Posts for: August, 2019
Sometimes it seems that appearances count for everything—especially in Hollywood. But just recently, Lonnie Chaviz, the 10-year-old actor who plays young Randall on the hit TV show This Is Us, delivered a powerful message about accepting differences in body image. And the whole issue was triggered by negative social media comments about his smile.
Lonnie has a noticeable diastema—that is, a gap between his two front teeth; this condition is commonly seen in children, but is less common in adults. There are plenty of celebrities who aren’t bothered by the excess space between their front teeth, such as Michael Strahan, Lauren Hutton and Vanessa Paradis. However, there are also many people who choose to close the gap for cosmetic or functional reasons.
Unfortunately, Lonnie had been on the receiving end of unkind comments about the appearance of his smile. But instead of getting angry, the young actor posted a thoughtful reply via Instagram video, in which he said: “I could get my gap fixed. Braces can fix this, but like, can you fix your heart, though?”
Lonnie is raising an important point: Making fun of how someone looks shows a terrible lack of compassion. Besides, each person’s smile is uniquely their own, and getting it “fixed” is a matter of personal choice. It’s true that in most circumstances, if the gap between the front teeth doesn’t shrink as you age and you decide you want to close it, orthodontic appliances like braces can do the job. Sometimes, a too-big gap can make it more difficult to eat and to pronounce some words. In other situations, it’s simply a question of aesthetics—some like it; others would prefer to live without it.
There’s a flip side to this issue as well. When teeth need to be replaced, many people opt to have their smile restored just the way it was, rather than in some “ideal” manner. That could mean that their dentures are specially fabricated with a space between the front teeth, or the crowns of their dental implants are spaced farther apart than they normally would be. For these folks, the “imperfection” is so much a part of their unique identity that changing it just seems wrong.
So if you’re satisfied with the way your smile looks, all you need to do is keep up with daily brushing and flossing, and come in for regular checkups and cleanings to keep it healthy and bright. If you’re unsatisfied, ask us how we could help make it better. And if you need tooth replacement, be sure to talk to us about all of your options—teeth that are regular and “Hollywood white;” teeth that are natural-looking, with minor variations in color and spacing; and teeth that look just like the smile you’ve always had.
Because when it comes to your smile, we couldn’t agree more with what Lonnie Chaviz said at the end of his video: “Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Do you. Be you. Believe in yourself.”
If you have questions about cosmetic dentistry, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Magic of Orthodontics.”
Generally, a fever is brought on by an infection from a virus or bacterial infection. While many times a parent’s first instinct is to worry when their child has a fever, it’s not necessarily a sign that something serious is taking place. That’s because a fever is the body’s normal, infection-fighting response to infection and in many cases is considered a good sign that the child’s body is trying to heal itself.
When to Visit Your Pediatrician
Fevers are one of the most common reasons parents seek medical care for their child. Most of the time, however, fevers require no treatment.
When a child has a fever, he may feel warm, appear flushed or sweat more than normal—these are all common signs. So, when does a child’s fever warrant a pediatrician’s attention?
You should call your pediatrician immediately if the child has a fever and one or more of the following:
- Exhibits very ill, lethargic, unresponsive or unusually fussy behavior
- Complains of a stiff neck, severe headache, sore throat, ear pain, unexplained rash, painful urination, difficulty breathing or frequent bouts of vomiting or diarrhea
- Has a seizure
- Is younger than 3 months and has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher
- Fever repeatedly rises above 104°F for a child of any age
- Child still feels ill after fever goes away
- Fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years or more than 3 days in a child 2 years of age and older
All children react differently to fevers. If your child appears uncomfortable, you can keep him relaxed with a fever-reducing medication until the fever subsides. Ask your pediatrician if you have questions about recommended dosage. Your child should also rest and drink plenty of fluid to stay hydrated. Popsicles are great options that kids can enjoy!
For many parents, fevers can be scary, particularly in infants. Remember, the fever itself is just the body’s natural response to an illness, and letting it run its course is typically the best way for the child to fight off the infection. Combined with a little TLC and a watchful eye, your child should be feeling normal and fever-free in no time.
Whenever you have a question or concern about your child’s health and well being, contact your Bellmore pediatrician for further instruction.
We’re all familiar with “naughty” and “nice” lists for food: “nice” items are beneficial or at least harmless; on the other hand, those on the “naughty” list are not and should be avoided. And processed sugar has had top billing on many people’s “naughty” list for some time now.
And for good reason: it’s linked to many physical ills including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. As a favorite food for oral bacteria that cause dental disease, sugar can also increase your risk for tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease.
Most people agree that reducing sugar in their diet is a great idea health-wise. But there’s one small problem: a great many of us like sugar—a lot. No matter how hard we try, it’s just plain difficult to avoid. Thanks perhaps to our ancient ancestors, we’re hard-wired to crave it.
But necessity is the mother of invention, which is why we’ve seen the development over the past half century of artificial sweeteners, alternatives to sugar that promise to satisfy people’s “sweet tooth” without the harmful health effects. When it comes to dental health, these substitute sweeteners won’t contribute to bacterial growth and thus can lower disease risk.
But are they safe? Yes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency has approved six types of artificial sweeteners for human consumption: acesulfame K, saccharin, aspartame, neotame, sucralose and rebaudioside A. According to the FDA any adverse effects caused by artificial sweeteners are limited to rare conditions like phenylketonuria, which prevents those with the disease from safely digesting aspartame.
So, unless you have such a condition, you can safely substitute whatever artificial sweetener you prefer for sugar. And if dental health is a particular concern, you might consider including xylitol. This alcohol-based sweetener may further deter tooth decay—bacteria can’t digest it, so their population numbers in the mouth may actually decrease. You’ll find xylitol used as a sweetener primarily in gums, candies and mints.
Reducing sugar consumption, couple with daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits, will certainly lower your risk of costly dental problems. Using a substitute sweetener might just help you do that.
If you would like more information on sweetener alternatives, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Artificial Sweeteners.”
Kids may complain about being restrained in the car, but car seats and booster seats save lives. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that using a car or booster seat in a passenger car reduces the risk of fatal injury 71 percent in children younger than 1 and 54 percent in toddlers ages 1 to 4. The statistics are just as impressive for older kids.
What type of seat should I use for my child?
Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the highest weight or height recommended by the manufacturer. In the past, children were routinely removed from rear-facing seats when they were 2, even if they didn't meet height or weight limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed their guidelines and now recommend that kids remain in the seats as long as possible.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers who have reached the maximum height or weight limits for rear-facing seats should use forward-facing car seats. Again, the seats should be used until the child reaches the maximum height and weight recommendations.
Once kids are too tall or heavy for car seats, they will transition to booster seats. Booster seats should be used until children are 4'9" tall and 8 to 12 years old. Older children can begin using seat belts at that point but should sit in the back seat when possible, particularly if they're younger than 13.
How can I tell if the car seat is installed correctly?
Both car and booster seats should be securely fashioned with a latch system or seat belt. If the seat moves back and forth freely, it's not installed correctly. Properly installed seats should move no more than an inch in any direction.
My child's legs seem too long for the car seat. What should I do?
You may wonder if your child should move up to the next seat or a booster seat if your child's feet touch the back of car seat. As long as your child is shorter than the maximum height for the seat, he or she should remain in the current seat.
Should my child use a secondhand car seat?
Passing a seat down to your next child can be a good idea if your children are only a few years apart in age. Before you reuse a seat for a younger child, make sure that it hasn't expired or been recalled since you bought it. Throw away car and booster seats after accidents, even minor ones. The seat may look perfectly fine but may be damaged internally.
Buying secondhand car seats online or at yard sales should be avoided. You won't necessarily know if the seat has been in an accident or if it has defective latches or restraints.
Using car seats consistently, whether you're going to the grocery store or taking a cross-country trip, can help your child avoid serious injuries due to traffic accidents. Talk to your child's pediatrician if you have questions about the seats.
In many parts of the country, summer is often a synonym for "blast furnace" and can be downright hot and miserable. If you find yourself in such a climate, it's imperative that you drink plenty of water to beat both the heat and heat-related injuries. Your teeth and gums are another reason to keep hydrated during those hot summer months.
Your body needs water to produce all that saliva swishing around in your mouth. When you have less water available in your system, the production of this important bodily fluid can go down—and this can increase your risk of dental disease. That's because saliva performs a number of tasks that enhance dental health. It helps rinse the mouth of excess food particles after eating that could become a prime food source for disease-causing bacteria. It also contains antibodies that serve as the first line of defense against harmful microorganisms entering through the mouth.
Perhaps saliva's most important role, though, is protecting and strengthening enamel, the teeth's outer "armor" against disease. Although the strongest substance in the body, enamel has one principal foe: oral acid. If the mouth's normally neutral pH becomes too acidic, the minerals in enamel begin to soften and dissolve. In response, saliva neutralizes acid and re-mineralizes softened enamel.
Without a healthy salivary flow protecting the mouth in these different ways, the teeth and gums are vulnerable to assault from bacteria and acid. As they gain the upper hand, the risk for tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease can skyrocket. Keeping yourself adequately hydrated ensures your body can produce an ample flow of saliva.
By the way, summer heat isn't the only cause for reduced saliva: Certain prescription medications may also interfere with its production. Chemotherapy and radiation, if targeting cancer near the head or neck, can damage salivary glands and impact flow as well.
If you have reduced saliva from medication you're taking, talk to your doctor about switching to an alternative prescription that doesn't affect saliva production. If you're undergoing cancer treatment, be extra vigilant about your oral hygiene practice and regular dental visits. And as with summer heat, be sure you're drinking plenty of water to help offset these other effects.
Even when it's hot, summertime should be a time for fun and relaxation. Don't let the heat ruin it—for your health or your smile.