddled with marker stains. Messes are part of childhood, but when it comes to oral hygiene, it is super important to keep teeth clean! In addition to brushing and flossing, here are some tips to keep your child’s breath smelling fresh all day long:

  1. Drink lots of water: The leading cause of bad breath is a dry mouth. Water washes away leftover food particles and can dilute any stinky chemicals or bacteria that may be sitting around.

  1. Snack on fruits and vegetables: The abrasive quality of fibrous fruits and veggies like apples, celery, pineapple, and carrots, helps to clean teeth and naturally scrub away bacteria. 

  1. Yogurt or cheese: The active bacteria found in cultured dairy, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, reduce bacterial compounds that cause bad breath! (Make sure to have unsweetened yogurt, because added sugars can have the opposite effect!)

  1. Herbs: Home garden? Let your child chew on herbs like mint, dill, or sage. Essential oils in the leaves naturally freshen breath.

  1. Sugar free gum: Any snack that increases the amount of saliva in your mouth acts as a natural mouthwash. Sugar free gum and candy contain xylitol, an artificial sugar, which the bad bacteria will cling to.

Pro tip: When deciding between mint or cinnamon, go with the latter! Although mint is good at masking smells, the essential oils in cinnamon are known to fight pesky bacteria!

Adding these habits to your child's daily routine will be a sure way of keeping bad breath away! Creating a daily oral health routine for your child is immensely important, because an achievable oral hygiene routine goes hand in hand with fresh breath and a healthy smile. 

Have any tips yourself? We'd love for you to share them with us next time you're in the office! 

 

Infant Teething Remedies: What Might Help—And What to Avoid

September 19th, 2019

Some lucky babies wake one morning displaying a brand new tooth to the complete surprise of their unsuspecting parents! But your happy baby is irritable and drooling. Or your hearty eater doesn’t feel like finishing her food. Perhaps she finds it hard to go to sleep when she’s usually nodded off before you finish the first lullaby. A small number of children suffer little or no discomfort teething, but for the majority of babies who do, here are some helpful ways to ease their teething pain.

  • Massage--Rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger or piece of gauze—gentle pressure is all you need. And do be careful of your fingers once those teeth start coming in!
  • Chewing—there are many colorful and easy to grasp teething toys available, including BPA-free models.
  • Cool Relief—Cool a solid teether in the refrigerator to help ease discomfort. Placing a teething ring in the freezer is not recommended, as extreme cold can be damaging to little mouths and gums.
  • Comfort Food—If your baby is eating solid foods, try cold applesauce or other purees.
  • Skin Care—Drooling is often part of the teething process, but try to keep your child’s face free from rash and chaffing by wiping with a clean cloth when necessary.

And while you are trying to keep your baby comfortable, also be sure to keep them safe!

  • Know what your baby is putting into their mouth. All teething items should be non-toxic and free of harmful chemicals. Teethers filled with fluids may break or leak, so a solid toy is best.
  • Make teething items size-appropriate. Avoid anything small or breakable that might present a choking hazard.
  • Over-the-counter gels and liquids containing benzocaine, meant to reduce pain in the gums and mouth, may on rare occasion lead to serious health conditions in small children. Always check with us or your pediatrician before buying an over-the-counter teething medication for your baby.

For many babies, teething can be a long and sometimes difficult process. If there is anything we can do to help you and your baby in this journey, please give our office a call!

Why should I have my child’s wisdom teeth removed?

August 29th, 2019

The wisdom teeth are the last of the permanent molars to emerge from the gums. This can occur as early as age 17 or as late as 21. Though some teens and young adults experience a completely normal tooth eruption with ideally aligned molars that pose no health threat, this is not the case for everyone.

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), wisdom teeth must meet specific criteria to avoid a required extraction. These guidelines include:

  • Completely erupted and non-impacted
  • Completely functional
  • Painless
  • Free of decay
  • Disease-free
  • Capable of being properly cleaned

If one or more of your child’s wisdom teeth do not meet these conditions, we recommend scheduling an appointment with us; an extraction may be necessary.

Impacted wisdom teeth

One of the most common reasons for extracting a wisdom tooth is due to impaction. An impacted wisdom tooth is one that has not erupted and will not fully erupt from the gums. Usually this occurs because there is not enough room for the tooth to emerge. Impaction can be painful and can also lead to infection if left untreated. According to the AAOMS, roughly 90 percent of the teen and adult population has at least one impacted tooth. Extracting an impacted wisdom tooth early can help prevent future complications, such as periodontal disease, infections, and damage to neighboring teeth.

Extracting fully erupted wisdom teeth

Even if your child’s wisdom teeth are fully erupted, our team may recommend removing them as a preventive measure. Fully-erupted third molars often interfere with a healthy bite. This can lead to problems with tooth and jaw alignment and may also contribute to the development of headaches. Your child’s wisdom teeth may also be more prone to tooth decay and gum disease, because their location in the back of the mouth makes them more difficult to reach for brushing and flossing.

To learn more about wisdom teeth, or to schedule an appointment with us, please give us a call!

Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

August 12th, 2019

Our team hears this question a lot. While many people believe periodontal disease is an adult problem, studies have indicated that periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, as well as other serious infections such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are prevalent among kids and adolescents. First, let’s identify the differences between gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease in which only your child’s gums are affected. Characterized by swollen and red gums that bleed easily, gingivitis causes an inflammation of the gums, and is the first stage and mildest form of periodontal disease. The good news is that gingivitis is often reversible. Treatment for gingivitis includes having your child come in for a professional teeth cleaning. It also includes daily brushing, which will help eliminate plaque from the surfaces of your child’s teeth. Your child should also get in the habit of flossing daily to remove plaque and food particles wedged in the crevices between his or her teeth.

Periodontitis

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease that can not only damage your child’s gum tissue, but also destroy the underlying bone which supports the teeth. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. In some cases, the bacteria from the ensuing infection may also be distributed to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, periodontal ligament, and bone that surround and support your child’s teeth. Periodontal disease causes gums to become red, swollen, and tender, and can even cause the gums to recede (pull away) from the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

Having persistent at-home oral care regimen is a critical step in your child’s fight against periodontal disease. But sometimes brushing and flossing are simply not enough. Having your child’s teeth cleaned twice a year, or as recommended, is crucial.

Early diagnosis of gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease can give you and your child peace of mind. If you are concerned your child is suffering from gum disease, we recommend that you give us a call. We look forward to working with you and giving your child a smile to last a lifetime!

5 Food Swaps for Healthy Teeth

July 25th, 2019

When it comes to taking care of our teeth, striving for perfection is unrealistic. Rather than completely cutting out foods that may harm your smile, try swapping them for less damaging alternatives. 

Below are 5 easy food swaps you can make for clean, shiny teeth!

 

  1. Swap sticky candies or dried fruit for the fresh stuff. It’s no surprise that sour gummies and caramel are not dentist approved snacks, but did you know that dried fruits are also concentrated with sugars that get stuck in your teeth? Curb that sugar craving with fresh fruits instead. Because the fruit fibers are less likely to stick to your teeth, they are also less likely to invite bacteria to sit in your mouth. Really craving candy? Choose chocolate instead, which easily melts or washes away.

  1. Drink carbonated water instead of soda. Soda and sports drinks are loaded with sugar and often contain phosphoric and citric acids that wear away tooth enamel. If you can’t give up carbonated beverages or sweet drinks, opt for fresh fruit juice (with as few ingredients as possible) or sparkling waters with natural flavoring!

  1. Cut back on citrus fruits. - You may be thinking, “What? I thought fruits were good for me?”They are in moderation, but the acid in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges can wear down tooth enamel over time, so be careful how much you eat and drink. Keep in mind, also, that all citrus is not created equal. Grapefruit for example tends to cause more damage, while orange causes the least.

  1. Chew sugar-free gum. When chewing gum, saliva spreads sugars around your teeth and gums and bacteria can build up. However, sugar-free gum can actually help to clean your teeth. The saliva it produces can naturally wash away bacteria.  Plus, many sugarless gum brands are sweetened with xylitol, an alcohol that reduces bacteria. Double whammy!

  1. Eat anything but white bread! You know the feeling: you take a bite of a sandwich and the bread sticks to the roof of your mouth or between your molars. When this happens, sugar (and cavity causing bacteria) are sticking too. All bread contains sugars that can be harmful to teeth, but white bread has the highest sugar content of all breads. We suggest choosing whole grain bread instead. The tougher consistency makes it less likely for sticking to occur.

Your child’s oral hygiene habits are being created right now! Making small changes like those suggested above can have a big effect on their long term oral health.

 

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

June 17th, 2019

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skateboarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to us about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Are My Child’s Baby Teeth on Schedule?

May 31st, 2019

 

Your darling three-month old is crying and fussy—can she be teething already? Or, your happy baby boy has just celebrated his first birthday—with only one tooth in that beautiful, gummy smile. Is this normal? Probably! While baby teeth do typically erupt (come in) in the same order for all babies, and around the same time, there is still a lot of flexibility in the time it takes for a full, healthy smile to develop.

Baby teeth actually form before your baby is born, and those 20 teeth are there under the gums waiting to come out and shine. And even though there are no firm and fast dates for each of these primary teeth to erupt, it’s helpful to have a general overview of typical teething patterns so you know what to look forward to.

Incisors

These little teeth create a charming baby smile, and, if your finger has been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a very sharp one as well! That is because these tiny incisors are made to bite into foods. You might notice this when you introduce solid foods, even if the majority of your child’s “chewing” is done with her back gums. These teeth are the earliest to arrive.

  • Six to ten months old: The lower central incisors (bottom front teeth) are often the first to come in.

  • Eight to 12 months old: The upper incisors (8-12 months) are the next to show.

  • Nine to 13 months old: The upper lateral incisors on each side of the front teeth arrive.

  • Ten to 16 months old: The lower lateral incisors appear.

First Molars

Because these are larger teeth, babies often experience another bout of teething pain at this time. The large flat surface of each molar helps your child to chew and grind food, so he can handle a wider variety of foods and develop his chewing skills.

  • 13 to 19 months old: You can generally expect to see the upper first molars arrive.

  • 14 to 18 months old: The lower first molars appear.

Canines (Cuspids)

Fitting between the first molars and the incisors, the strong, pointed shape of the canine teeth allows your child to grip food and break it apart more easily.

  • 16 to 22 months old: The upper two canines make their way into the space between the incisors and the first molars.

  • 17 to 23 months old: The two lower canines appear.

Second Molars

By the age of three, most children have a full set of baby teeth.

  • 23 to 31 months old: The second pair of bottom molars start erupting—you are in the home stretch!

  • 25 to 33 months old: The upper second molars come in—completing that beautiful set of 20 teeth!

Baby teeth are extremely important, as our will tell you when you visit our office. They help your child eat and chew, develop face and jaw muscles, assist proper speech formation, and provide space for the adult teeth to come in properly. Now that your child’s smile is complete, keep providing him with the same care and attention you have been giving those little teeth since the arrival of the very first incisor.

It seems that so much of new parenthood is scheduling—when to feed her, when to put her to bed, how many hours between naps. But we soon find out that every baby is not on the same schedule, and the same is true for the arrival of their teeth. We should see your baby when that first tooth comes in, or by his or her first birthday. And if you ever have concerns at any time about your child’s teething schedule or teething delays, always feel free to give us a call.

Pediatric Dentistry Q&A

May 16th, 2019

Today, our team thought we would answer some of the most frequent questions about pediatric dentistry and oral health we hear from parents.

What constitutes a “healthy, balanced diet” for my child?

A healthy, balanced diet contains all the nutrients your child needs to grow, including one serving each of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and eggs per day. Make sure your child limits snacking in between meals and limits how frequently they consume food or beverages that contain sugar, which is known to cause tooth decay. Besides pastries, cookies, and candy, sugars are usually found in processed foods such as crackers, cereals, and soda, as well as in condiments like ketchup.

Should my kid give up all foods that contain sugar?

Absolutely not, we simply recommend choosing and serving sugars sparingly. A food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. When your child chews during his or her meal, the saliva produced helps neutralize the acids that are found in sugary and starchy foods. Foods that are not easily washed away from your child’s teeth by saliva, water, or milk have more cavity-causing potential.

What causes cavities?

Many types of bacteria live in our mouths—some good, some bad. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on your child’s teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids then attack the enamel, and eventually eat through the enamel and create holes in the teeth, which our team call cavities, or caries.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

This is a great question that we hear a lot. Make sure that your child brushes his teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, as flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing simply can’t. And finally, we encourage you to schedule regular appointments with us so that we can check the state of your child’s teeth and gums, as well as provide a professional cleaning to protect him or her from cavities and gum disease.

What is the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?

We recommend you clean your baby’s gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. This is even before your baby’s first tooth appears. As soon as his or her first tooth does appear, you may begin using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore or ask us for one during your next visit.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, we recommend rinsing the irritated area with warm salt water and placing a cold compress on his or her face if it is swollen. If you have any at home, give your child acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the affected teeth or gums. Finally, give us a call as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.

We hope that helps! Please give us a call if you have any questions or ask us next time you visit our office for your child’s appointment! If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

 

Can This Sweetener Promote Healthy Teeth?

April 25th, 2019

Eating too much sugar can lead to tooth decay, but it can be difficult to find snacks or cook without sugar. However, there is an all-natural sweetener that can help clean teeth and still satisfy your sweet tooth. Here’s how sugar can lead to cavities, and why xylitol is a sugar substitute you should know about. 

Sugar Fuels Cavities 

Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria on your teeth, and creates acid that erodes enamel. This causes plaque and ultimately cavities, which is why you should limit the number of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. 

Before buying your children snacks, check the back of the package for the amount of sugar contained in the snack. Try to avoid sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice and sports drinks, all of which are notoriously high in sugar. It can be hard to find packaged snacks without a lot of sugar, so you may consider adding more fruits and vegetables to your family’s diet. This can help cut a lot of sugar out of your overall diet, and improve your oral health. 

Xylitol is a Sweetener, but Not Sugar 

Xylitol is a lot like sugar, but it’s actually very different in some very important ways. In fact, Xylitol has the sweet benefits of traditional sugar, but it doesn’t have the negative effects on teeth like sugar. 

Microscopic Differences 

Sugar comes from the sugar cane plant, and is genetically different from xylitol. Xylitol naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables, and its genetic makeup is much healthier for teeth than traditional sugar. The proteins and carbohydrates in traditional sugar fuel cavities, while the genetic makeup of xylitol prevents this from occurring.  By preventing acidic attacks on teeth, xylitol can actually help strengthen enamel and prevent future tooth decay.

Xylitol Stimulates Saliva Production  

One way the mouth fights cavities is by producing saliva to wash away food debris, and restore its proper Ph balance. Xylitol naturally stimulates saliva that aids in overall oral health. Increased saliva can help prevent bad breath by eliminating dry mouth, and prevent prolonged exposure to acid and sugar caused by food debris.

Try Xylitol

Xylitol comes in granules that resemble traditional sugar, and it is incredibly easy to substitute in place of sugar. You can buy xylitol “sugar” from health food stores and natural grocers, usually in the baking aisle. Try substituting xylitol for sugar in your recipes, and see if the taste is affected. By incorporating more xylitol – and reducing your sugar intake – you can gain vital oral health benefits. 

 

A good way to try xylitol is by getting gum sweetened with xylitol. Try chewing it 15 minutes after a meal to improve your saliva production, and naturally clean your teeth. Xylitol gum with help you rid your mouth of food debris, and combat bad breath. You can find xylitol gum in most pharmacieshealth food stores, or online.  

 

Visit Our Office

By maintaining a healthier diet, you can help your child prevent cavities and promote a healthier smile. You should also encourage them to brush twice per day for two minutes at a time, and floss once daily. Additionallyit’s important to visit our office every six months so that we can keep an eye on the state of your child’s smile and determine a treatment plan that keeps them cavity-free. 

Kids and Starbucks – Should Parents be Concerned?

February 22nd, 2018

As a parent, you have the world on your mind when it comes to raising your child. A healthy diet is one of the primary concerns of most parents, and can go a long way in helping children get healthy teeth. Unfortunately, some of your child’s favorite drinks at Starbucks are packed with sugar, and terrible for their teeth.

Sugar is the Enemy

Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria on teeth, and creates acid that erodes enamel. This causes plaque and ultimately cavities, which is why you should limit the number of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. Unfortunately, most of your kid’s favorite drinks from Starbucks are absolutely LOADED with sugar. 

Top 3 Worst Starbucks Drinks for Kids Teeth

The American Heart Association recommends children limit their daily sugar intake to less than 26 grams per day, and adults should have less than 36 grams per day. Unfortunately, most of the items on Starbucks’ menu far exceed 30 grams of sugar – even if the drink is a “small” (tall) on the menu.

1 - Any Frappuccino

One of the most popular drinks aimed at kids, Frappuccinos, are absolutely loaded with sugar - each of which contains AT LEAST 50 grams of sugar per drink. Frappuccinos come in a variety of flavors, but each of them contains far more sugar than your child needs to consume in one day.

2 – Iced White Chocolate Mocha

Another iced drink, the Iced White Chocolate Mocha contains 54 grams of sugar per drink, which is far too much sugar for one drink to contain. That’s because white chocolate is made with vanilla, and sweetened with sugar when it’s processed.

3 - Cinnamon Dolce Crème

Here’s an item from the kid’s menu that is terrible for teeth. The Cinnamon Dolce Crème doesn’t have caffeine, but it is loaded with sugar at 28 grams of sugar in a tall drink, and 37 grams in a grande.

Don’t be Fooled by the Kids Menu

Starbucks has a kid’s menu that features drinks with less sugar and caffeine than their other beverages. But, don’t be fooled: each drink contains at least 25 grams of sugar, and the steamed apple juice has a whopping 50 grams of sugar. If you choose to get your child a beverage from Starbucks, go with a hot, decaffeinated tea and a little bit of honey.

Visit Our Office

We suggest that your child avoids visiting Starbucks, and instead focuses on drinking more water and real fruit juices. Drinks from Starbucks are loaded with sugar that can cause cavities, and lead to other oral health issues.   

Visit our office for more information about a mouth-healthy diet that can help your child grow a healthy smile.

Kids and Starbucks – Should Parents be Concerned?

February 22nd, 2018

As a parent, you have the world on your mind when it comes to raising your child. A healthy diet is one of the primary concerns of most parents, and can go a long way in helping children get healthy teeth. Unfortunately, some of your child’s favorite drinks at Starbucks are packed with sugar, and terrible for their teeth.

Sugar is the Enemy

Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria on teeth, and creates acid that erodes enamel. This causes plaque and ultimately cavities, which is why you should limit the number of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. Unfortunately, most of your kid’s favorite drinks from Starbucks are absolutely LOADED with sugar. 

Top 3 Worst Starbucks Drinks for Kids Teeth

The American Heart Association recommends children limit their daily sugar intake to less than 26 grams per day, and adults should have less than 36 grams per day. Unfortunately, most of the items on Starbucks’ menu far exceed 30 grams of sugar – even if the drink is a “small” (tall) on the menu.

1 - Any Frappuccino

One of the most popular drinks aimed at kids, Frappuccinos, are absolutely loaded with sugar - each of which contains AT LEAST 50 grams of sugar per drink. Frappuccinos come in a variety of flavors, but each of them contains far more sugar than your child needs to consume in one day.

2 – Iced White Chocolate Mocha

Another iced drink, the Iced White Chocolate Mocha contains 54 grams of sugar per drink, which is far too much sugar for one drink to contain. That’s because white chocolate is made with vanilla, and sweetened with sugar when it’s processed.

3 - Cinnamon Dolce Crème

Here’s an item from the kid’s menu that is terrible for teeth. The Cinnamon Dolce Crème doesn’t have caffeine, but it is loaded with sugar at 28 grams of sugar in a tall drink, and 37 grams in a grande.

Don’t be Fooled by the Kids Menu

Starbucks has a kid’s menu that features drinks with less sugar and caffeine than their other beverages. But, don’t be fooled: each drink contains at least 25 grams of sugar, and the steamed apple juice has a whopping 50 grams of sugar. If you choose to get your child a beverage from Starbucks, go with a hot, decaffeinated tea and a little bit of honey.

Visit Our Office

We suggest that your child avoids visiting Starbucks, and instead focuses on drinking more water and real fruit juices. Drinks from Starbucks are loaded with sugar that can cause cavities, and lead to other oral health issues.   

Visit our office for more information about a mouth-healthy diet that can help your child grow a healthy smile.

2017 Candy Buy Back!

October 19th, 2017

Halloween can be a fantastic time for families to dress up in spooky costumes, and inherit quite a lot of candy! While candy can be really tasty, it is terrible for teeth, and much of it goes uneaten every year. Our dental office is trying to help out by hosting our annual candy buy back campaign, which rewards children with cash for exchanging their candy. Even better is that the majority of the candy will be donated to Operation Gratitude, which gives troops serving abroad a taste of home.

Operation Gratitude annually sends upwards of 200,000 care packages filled with food, entertainment, hygiene, and handmade items, plus personal letters of appreciation to members of our armed forces. It’s an amazing way to say “Thank You” to all who serve, and help them feel more at home while they’re serving.

Each Halloween, we offer our young patients a chance to trade in their hard earned trick-or-treat candy for a little bit of money. For each pound of candy that they donate, we give them 1 dollar in cash. Then, we take the candy and send it to Operation Gratitude to help give our armed service men and women a little slice of home.

Contact our office if you would like to participate in our candy buy back, and support our troops with the help of Operation Gratitude.

Healthy Habits for your Kids

October 15th, 2014

Your kids’ teeth problems are usually quite common, and usually not serious. Most importantly, according to Colgate, all children’s teeth and gum issues are fixable.

You may have the toughest kid on the block, but even if your little boy or girl is able to handle themselves in the playground, your dentist will tell you that the enamel on their teeth isn’t nearly as strong.

Because the enamel on your kids teeth is fifty percent thinner than what coats your teeth, sugar can attack more readily leading to tooth decay. If the decay is not taken care of as soon as possible, cavities will develop. Regular dental checkups will solve the problem allowing your pediatric dentist to address the issue before it develops any further.

Dental Sealants are another way to prevent cavities from developing in your child’s molars. Those back teeth have tiny grooves and fissures that are impossible to brush. Dental Sealants are actually painted on to the teeth helping prevent tooth decay.

These days more kids are drinking bottled water. Unfortunately, bottled water does not contain fluoride, which is essential for replacing mineral loss in the enamel on your kid’s teeth. Fluoride can also help prevent dental caries. Ask your dentist about fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses for kids if you and your family do not drink tap water.

Although the holidays are just around the corner, and your kids are probably still enjoying their Halloween candy, it is imperative that you keep those treats to a minimum. If your son or daughter got into the trick or treat bag a few times too many, make sure they rinse well with water. Better yet, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist just to be safe.

Diet is imperative to a healthy mouth. Show your kids the importance of healthy foods and make sure that you incorporate healthy choices at mealtime. Avoid sugary treats, especially soft drinks and candy, and keep those chips and other starchy foods out of the house.

When it comes to your kid’s teeth common sense prevails. Watch what your children eat, teach them healthy brushing and flossing habits, and make sure to schedule regular dental checkups with your pediatric dentist.

Remember the oral hygiene habits that you teach your kids today will help them keep their teeth for the rest of their lives.

Bruxism Could Be To Blame for Your Childs Earaches

October 1st, 2014

Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is a condition caused by stress and anxiety, but bruxism can also occur in children.

According to the American Dental Association, bruxism is common in children. Experts say that three out of every ten kids will clench or grind their teeth. Bruxism has been reported in about twenty percent of kids up until they the age of 11. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding occurs when kids are in a deep sleep or under stress. However, because kid’s jaws and teeth change and grow quickly, it is usually outgrown by adolescence.

When your kids are asleep, the last thing you want to hear is grinding and tooth gnashing. Although there have been several studies conducted, no one really knows for sure why bruxism occurs. Some possible causes include misaligned teeth, allergies, or mouth irritations. Your dentist explains that kids may also grind teeth to ease pain from teething or an earache. Anger or nervous tension can also be a possible cause, especially if there has been a change to his or her normal routine. Arguing family members can also cause jaw clenching or tooth grinding because of additional stress. Hyperactivity could also be another cause of bruxism.

Most cases of bruxism often go undetected. Unless your child is experiencing earaches or headaches, there may not be any adverse effects. Usually it is the family members who are most bothered by bruxism because of the sound of tooth grinding and gnashing.

Depending on the child, your dentist will tell you that teeth clenching and grinding can actually wear down the enamel on the teeth, cause chipping, or tooth breakage. Other effects that may occur from bruxism include temperature sensitivity, jaw problems, and severe facial pain. Although it is not common in children, problems with the temporomandibular joint or TMJ may be to blame, especially if clenching and grinding is chronic.

Bruxism episodes last about four seconds and can happen about six times in an hour. In a recent study, it was found that bruxism episodes occur in stage two and REM sleep and in clusters.

If you suspect that your child may be suffering from bruxism, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist who can help determine the cause of your kids clenching and grinding.

What You and Your Kids Should Know about Tooth Decay

September 15th, 2014

According to your Web MD, quite a few things can cause tooth decay, and if you want your kids to grow up with less fillings than you did, pay close attention to the list below.

If your children have had lots of cavities in the past, chances are, they will have them in the future. Make sure that your kids practice good oral hygiene, and if you are unsure, schedule an appointment with your dentist who may be able to improve the way your kids brush and floss.

Every mouth is loaded with bacteria. Combine that with food it is like smearing acid on the tooth or teeth. Eventually acid will eat away at the enamel causing tooth decay. Keep your kids away from sugar and sticky dried fruits and make sure they rinse after eating.

These days it seems like sugar is added to everything, even so called healthy fruit juices. When you shop for groceries read the labels and try to stay away from starchy foods such as white bread that are loaded with sugar.

If your teenager has had fillings in the past, make sure that your dentist checks all old dental restorations. Poor quality fillings can leak causing plaque to form in the cracks and crevices.

Fruit is good for kids, but try to include citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits as part of a meal. If your children do eat citrus fruits make sure that they rinse after eating.

If your kids drink bottled water, they are not getting the fluoride that they need. Ask your dentist to recommend a good fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse as bottled water does not contain fluoride.

Nursing your baby too long will put your kids at risk. Recent research has indicated that prolonged breast and bottle-feeding could put children in the high-risk category when it comes to cavities.

Cavities under existing fillings can be a problem at any age, and if your teens have dental restorations, make sure that your dentist checks for fractures and breakages.

If your kids have braces, their risk of cavities is much greater. Metal mouth appliances make it difficult to brush and almost impossible to floss. Ask your dentist about floss threaders, which help the floss, get under the wires.

For more information on oral hygiene and tooth decay, schedule an appointment with your kid’s dentist today.

Seven Tips for a Healthy Mouth

September 1st, 2014

According to the American Dental Association and your dentist, taking your son or daughter to the dentist doesn’t have to be a nightmare, in fact, when you visit a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentistry it can actually be a fun experience.

The most important thing to remember is to prepare your child before each dental appointment. Give your son or daughter a general overview so that they know what to expect. Say things like, “The dentist is going to look at your gums and your teeth, take a few pictures, and use a special toothbrush to clean your teeth.”

Make sure that you do not pass your own dental visit fears on to your kids. Even if you have a real dental phobia, it is imperative that you make sure that you tell your children that the dentist is there to help keep their teeth healthy so that they can have a pretty smile.

Your dentist recommends that you follow the procedures below in order to keep fillings and other dental procedures to a minimum.

Teach your kids to brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice each day, especially after dinner. Fluoride toothpaste should be kept to the size of a pea for children under three.

Make sure that your kids are brushing correctly. If you are unsure that your son or daughter has the brushing down pat, you may want to do it yourself until your child is about seven or eight years old, and make sure that you watch as they brush.

As soon as your kids have teeth that touch together start flossing. Bacteria and food can be lodged between the teeth and as your dentist will tell you, flossing is the best way to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Keep candy and sticky foods to a minimum. Because dried fruit and chewy treats can stick to the grooves and fissure, rinsing and even brushing may not get rid of the sugar.

Those sippy cups could be causing problems for your kid’s teeth. If your son or daughter must sip on something, go with water. Fruit juices and other sugary drinks when sipped are like bathing teeth in sugar.

Never send your child to bed with juice or milk unless brushing is planned before they go to sleep. If they are thirsty, water is your best bet.

Teach your kids to eat plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Your dentist will tell you that diet plays a huge roll in dental health.

If you would like more information regarding dental health for kids, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist today.

Oral Piercings Can Cause Problems for Teeth and Gums

August 15th, 2014

These days teens are fascinated with tattoos and body piercings, and while these 21st century fads seem to be all the rage, but your dentist will tell you that there are some things that both you and your teen should be aware of, especially if your son or daughter has been considering oral piercing.

According to the American Dental Association, tongue splitting and oral piercing can cause serious health issues, and although it is a popular way of expressing oneself, it can be dangerous.

Your mouth is full of bacteria, and when you or your teens pierce your tongue, or cheek, swelling can occur. Reported cases even include an emergency tracheotomy because the person’s tongue swelled so much that it cut of the airway.

Your dentist has seen other problems with oral piercings and tongue splitting including choking, endocarditis and even hepatitis. Bite down too hard on the jewelry and you risk a cracked tooth not to mention the jewelry constantly clicking up against your teeth.

Pierced lips, cheeks, tongues, and uvulas, which are the tissue that hangs at the back of your throat, will interfere with swallowing, eating, and talking. Oral piercing can also cause swelling, pain and infection, as your mouth is moist and a breeding ground for bacteria. Infections can be life threatening, and if not treated immediately could cause serious problems.

Because people with mouth jewelry constantly play or bite on the ring or post, it can cause damage to gums eventually leading to sensitive and cracked teeth. Oral piercings can also cause damage to existing dental fillings.

Teens and adults who have oral piercings may not realize that they could be hypersensitive to metals causing allergic reactions. Nerve damage can also occur, and that numb tongue that you had right after the piercing occurred, could become permanent. If this happens it will affect how your mouth moves and your sense of taste. If the blood vessels in your tongue have been damaged you could be susceptible to excessive blood loss. Because tongue piercing increases your saliva flow, you could be subjected to excessive drooling.

Oral piercings and tongue splitting may be cool, but getting sick isn’t. Before you or your teens take the leap, talk to your dentist who can share some of the risks and dangers of oral piercing and tongue splitting.

Put Dental Check Up On Your To Do List Before School Starts

August 1st, 2014

It won’t be long before the kids are back in school, but if you neglected to schedule an appointment with your kid’s dentist in Chicago, do it today.

Not all tooth decay causes pain. In fact, if your son or daughter has older fillings, dental caries could be hiding underneath.

Children of all ages can get cavities and it’s not always because of poor oral hygiene. According to recent studies, about four million preschoolers are dealing with tooth decay with that number rising by over 600,000 kids in the past decade. Sugar could be to blame as packaged foods, fruit juice and other snacks contain far more sugar than they did when you were a child. Bottled water could be another reason for the rise in tooth decay, as bottle water does not contain fluoride.

Tooth decay can also be hereditary, and if you had cavities when you were a kid, your children will most likely suffer as well. Soft teeth do not run in the family, but decay-causing bacteria do.

If your teeth have caused you problems over the years, it is imperative that you take action where your kid’s dental health is concerned. The American Academy of Pediatrics and your Chicago Kids Dentist recommends that you speak with your pediatric dentist making him or her aware of your own dental history. This will enable your dentist to take extra precautions such as dental sealants if your kids are in the high-risk category.

If your kids grind or clench their teeth while sleeping, dental fillings could be at risk. Constant pressure on tooth colored and amalgam fillings will cause them to crack, chip, or wear down. The only way to determine if the seals on your children’s fillings have broken down is to schedule an appointment with your kids dentist to avoid additional decay to a tooth that has been damaged in the past. If the decay is left untreated, it could damage the pulp leading to a dangerous abscess and an eventual root canal.

Get your kids ready for school this year and schedule a dental check up with your pediatric dentist in Chicago. After all, new clothes and school supplies shouldn’t be the only items on your to do list.

Teaching Your Kids the Dangers of Smoking

July 15th, 2014

As hard as it may seem to believe, kids are still taking up smoking. In fact, your Pediatric Dentist will tell you that tweens and teens are puffing cigarettes and chewing smokeless tobacco products more than ever. Hookah pipes are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and are just as dangerous as other tobacco products.

Although smoking is glamorized thanks to the tobacco industry, you still have more influence on your kids than the celebrities that smoke in the movies or on television.

If you suspect that your kids have started to smoke, sit down and have a heart to heart talk. Tell them how smoking can affect their bodies, including their teeth and gums. Explain to your sons and daughters that you do not want them to smoke. Consistent messages will get your point across making smoking less likely.

It’s never too early to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking and smokeless tobacco products. Not only does smoking affect your children’s health, but it can also cause serious issues to their teeth and gums. Gum disease, horrible staining, and receding gums are just a few of the problems that can occur with smoking. Start giving your children powerful messages about the dangers of smoking as early as five years old. Those early warnings may prevent them from taking up the habit, which can begin as early as 10 or 11 years old. Kids that have started before the teen years will become addicted to smoking or smokeless tobacco products by the time they reach the tender age of 14.

If you smoke, kick the habit. According to NBC News, parents who smoke or use smokeless tobacco or more likely to produce children who develop the habit at an early age. Let your kids know how difficult it is to stop smoking and how much you wish you had never started.

Keep a smoke free policy in your home and if you have friends or family members who indulge, make sure that it is never allowed inside or near your children.

Know your kids friends and find out if they smoke. Peer pressure can result in your son or daughter taking their first puff leading to a dangerous addiction.

If you catch your kids smoking, avoid ultimatums, threats, and punishment. Your Pediatric Dentist advises that you ask your son or daughter what the attraction to smoking is and what can be done to help kick the habit.

Point out to your kids that the tobacco industry spends billions of dollars in order to make their products appealing. Kids, especially teens that smoke may become angry helping to motivate them into quitting all together.

If you would like more information regarding smoking and oral health, schedule an appointment with your Dentist who may be able to help you and your kids stop smoking.

Root Canal Therapy Is Not Just for Adults

July 1st, 2014

Your kids can get tooth decay. Mild tooth decay may need to be filled with severe decay requiring a root canal, or a crown. It is imperative that you schedule a dental appointment with your Kids Dentist in Chicago when the first tooth erupts, usually at around six months.

Fillings are used to repair decayed or broken tooth. Common materials used include alloy, metal, porcelain, plastic, or a combination of materials. If you have toddler that has a cavity in a front tooth, your dentist will use a tooth colored resin.

Root canals are not just for adults. According to Colgate, kids may require a root canal if the cavity is too big and a filling isn’t enough to repair the damage. Root canal therapy is safe and effective, and may be necessary, even in baby teeth.

Your dentist explains that primary teeth are lost between six and twelve years of age, but if there is an infection or trauma, a root canal may be required.

Baby teeth function just like adult teeth. Missing teeth can cause problems regardless of how old your child is and can affect eating and talking.

Primary teeth serve as a guide when it comes to the proper placement of permanent teeth. If baby teeth are missing and lost before their time, primary teeth could become crowded or crooked. Without adequate space, adult teeth may be tilted or cause bite problems, which could lead to orthodontic treatment once your son or daughter gets older.

Because the inside of the tooth, or the pulp, is loaded with nerves and blood vessels problems could develop including pain and sensitivity. If the pulp is dying or diseased, root canal therapy may be needed before infection or a dangerous abscess develops.

Your Pediatric Dentist may use indirect pulp therapy by applying an antibiotic to the decay before sealing the damaged tooth. A pulpotomy may also be used to remove the damaged pulp while stabilizing the healthy portion of the pulp. Also called a partial root canal this treatment has been proven successful in many cases.

Of course, the only way to determine if your son or daughter requires a filling or a root canal is to schedule an appointment with your Pediatric Dentist.

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

June 15th, 2014

Baby bottle tooth decay, commonly known as nursing bottle syndrome, and nursing carries, happens when your child’s teeth are constantly in contact with beverages loaded with sugar. Formula, milk, fruit juice, and even fruit juice that you have diluted with water, can cause early childhood carries. Even if you breastfeed, your baby could still be susceptible to baby bottle tooth decay. Once any of these liquids begin to break down inside your child’s mouth, bacteria begins to feed on the sugars causing cavities and dental caries.

If your kids love to drink sugary beverages, it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist as baby bottle tooth decay can make it tough to eat and can cause pain.

Baby teeth act as space savers for your children’s adult teeth. Unfortunately if your kids baby teeth are damaged it could result in improper positioning. This could also result in crooked permanent teeth or overcrowding. If your kid’s teeth are decayed, an abscess could occur spreading the infection to other parts of the body.

According to Medicine Net, there are some things that you can do to help prevent nursing caries.

Substitute juices, milk and sugary liquids with water. If your child must have a watered down juice drink, follow with a baby bottle filled with water.

If your kids use pacifiers, never dip them in sugary liquids, honey, fruit juice, or plain sugar.

When you put your child down for bedtime or naptime, resist the urge to fill his or her baby bottle with sugary liquids or milk. Even watered down juice can increase the risk of tooth decay. Again, water is the best and will keep your kids hydrated while sleeping.

Because human breast milk can also cause dental caries, never allow your child to nurse while sleeping. Fill the bottle with water or give your child a pacifier.

Resist the urge to add sugar to your finicky eater’s food. Doing so will cause the bacteria in your child’s mouth to feed on the sugar eventually causing tooth decay.

Your dentist recommends that you wipe your baby’s mouth with a wet cloth even if your child does not have teeth. After each feeding, wipe the gums and any teeth that have erupted as this can help remove sugars and plaque.

Be sure and ask your pediatric dentist about fluoride. Too much can cause spots and permanent damage to your kids teeth. Not enough will cause tooth decay. If your water is not fluoridated your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments.

Lastly, teach your kids to use a sippy cup by the time they reach the age of one. Sippy cups help reduce sugar exposure. Have your son or daughter drink water, as sugary drinks, including milk, will cause tooth decay.

For more information regarding baby bottle tooth decay, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist who can help your kids keep their teeth for the rest of their lives.

Tooth Decay Could Be Genetic

June 1st, 2014

All people are susceptible to tooth decay, but infants, toddlers, adolescents, teens and tweens can be prone to cavities. In fact, the Center for Disease Control estimates that as many as 19 percent of children between two and nineteen live with cavities that are left untreated.

Children are twice as likely to get cavities because they do not brush and floss as they should. Dental caries, which can be passed from one to another, are actually communicable diseases that one family member can give to another because of cup and utensil sharing.

According to a Pediatric Dentist, there are a number of factors that could be contributing to your children’s tooth decay. Cavities form thanks to bacteria, sugars, and starches that accumulate on the teeth and gums. This dangerous mix creates acids that will deplete calcium, which is needed to keep your tooth enamel strong. The mouth germ, technically called mutans streptococcus is a germ causes plaque. Plaque coats your teeth with even more acid that adds to the tooth decay that has already started to form. Twenty seconds is all it takes for the bacteria to covert to acid after a sugary snack has been enjoyed. This happens several times during a meal. How you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Sucking on a hard candy all day is actually more detrimental than eating an entire bag of candy for lunch.

If you have been reading the Chicago Kids Dentist blog you will know how damaging sugar is to your kids teeth, but so are food items that most consider healthy. Fruit juice is highly acidic as is certain types of fish and bread. Carbonated drinks can also hurt teeth.

Of course, your kids don’t have to give these treats up completely. Ask your Pediatric Dentist about snacks that help produce saliva to wash away some of the dangerous acids. Keep snacking before bed to a minimum, and never give your son or daughter anything acidic before bedtime. Try giving your kids cheese following an acidic meal as it helps to neutralize the acids.

Before brushing, teach your kids to rinse after a meal. Wait approximately thirty minutes and then have them brush, as the acid works quickly making the enamel on your teeth more vulnerable if you or your kids brush immediately after eating.

These days, dentists understand how genetics affect teeth and gums. Just as your genes determine the color of your eyes, height and hair color, genes also affect teeth and gums right down to the hardness of the enamel. This explains why people who have impeccable oral hygiene habits find themselves sitting in the dentist’s chair more often than they would like.

If you would like more information on keeping your kids teeth healthy through adulthood, contact a Pediatric Dentist in your area who can help your kids keep their teeth well into the senior years.

Finding the Perfect Kids Dentist on the World Wide Web

May 15th, 2014

Finding the perfect dentist for the newest member of your family can be tough, especially if you have just moved the family across the country. Go online and you will see dozens of dentists in your area, but how do you know where to start? Pediatric Dentistry is a specialty, and if you don’t know anyone in the area and forgot to ask your old dentist for a recommendation, don’t panic.

Head to the web and do a search for dentists. Type in your city and zip code. If you are searching for a pediatric dentist on Google, include infant, toddler, or teen in the city name search. Once you have found a few suitable dentists in your new community start a list. Be sure to highlight the things you liked about the dentist and number your list in order of preference.

Check your list against the online review sites and see how each dentist ranks. Honest reviews are important, especially if you do not have any personal recommendations. If the reviews are mixed, keep looking. You want to find a dentist who ranks consistently with at least four stars.

Go through each dentist’s website with a fine tooth comb. Read the products and services page and don’t forget to check the dental teams about us page. You’ll want to find a dentist who provides you with his or her training and schooling and one who is continually furthering his or her dental education with classes, seminars and workshops.

The interior of the dentist’s office should be clean, comfortable, and inviting. Kids need to be kept busy, especially if they have had a bad experience with a dentist. First timers will appreciate games that will keep busy minds occupied before they meet with the pediatric dentist. A good pediatric dentist will have educational toys for the kids, updated magazines, and a television for you.

Call ahead. If you have narrowed down your search to three final candidates, call the office. Talk to the receptionist and see what kind of vibe you get. If your call was answered with a friendly hello and how can I help you, you are on the right track.

Ask questions. If the office is only open 3 days a week, you may want to rethink your number one choice. Fees, insurance plans, and payment options need to be discussed before you book a dental appointment as well.

Accidents happen and if your son has a dental emergency on the baseball field, it is vital that you have a pediatric dentist who is available 24 hours 7 days a week. Most dentists have a referral dentist whom they trust in the event of a dental emergency.

Trust your instincts. If you have a good feeling about a new dentist, schedule an appointment. You’ll know if the two of you are a good fit the first time you or any member of your family sits in the chair.

A Chicago Pediatric Dentist You Can Count on

May 1st, 2014

You may have had a fear of the dentist when you were young, and may still be afraid to sit in the dental chair however, it is vital that you do not pass that fear on to your kids. Your kids do not have to fear the dentist, in fact, not all kids are afraid of the dentist; especially if you make sure that your children understand how important dental hygiene and dental health is. According to the Kids Dentist in the Magnificent Mile District in Chicago, there are a few things you can do to put your kids at ease.

Before making an appointment with a Chicago Pediatric Dentist do your research. You want to make sure that the dentist you choose for your kids is specially trained to work with kids.

Ask your friends and family members whom they take their kids to. If they have had the same Pediatric Dentist for years, it’s a good bet that your new dentist will be the perfect fit for your family.

Before you take your child to the dentist, pay a visit to the office. If all you see is a few metal chairs and some outdated magazines, keep looking. You want to be sure that your new Pediatric Dentist have plenty of toys, games, books and videos to keep your children occupied. The staff from Chicago Kids DDS has created a welcoming environment that is fun for both parents and kids.

The team of pediatric dentists that you choose for your kids will need to be well versed on the latest technologies continuing their own education with workshops and seminars. Choose a pediatric dentist or a team of dentists who can meet with parents and kids in order to teach them good oral hygiene. This includes teaching your kids how to brush and floss, proper diet, and the importance of regular checkups.

If you would like more information regarding pediatric dentistry, schedule an appointment with the best team of Kids Dentists in Chicago, after all the health and well being of your kids and their teeth and gums depends on it.

When to Schedule an Appointment with a Pediatric Dentist

April 1st, 2014

Pediatric Dentistry in the Magnificent Mile District in Chicago is imperative when it comes to your kids teeth and gums, and if your child is six months or older and has never been to the dentist, it is time to schedule an appointment for a dental check up.

If your children have never been to the dentist, or if it is your first time taking your son or daughter to the dentist, it is important to remember that a pediatric dentist has been specially trained. According to Colgate, a good pediatric dentist will know what to look for when it comes to dental development. Problems can often occur quite early because of baby bottle decay, thumb sucking, and teething irritations.

When you schedule the first office visit with your Chicago Kids Dentist, your children’s teeth will be evaluated in order to determine the next steps necessary for the development of healthy teeth and gums.

During the exam, your pediatric dentist will review the health history of your kids and take x-rays that are necessary in order to determine what, if any, problems are present. The examination will also include a thorough examination of your son or daughters gums, palate, teeth, and tongue. Your Chicago Kids Dentist will also teach your children about healthy food choices, and most importantly, the correct way to brush and the right way to floss.

After your Childs first dental exam, your pediatric dentist will also give you the information you need to help your kids develop healthy teeth and gums including evaluations and assessments when it comes to bite, dental growth, and risk of tooth decay.

Pediatric dentists understand that some adults still have anxiety when it comes to the dentist, and unfortunately those fears can sometimes be passed on to your children. Because young kids do not have a real sense of time, do not tell your son or daughter about the visit to the, “Tooth Doctor,” until the day of their first check up.

Your pediatric dentist in Chicago has plenty of videos, books, and toys that will keep your kids occupied before the initial examination. Click here and show your kids what the dental office looks like in order to alleviate any fears that they may have.

Get your kids started on the right track, and schedule an appointment for your infants, toddlers, or adolescents today.

Talk to Your Chicago Kids Dentist about Pacifiers

March 15th, 2014

The debate continues over whether or not baby pacifiers are good for your kids. According to your Kids Dentist in the Magnificent Mile District in Chicago, there are few things to consider before you put that pacifier into your infants mouth.

The Academy of General Dentistry, or the AGD, says that there are pros and cons when it comes to baby pacifiers. The positives give babies a sense of comfort and can help reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Infants who sleep with pacifiers do not sleep as deeply as those who sleep without a pacifier in their mouth.

According to the AGD, pacifiers can affect the development and growth of the mouth, teeth, and gums. Over time, constant pacifier use can prevent mouth growth and change the shape of the roof of their mouth. Constant pacifier use can also cause tooth alignment problems.

Your 60611 Kids Dentist in Chicago recommends restricting the use of your pacifier if your baby needs a nap. Be sure to look for a baby pacifier that has ventilation holes as it permits proper airflow. This is also vital as it can prevent the pacifier from become lodged inside your infant or toddlers throat.

Always clean your pacifier before use and make sure that you do your best to stop pacifier use by the time your son or daughter turns two. According to your Kids Dentist in the Magnificent Mile District in Chicago, any developing bone or alignment problems are usually corrected about six months after pacifier use has ceased. Your Chicago Kids Dentist understands that is not always easy to break the pacifier habit, but there are some things you can do to wean your child:

  • White vinegar works well if you dip the pacifier before use
  • Pierce the pacifier or cut it, which will reduce the sucking satisfaction
  • Leave it behind

Remember to throw out your used pacifiers, as it is unsanitary to allow another child to save or use.

If you would like more information regarding your child's dental care, schedule a check up with your Kids 60611 Dentist in Chicago today.

Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums

February 15th, 2014

Healthy teeth and gums are much easier than they used to be, and thanks to the advancements from your Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist, your children can keep their teeth for the rest of their lives, as long as you and your kids practice good oral hygiene.

Start your kids early, as you will be creating good dental habits that will last for the rest of their lives. The minute the first tooth erupts, usually around the age of 6 months, wash with a damp cloth, or brush with a soft bristled baby toothbrush. Once your child reaches the age of two, they can begin brushing their own teeth with supervision.

Your Kids Dentist in Downtown Chicago can also paint your kids molars with dental sealants. Dental sealants prevent tooth decay and can last for quite some time. Ask your Chicago Miracle Mile Chicago Kids Dentist about dental sealants for your children.

Teaching your kids how to brush is important, but so is teaching them how often to brush. Brushing twice, and flossing once a day can greatly improve your kids teeth and gums.

Start your children off right with a healthy diet. Not only is it important for their overall physical health, but it is vital for oral health. Feed your kids whole foods, nuts, grains, dairy products, fish, and fruits and vegetables and their teeth and gums will thank you for it.

Once your kids start becoming involved in sports and recreational activities talk to your Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist about custom fitted mouth guards. Football, basketball, soccer, and wrestling are just a few of the contact sports that require custom fitted mouth guards. Other activities where you might want to consider mouth guards include all types of skating, water polo, hockey, baseball or any other activity that could hurt their mouth and gums if an accident should occur.

It is imperative that you schedule regular checkups for your kids. Teaching your sons and daughters about regular dental visits is vital if you want your children to learn good oral health habits. Contact your Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist today for a dental appointment for your kids today.

Teach Your Kids Good Oral Hygiene

February 1st, 2014

Maintaining your children’s dental health can be problematic, but not if you start your kids off on the right foot. Introducing your sons and daughters to good oral hygiene in the beginning will help create a good habit that will last for the rest of their lives.

According to your Chicago Kids Dentist, what you teach your kids about oral hygiene in the beginning will help them avoid complicated dental appointments later on. By instilling good oral health habits in your kids at an early age, you can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

When you teach your kids why oral hygiene is important, you can help to prevent those tearful dental checkups that usually end with a filling or two.

It is important that you watch what you say after you have been to the dentist. Avoid words like shot, pain, and drill. Your Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist has seen its fair share of terrified children who have listened to Aunt Jane’s horror stories about the Kids Dentist in Downtown Chicago. It is imperative that you create an environment at home that will set a positive example when it comes to oral hygiene and dental care. By doing this you can make your kids dental appointments stress free, and maybe even enjoyable.

Poor dental hygiene can lead to gingivitis and tooth decay, but it can also put your kids at risk when it comes to disease later on. Recent research has indicated that poor oral health can result in heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.

Your budget will notice dramatic affects if you do not schedule regular appointments with your Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist. Lack of care will cause cavities and could lead to more expensive procedures such as root canals.

Thanks to modern dental technology, some new treatments that your Kids Dentist in Downtown Chicago can use will help keep your children’s teeth protected. Fluoridated toothpastes, regular cleanings, and special sealants will go a long way in protecting your kid’s teeth.

It is never too early to begin a routine that will last for the rest of your kid’s lives. Start them off on the right foot, and schedule a check up with your Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist today.

Does Your Child Fear the Dentist?

January 15th, 2014

If your toddler screams at the top of his or her lungs every time you mention the word, “Kids Dentist,” it may be time to consider an informative search for a new Kids Downtown Chicago Dentist. Even if your other children are happy with your Chicago Kids Dentist, your 2-year old may be less than thrilled.

Finding a Pediatric Dentist in the Downtown Miracle Mile District in Chicago can be a daunting task, especially if you go online and do a search. If you don’t know what to look for, you could be bombarded with listings, but there are some things you can do to improve your search results.

Before you go online, ask family members, and don’t forget to solicit the advice of friends. Post an update on facebook and twitter and see what others have to say about their favorite Kids Dentist Downtown Miracle Mile District Chicago.

Instead of a search on Kids Dentist Chicago, focus on websites that are devoted to kids teeth and gums. She Knows is a wonderful online publication that gives great health advice for children and parents. The internet is a wonderful source for articles devoted to oral health and hygiene for kids.

Your pediatrician is another good source if you are on the hunt for a new Downtown Miracle Mile District Chicago Kids Dentist.

Before you schedule an appointment with a Kids Dentist in Chicago, ask questions. Make sure that your kids potential Pediatric Dentist in Chicago has had the two years of additional residency required to work with babies, toddlers, kids and teens and kids that have special needs.

The first time you visit your new Chicago Kids Dentist check out the environment. If the waiting room doesn’t have a toy in sight and CNN is on television, it could be a sign.

A good Pediatric Kids Dentist in Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago will have a waiting room that is fully equipped to handle idle hands and busy minds. Your new Kids Dentist should be kid friendly, and if it isn’t, it is time to go back to the drawing board.

During your child’s first visit, observe the interaction between the dentist and your son or daughter. Did the dentist answer any questions that you or your child had? Was everything explained in a way that everyone could understand? Glance around the room and see if the tools are the right size for your child’s mouth, and don’t forget to check out the demeanor of the dental assistants.

Make a trip to a Kids Dentist in Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago a fun adventure and schedule a check-up with Chicago Kids DDS. After just one visit, your kids are going to be thrilled the next time they find themselves in the Kids Chicago Dentists office.

Now’s the Perfect Time for a Kids Checkup

January 1st, 2014

Now that the holidays have come and gone, you can sit down and take stock of your kid’s health. That means scheduling doctor’s appointment with the family pediatrician and a trip to your Dentist in Magnificent Mile Downtown in Chicago.

Chances are you didn’t see everything your kids ate over the holidays. Aunt Sally and Uncle John didn’t waste any time passing out the homemade fudge and your best friend Jennifer couldn’t wait to share her award winning petit fours. Little hands were probably the first to snatch up the goodies that only come around once a year. However, it’s more than tummy aches that your kids will have to deal with. Over the next few weeks those cakes, cookies, pies and will have built up on your kids teeth making it harder to brush and floss. Schedule an appointment with. It’s bad enough when adults get peanut brittle stuck in their teeth, but it’s even worse for kids.

Go online or pick up the phone and schedule a check up for your kids. Your 12-year-old son may think his teeth are perfectly fine but if it’s been about 6 months since the last checkup, it’s time to call your Kids Dentist in Chicago.

Tooth decay can strike at any time, but especially after holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Halloween. Even if your tried to give your kids healthy treats by making everything yourself, those caramel apples that you made for Halloween and the pecan fudge that you surprised everyone with for Christmas is still loaded with sugar.

This year start the year off right with a New Year’s resolution list that includes dental appointments for the whole family starting with Chicago Kids. Those healthy oral hygiene habits that you show your kids now, will definitely pay off in the future.

Don’t let another month go by without scheduling an appointment with the Best Kids Dentist in downtown Chicago Kids Dentist.

Taking Care of Your Kids Teeth During the Holidays

December 15th, 2013

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most dangerous when it comes to your kids teeth. Most folks over-indulge from November to the end of December making promises to the mirror that it will be diet time come January, but your kids teeth are an entirely different story.

Cookies, candies, cakes, gingerbread, candy canes, peanut brittle, and all of those sweet treats could mean that you will be spending most of January with your Chicago 60611 Kids Dentist, but it does not have to be that way.

Even if you do try to limit the amount of sugar your children consume, it is tough during the holidays, and it can be just as difficult to monitor everything your kids put into their mouths, especially when Grandma and Aunt Susie are in town.

While sweets are fine in moderation your Magnificent Mile Kids Dentist will tell you that sugar has been linked to tooth decay, pediatric obesity, and even heart disease. Some research has indicated that it can also be a trigger for Type 2 diabetes in children. According to your Kids Dentist in Chicago, it will not take long for tooth decay to set in, and if your kid’s teeth are problematic as it is, you could be asking for trouble.

Sugar produces an over abundance of bacteria, which feeds on the sweet treats that are eaten. Those harmful acids start to form and will begin to wear down the enamel on your kids teeth. Once the enamel starts to weaken, your children will be a target for gingivitis and cavities.

Those holiday parties and family gatherings can be tough, but it is possible for you and the rest of the clan to set up some reasonable limits. If a buffet is on the menu for Christmas dinner, make sure that you show your kids what sweets are allowed and how many they can have. Include lots of fruits and veggies and tell your children that they have to eat the good stuff before they can eat any sweet treats.

Your Kids Dentist in the Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago also recommends that you carry a couple of travel-sized toothbrush kits in your bag and encourage your children to eat cookies, candies, cakes, and other treats along with a healthy meal. Carbs, fruits and veggies produce saliva, which helps to digest the food more quickly.

It is nearly impossible to avoid those delicious sweet treats during the holidays, but you can be ahead of the game if you schedule an appointment with the best Kids Dentist in Magnificent Mile, Chicago Kids DDS.

Can Gummy Vitamins Harm Teeth?

November 28th, 2013

gummy_bears

Gummy vitamins have become very popular in the last several years and even adults now have the option of getting essential vitamins and nutrients through a tasty gummy treat.  But while this can be a great way to get children to take their vitamins, gummy vitamins can harm your teeth.  Yes, they are enhanced with vitamins, but also often contain ingredients that can be found in traditional candy, such as glucose syrup (sugar).  Even sugar free gummies can also contain sticky gelatin and enamel eating citric acid.

Deciding whether or not to use gummy vitamins may come down to what you or your children are most likely to actually use as well as what your own dietary requirements.  If it’s difficult to encourage children to take a regular vitamin, or if you don’t like the taste yourself, then considering a gummy vitamin might not be all bad.  Simply make sure that teeth are brushed shortly after taking them so that these “almost candies” don’t sit on your teeth for long periods of time.

How Can I Protect My Child’s Tooth Enamel? Here Are 5 Sure-Fire Steps.

November 21st, 2013

Water to protect tooth enamel

 

The first line of protection for your child’s teeth is the enamel, which is the white, visible part of the tooth.  It’s also hardest substance in the human body, and yet it takes a lot of abuse.  Enamel can crack, chip and wear away.  What steps can you take to protect your child’s enamel?

Use a soft toothbrush.  While we may be tempted to use a toothbrush with hard bristles, thinking that a stiff bristle will be better and cleaning teeth, the best choice is one that provides more gentle care.  Additionally, children often use more force than needed when brushing their teeth.  This can be damaging to sensitive gum tissue and only serves to wear down precious enamel.

Limit starchy foods.  While we all understand that certain starchy foods like potato chips and french fries aren’t always the healthiest choices, we don’t often associate these foods as being bad for teeth.  Interestingly, starch turns to sugar so quickly that it raises blood glucose levels even faster than table sugar.  The sugar produced by starchy foods feeds bacteria that act as microscopic jack-hammers on your child’s enamel.

Don’t forget the cheese.  Cheese truly is a dental powerhouse.  Dairy neutralizes acid, contains calcium and a protein called casein which acts as an enamel protector.  Cheese is a great choice for an afterschool snack.

Drink water after meals.  Drinking water shortly after eating is an excellent way to quickly wash away some of the food that lingers on and between the teeth.  Even having children simply rinse their mouths with water after meals has been shown to be an effective way to protect enamel.

Avoid “whitening” toothpastes.  Toothpaste made specifically for children if often the best choice when deciding what they should brush with.  Not only are flavors often more kid friendly, but they generally don’t carry the harsh abrasives that many whitening toothpastes have.  These abrasives can act line sandpaper by wearing down the enamel on young teeth.  Remember, any toothpaste you choose should always carry the ADA’s seal of approval.