Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby’s First Steps to a Healthy Mouth: An AGD Press Release

Baby’s First Steps to a Healthy Mouth
February Is National Children's Dental Health Month
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CHICAGO (February 10, 2011) – Parents are a child’s first teachers in life and they play a significant role in maintaining their child’s overall health. In observance of National Children's Dental Health Month, theAcademy of General Dentistry (AGD) encourages parents to introduce good oral health habits to their children during infancy.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease, highlighting the need for thorough oral care and regular dental visits. The ideal time for a child to visit the dentist is six months after the child’s first teeth erupt. During this initial visit, a dentist will be able to examine the development of the child’s mouth.

“Parents are surprised when I tell them that their infants can develop tooth decay and cavities soon after their teeth first appear,” says AGD spokesperson Steven A. Ghareeb, DDS, FAGD. “We usually call this baby bottle tooth decay, which is caused by the long-term exposure to liquids containing sugars like milk, formula, and fruit juice.”

In addition to tooth decay, other dental problems, such as teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumb or pacifier sucking, often start early. The sooner the child visits a dentist, the better.

There are many things that parents can do with their child at home to maintain good oral health:
  • Clean your infant's gums with a clean, damp cloth twice a day.
  • Ask your dentist when you may begin to rub a tiny dab of toothpaste on your child’s gums. Doing so will help your child become accustomed to the flavor of toothpaste.
  • As soon as the first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Help a young child brush at night, which is the most important time to brush, due to lower salivary flow during sleep and higher susceptibility to cavities and plaque.
  • By approximately age 5, your child can learn to brush his or her teeth with proper parental instruction and supervision.

“The best way to teach a child how to brush is to lead by your good example,” says Dr. Ghareeb. “Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene.”
Children, like adults, should see the dentist every six months. Some dentists may schedule interim visits for every three months when the child is very young to build the child’s comfort and confidence levels or for treatment needs.
For more tips to ensure a child has good oral health, visit

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Aspirin and Cancer

Aspirin may have a role in fighting cancer, particularly colon cancer, according to Harvard's Men's Health Watch, October 2011.  Aspirin has long been know to relieve pain by inhibiting COX 1 and COX 2 enzymes.  These enzymes are associated with inflammation.  COX 2 causes fever  and pain, yet helps stomach acid healing.  While aspirin may adversely affect the stomach, COX 2 enzymes may aid in tumor growth.  Therefore, blocking the COX 2 enzymes may have benefits in slowing tumor growth and progression.  Before you embark on a regimen of aspirin, you should consult your physician.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gas, Guns and Gums

Samuel Colt, famous inventor of the Colt pistol, needed money to promote his new invention.  So he took to the road in the mid 1830's as "the celebrated Dr. Coult of New York, London and Calcutta" and performed nitrous oxide (laughing gas) demonstrations.  He was apparently very convincing and very successful.  Whether he immediately influenced any dentists is not known, but what is known is  after  that laughing gas and dentists became like peanut butter and jelly: a great pairing.  Laughing gas has a very mild anesthetic effect, more noticeably on the gums.  Since Colt used the money he made from his laughing gas demonstrations to promote his gun business, it was left to Horace Wells in 1844  to show how laughing gas could be in dentistry.  From gas to guns, and gas to gums.

Monday, October 24, 2011


As reported in Medical News Today, an article published in the online journal GUT on October 13, 2011 related that certain oral bacteria have been linked to pancreatic cancer; in particular, the bacteria Granulicatella adjacens.  In addition, two lower levels of  bacteria were noted in patients with chronic pancreatic inflammation (which can lead to cancer) compared to a healthy group of patients.  It is unclear if this the relationship between bacteria and pancreatic cancer is direct, or and effect of pancreatic cancer, but is believed, based on previous studies, that bacteria have an impact in the development of pancreatic diseases.  The presence of such bacteria in the oral flora could lead to methods or early detection of pancreatic cancer.  For the compete article as reported in Medical News Today, please visit:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hurricane Irene and Our Office

We were happy to find out there was no damage to our office due to Hurricane Irene.  The only issue was the contaminated water supply in Millburn and surrounding communities.  Fortunately for our patients and us, we had installed ADEC dental units which use self contained bottled water for use in the dental handpieces (drills)---they are not tied into the Millburn water supply. We use bottled water for patients to rinse with, and we have Purell to disinfect our hands after the permitted use of Millburn water for bathing and washing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Dose is the Poison

We live in a society which thinks if something is good for you, then more must be better.   Or is something is bad for you, then none of it can be good for you. Science has failed to make people recognize what Paracelsus, the sixteenth century philosopher, recognized, namely, “The dose makes the poison.”  This is perhaps the most valuable and critical point for any person to understand.  Consider some essentials, like water, oxygen and salt.  Clearly these are needed by the human body.  Yet last year a college student died in a stunt by drinking too much water.  It so severely diluted his electrolytes, he could not be revived in time before his heart stopped functioning.  Similarly, we know the tales of shipwrecked sailors who imbibed sea water only to need to drink more and more because the salt concentration prevents the alleviation of thirst, and ultimately causes death.  And Aquanauts like Jacques Cousteau learned long ago you can’t breath pure oxygen for sustained periods.  That is why helium was mixed in so it could dilute the oxygen but not contribute to the bends.
As dentists, we often hear of people refusing a fluoride treatment because it is a poison.  And a certain high doses this is true, just as salt, oxygen, and every other substance can be.  Again, to quote Paracelsus, “all things are poison, and nothing is without poison, the dose permits something not to be poisonous.” We health practioners have to make sure people understand the dose they receive is a safe dose for a given treatment.  People must evaluate the risk/reward ration with Paracelsus in mind before succumbing to knee jerk reactions to buzz words and hyperbole.  We as dentists must help people understand this important concept so they can accept treatment or face the consequences which could result from the lack of such treatment.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Snoring- A Sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Snoring: A sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Not all snorers have sleep apnea, but snoring can be an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the condition in which there is  insufficient oxygen flow to the lungs when sleeping. Many times this can be cause by an obstruction of the air flow into the lungs, frequently caused by enlarged tonsils or a tongue that blocks the air passage in the throat.  This can lead to the sounds we regard as snoring.  But more importantly, the snoring can indicate the obstruction is causing a lack of oxygen flow to the lungs. 

Many patients are unaware of snoring.  But if you have any of the following signs, you may indeed have OSA.  Do you have puffy, tired eyes? Do you wake up with a sore throat?  Do you feel sleepy during the day?  Have you ever been told you gasp for breath, or pause and stop breathing during the night?  Do you fall asleep while sitting, reading, watching TV or worse, driving?  These are all indicators of OSA and warrant an evaluation to determine the severity of your apnea. Typically, this is done through a sleep study at a hospital or clinic.

Treatments include surgery, CPAP-continuous positive air pressure via a mask tethered to an oxygen tank, or oral appliances.  Some of the more severe cases may preclude oral appliances, but for many, oral appliances are a comfortable way to breath easier.  Spouses agree!