Make Oral Health a Priority in Cancer Care

Undergoing treatment for cancer can be a scary and stressful ordeal, especially if surgery is required. With so many things to remember and arrangements to be made for before and after care, it's easy to forget important steps along the way. But researchers are now saying that one surprising step in pre-op care could literally be the difference between life and death, post operation.

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Group Asks Senate to ‘Brush Up’ on Oral Health

With 44 million senior citizens on some form of Medicare in the United States (and that number set to nearly double in the next 12 years), ensuring that Medicare provides adequate health care coverage for all beneficiaries is an absolute must. But, when it comes to dental care, some feel that Medicare is completely lacking. That’s because currently Medicare covers just 1 percent of dental care for seniors, requiring them to purchase additional coverage for anything beyond the most basic of care. But now, a group called Demand Medicare Dental is trying to change that, lobbying senators across America to add more vital dental coverage to Medicare - without sticking seniors with the bill.

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Why Do Women Suffer from TMJ Disorders More Often Than Men?

It’s not always easy being a woman - especially when it comes to your temporomandibular joint. That’s because, according to research, women ages 20 to 35 experience the most severe temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms of any age or gender group.

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Will a Sugar Tax Really Improve Oral Health in New York?


Earlier this year, the New York Times ran an op-ed about New York City's proposed sugar tax. The article's author spoke with former Mayor Bloomberg about his new Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health, which pairs him with former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Larry Summers to educate leaders around the globe on the importance of adding a sugar tax to help fight obesity. But is a sugar tax really a good way to fight obesity - or is it just more government overreach into our private lives?

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New Dental Bill Could Improve Access

On February 27, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Action for Dental Health Act (H.R.2422). Co-authored by the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Mike Simpson (R-ID), a dentist, the bill received overwhelming support from both parties, and passed with 387 yes votes.

The bill’s next stop is the Senate, where it is currently being sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI); Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA); and Tim Scott (R-SC). The bill aims to reauthorize initiatives that increase access to oral health care for people in underserved communities around the United States.

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Arthritis Could Be Cause of Jaw Pain

Arthritis is a disorder that causes painful inflammation of the joints. An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of arthritis, with 40 million of those cases right here in the United States. But despite its frequent occurrence, you may not realize that arthritis can sometimes be responsible for another painful joint condition: temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. That’s because TMD is a disorder of the joints too – the temporomandibular joints. Though TMD can be caused by many different things, many people don’t realize that arthritis could be the culprit.

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How to Get the Best Care Despite Dental Phobia

Odontophobia. It’s kind of a funny word, but it’s no laughing matter. Odontophobia is the fear of going to the dentist - a fear that an estimated 10 percent of the population have so severely that it keeps them from attending routine dental exams. The danger in this, of course, is that if you don’t go to the dentist, you could be missing some very harmful oral health problems, like cavities, periodontitis or abscesses, all of which, if left untreated, can easily worsen and wreak major havoc on your mouth.

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Having Many Children May Negatively Affect a Mother’s Teeth

Moms today have a lot on their plate. From juggling the family agenda to working and raising children, there’s a lot to be done, and sometimes it seems like not a whole lot of time to do it. Perhaps that’s why a new study in The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that the more children a woman has, the more teeth she may end up losing as an indirect result.

"The working theory is that between the toll pregnancy takes on the body and the amount of time mothers spend caring for everyone but themselves, they are more likely to let their oral health slide, and ultimately end up losing teeth," says Bellmore, New York, dentist Dr. Gary Lederman.

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Don’t Try This at Home: Five Dental Treatments to Leave to the Pros


We all take pride in accomplishing tasks ourselves, but there are some things in life that are best left in the hands of the professionals. Nowhere is this truer than in dentistry. That’s because while some treatments may look easy enough, they can leave you with permanent and irreversible damage to your teeth and gums – or leave you spending all your savings repairing the damage. While some DIY treatments are harmless, some are absolutely a bad idea. Here’s a list of five of the worst treatments to try at home.

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Healthy Habits to Help With TMD


For temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) sufferers, doing everyday things like speaking and chewing can be a real pain. The good news is that if you have TMD, neuromuscular dentistry can help. The bad news is that it’s not a quick fix, and you could still experience interim pain between treatments. If you’re being treated for TMD, hang in there. If you’re still experiencing pain from your TMD and don’t want to rely on painkillers to get you through, here are some natural treatments you can try at home that have been shown to lessen symptoms and reduce pain.

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New Study Links TMD to Migraine Headaches

For people who suffer from both migraines and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), the two conditions can seem so bad they’re related. Now, a new study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) has discovered they might be.

An estimated 12 percent of Americans suffer from debilitating migraine headaches - headaches that in addition to causing agonizing pain can cause everything from nausea to light sensitivity and dizziness. But while for some of those migraine sufferers, the pain stops there, the NIH has revealed that those who suffer from migraines are three times more likely to suffer from another debilitating condition: TMD.

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Surprising Symptoms of TMJ Disorders


If you’re one of the 10 million Americans suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD for short, you’re probably already aware of the many different types of pain TMD causes. In addition to the jaw pain that is synonymous with TMD (after all, the temporomandibular joint is in the jaw), you may experience pain in other areas of the head and body. But for the millions of estimated undiagnosed TMD patients, their pain may not be an obvious clue. That’s because as TMD sufferers are probably already aware, every case of TMD is different, and the pain isn’t always in the jaw.

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Should New York City Teachers Brush Their Students' Teeth?


When the New York City Board of Health recently announced a proposal to require preschool teachers to brush students’ teeth after meals and snacks, many people thought it was a brilliant idea - but others were left scratching their heads. How can we ask a teacher to provide this type of personal care to a student, especially when many teachers are already stretched for time, space and resources? But is this a good reason to not require this program? Here are the reasons why this proposal could - and should - work.

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ADA Takes Aim at Opioid Crisis

With growing cries from as high up as the White House for America to tackle the growing opioid addiction crisis, the American Dental Association announced it will now take a hardline approach to dentists prescribing the drugs. ADA President Dr. Joseph Crowley has asked that all 161,000 member-dentists "eliminate opioids ... if at all possible." While the move is a noble attempt to help reduce addiction and cull the sale of opioids from the secondary market, many are left wondering what it could mean for the comfort of patients undergoing painful procedures like pulled teeth, dental implants and root canals.

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Protect Teeth from These Internet Challenges


Even if you haven’t seen the videos yourself, you’ve probably heard about those trendy YouTube "challenge" videos that surge in popularity every few months. It started a few years ago with the ice bucket challenge, a noble campaign to help raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. The videos were fun and funny, and they did an excellent job achieving their goal, raising over $115 million for ALS research. Since then, many other video challenges have been issued, but most have not been for raising awareness - rather, they have been issued for internet fame. And therein lies the danger. When impressionable kids see a way to get quick fame and popularity, it can be a dangerous combination.

If you are considering attempting one of these challenges, or if you have children who may be, read up on how these seemingly innocent competitions could wreak havoc on your oral health.

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Five Foods to Avoid Before a Dental Appointment


With so many healthy dietary choices out there, most Americans have no reason to eat junk food if they can help it. But just because a food is good for you doesn’t mean it’s a good choice to eat before your dental or orthodontic appointment. If you’re wondering what to avoid before you hit the dental chair, check out this list of the top five offenders, and what makes them such a bad mix with your exam.

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Startling Oral Health Data from Ireland Raises Important Questions in America

According to a new study by Queen Mary University in London, parents in Ireland are failing to bring their children to the dentist at appropriate times. The study found that only 30 percent of parents brought their child to the dentist when the child was suffering from dental pain, while the rest visited either general practitioners to address the pain or the pharmacy for over-the-counter pain medication.

"The problem with this, obviously, is that a general practitioner isn’t a dentist and can’t fix a dental problem," says Bellmore, New York, dentist Dr. Gary Lederman. "Even if a general practitioner could diagnose a dental problem, they would still end up referring the patient to a dentist."

The problem is increasingly troubling because Ireland and the entire United Kingdom are facing major budget shortfalls due to cuts in their National Health Service (NHS) medical care program - shortfalls that have had a significant impact on the dental services the NHS provides U.K. residents.

"The NHS was in the news recently because they have charities that normally provide free dental care to children in Third World countries coming to the United Kingdom to work on children in England. That’s how short they are on funding. The program cannot even pay for routine dental care for its own participating children," says Lederman.

The other problem, which Lederman says is a far bigger issue, is that some parents are completely bypassing the general practitioner and heading straight to the pharmacy.

"Treating your child’s dental pain with over-the-counter pain medication instead of addressing the problem is just asking for trouble," says Lederman. "They might find temporary relief, but meanwhile the problem could be getting worse, which will only end up causing more pain and costing more money down the road."

While there appears to be no viable solutions on the horizon for the NHS budget crisis, Lederman says that domestically, parents can learn a thing or two from the United Kingdom situation.

"This should really show us just how vital it is to take care of our children’s teeth, and how urgent it is to be seen by a dentist if your child is complaining of discomfort," says Lederman. "We are fortunate here in America to have government programs like the NHS program, so if your child needs dental care and you are uninsured or cannot afford it, I absolutely encourage you to look into Medicaid programs in your community."

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Is It OK to Brush Teeth in the Shower?


You may or may not remember a very interesting interview with actress Jennifer Aniston that was published back in 2008, in which the actress claimed to be eco-friendly because she limited her showers to three minutes and during that time also brushed her teeth. That’s right. She brushes her teeth in the shower. For some of us, that admission came as a total shock - not because an actress would want to conserve water, but that someone would actually brush their teeth while they were showering. But for others, this admission was not remotely surprising, as this is common practice for some aren’t any data on just how many people brush while showering, but there are enough of them out there that it has become somewhat of a subject of debate between dentists and patients over the years.

When it comes to brushing your teeth in the shower, there are a few questions we need to ask ourselves when trying to determine if this is a good idea or not. First of all, why are you brushing your teeth in the shower? If you are doing so like Aniston to save water, this is not a good idea. Why? Because if you are in the shower, you are using a lot more water than you would if you brushed at the sink. Unless you're doing other tasks - like shampooing or scrubbing your back - at the same time, you're not really doing much good. And if you are standing directly under the water, you may be getting some of it in your mouth as you brush, causing your toothpaste to dilute or run down your face.

Bottom line: If you want to save water, take your shower as quickly as you can, and brush your teeth before or after with the faucet off while you brush.

Another reason people brush in the shower is to save time, or to multi-task. This is a good idea in theory, but it can have its drawbacks, too. First of all, where are you storing your toothbrush when you’re done? Is it staying in the shower? Do you share the shower with another person? If you have a hook in the shower for your brush, can you be 100 percent sure it's not getting sprayed with soap or oils from someone else when you’re not using it?

Furthermore, how clean is your shower? Do you regularly scrub the tiles for mold, mildew, hard water scale and soap scum? Leaving your brush in a space that is susceptible to any of those contaminants could mean you’re getting them in your toothbrush, too, and by proxy brushing that onto your teeth. Showers can be a hotbed of all kinds of nasty bacteria - not exactly something you want to be putting into your mouth. For this reason, if you truly must brush your teeth in the shower, it is highly recommended that your toothbrush be stored outside of the shower when not in use.

Another question you have to ask yourself about shower brushing is: Where does all that foam go when you’re done brushing? Do you spit out your toothpaste onto the floor of your shower? Do you step out of the shower to spit it into the sink? Many people would argue that the idea of stepping in their own used toothpaste during the shower is not a pleasant one.

Finally, there’s one more reason that brushing in the shower isn’t the best idea. Accuracy. Yes, you’ve probably been brushing your teeth for longer than you’ve been showering, so chances are you know what you’re doing by now. But how can you be sure you’ve gotten all the plaque and debris from your teeth if you’re not brushing in front of a mirror? It makes more sense to brush at your sink, so you can see exactly what you’re doing and make sure you’re not missing any particles that are on your teeth. Furthermore, you still need to floss, which is very difficult to do without a mirror. If you’re going to floss in the mirror, shouldn’t you just brush there too?

Ultimately, it's up to you when and where you brush your teeth, but brushing in the shower is definitely not recommended. The time it may save is negligible, and the water it may save is debatable. If you’re short on time or worried about your water consumption, set your alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning so you don’t have to rush, and make sure you and your family are shutting the faucet off while they are brushing in the sink. These little changes can make as big of, if not a bigger, impact than shower brushing, and they’re a lot better for you, too.

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Are Hi-Tech, ‘Smart’ Toothbrushes Really Worth It?

It seems like every product we use on a daily basis these days has a "smart" version either on the market or in the works. From app-enabled lawn sprinkler systems to doors you can lock from your phone, we are becoming an ever-increasing digital society. Naturally, dentistry is no exception.

You may have already heard of the new smart toothbrushes hitting the consumer marketplace every few months. Recently, the Apple Store launched its exclusive Colgate E1 toothbrush, which works hand in hand with its very own Apple-only app. The Colgate E1 claims to provide "mouth mapping technology," "real-time feedback" and even "brush coaching," among other things. With a $99 price tag, it’s definitely not cheap, but it's also pretty on-par with the average better-quality electric toothbrush. The question is: Is it worth the investment? A quick glance at the customer reviews on the Apple Store website aren’t very clear.

So far, out of 18 reviews, the brush gets a score of 3.5 out of 5 from consumers. Review headlines exclaim "Needs work" and "Nice Idea Poorly Executed." Overall it seems that, so far, consumers aren’t quite in love with the Colgate E1.

Another popular brush that has been around for over a year is the Grush brush for children. First introduced to the world via the ABC invention reality show "Shark Tank," Grush was designed with the goal of helping children clean all their teeth for an appropriate amount of time and with the appropriate amount of pressure. The brush connects to a smartphone app that plays a video game while your child brushes. The better he or she brushes, the higher the score. At the end of the game, parents can check the brushing data and see where their child missed the mark on brushing their teeth.

It also shows children as they brush where they need to apply a bit more pressure and what quadrant of the mouth they should be cleaning at any given time. The Grush brush isn’t quite as costly as the Colgate E1, but at $33 on Amazon, it’s still a lot of money for a kids’ toothbrush. Still, the Grush gets relatively good reviews from parents, earning 3.9 out of 5 stars. The chief complaint among Amazon reviewers is that the movements aren’t accurate. Bottom line, for $33, if you want to give the Grush a try, it can’t hurt. Kids love video games, and most kids love any excuse they can get to play on mom and dad’s smartphone for a few minutes.

As great as that sounds, unfortunately the Grush also has a high potential to backfire. Some parents have reported that their kids are more focused on the game than they are on brushing their teeth, and they’re not really paying attention to what they’re doing with the toothbrush while the game is running. The game is great if it teaches your child how to brush, but if he or she is focused solely on an app and not even looking at their teeth in the mirror while they brush, they’re not really going to learn as much about proper brush technique as they could if they were watching their own mouth.

Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to invest in a smart toothbrush. Yes, they can be pretty cool, and if you’re a gadget person and have to have the latest high-tech innovation the second it comes out, then these devices will probably be right up your alley. But for the rest of us, it’s probably better to hold off until the smart-brushing technology improves a bit, or just skip the smart brush trend altogether. If we can’t disconnect from our phone for the four minutes a day it takes to brush our teeth, when can we?

There are plenty of affordable electric toothbrushes available today that can get your teeth clean with the correct amount of pressure and for the correct amount of time, all without requiring you to use an app or slay a virtual dragon.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your toothbrush or your brushing technique, please feel free to give Dr. Lederman's office a call at 516-882-1764.

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This Candy Helps Fight Cavities

You’d be hard pressed to find a kid who doesn't love candy. But for many parents, it’s a love they’re hesitant to indulge. That’s because with so much sugar already in our diets, the last thing most kids need is more of it. Sugar in moderation is OK, but when sugar is overdone, it can cause a whole list of chronic problems including obesity, diabetes and cavities. Some studies have even linked it to hormone imbalances, premature aging and cancer.

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