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How Young Should Your Children Begin Brushing With Fluoride Toothpaste?

Do you have young children?  Do you know when to begin training them to brush their teeth?  How soon do you start them brushing with fluoride toothpaste?  What do you know about dental fluorosis?  I have been doing some reading about how early to start kids on the brushing with toothpaste routine and, specifically, about when to start them on fluoride toothpaste.

New American Dental Association Recommendations

As some of you may remember, when you were raising your  now adult children, that the ADA recommendation for a child’s teeth brushing routine was that kids under the age of two years should have their teeth brushed with water and then using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. But it seems now they are recommending fluoride toothpaste much earlier in life…recommending this as soon as the child get’s the first tooth!

Why The Change?

So, do you think this change in recommendation came about because the ADA wants to make your life more difficult?  Absolutely not!  They have found that approximately twenty-five percent of children are enrolling in kindergarten having or having had cavities prior to entering.   The ADA also reports that  more than 16 million kids in the United States have untreated tooth decay.  This causes millions of hours of work and school loss for the treatment by both parents and the students. They also report that pre-school aged children often report to dentists with multiple cavities, sometimes as many as 15.

They changed the recommendations in an attempt to help parents and caregivers have better information on how to avoid preschool cavities.

ADA Review

The American Dental Association reviewed some statistics that revealed that brushing with fluoride toothpaste significantly prevented decay and cavities in children.  They also found some evidence that ingesting pea-sized amounts of fluoride toothpaste caused a condition called “dental fluorosis”.  This is a condition which only develops in children under the age of 8 years and it develops as a result of too much fluoride ingestion.  When this condition occurs, it causes staining and changes in the color of the enamel of the tooth.

What Are the New Guidelines?

The new dental guidelines say that children under the age of 3 years should get just a “smear” of toothpaste.  Then, over the age of 3 years, they can graduate to a pea-sized amount.  Children should be encouraged to spit the toothpaste out of their mouths as soon as they are old enough to do so.  It is felt that these new guidelines  will prevent cavities and help to avoid the fluorosis problem.

The message here is clear:  start your children  brushing their teeth as early as possible and utilize fluoride toothpaste sparingly as directed by the new ADA guidelines.  Also start their routine dental visits as early as possible to avoid cavities and gum disease.  Your Long Island Periodontist can help to identify and treat cavities, gum disease and periodontal diseases in any member of your family. Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

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Could Immune System Components Be Used To Prevent Gum Disease?

We live in a world that places us at risk for so many more disease conditions that I feel sometimes like there is nothing we can do to take good care of ourselves and our families.  There is research going on all over the world that is looking into all phases of disease processes in attempts to find ways to prevent or repair the damage done by them.  Gum disease and periodontal disease are no exception.  Scientists are looking at the immune system for answers and potential helps in the prevention of the damage caused by undiagnosed and untreated oral infections.

Statistics Reveal Serious Need for Prevention

Since almost half (47.2 percent) of the adults in the United States over the age of 30 years and 70.1 percent of those adults over the age of 65 years of age suffer from periodontal disease in some form or stage, there is a serious need for some sort of prevention intervention at a deeper level than just when your dentist or dental professional identifies the presence of periodontal disease.  Of course, when your dental professional identifies the gum disease, it can be treated pretty much at any level or stage.  The treatments become more limited and much more invasive the more severe the gum disease present.  The most logical way to turn these statistics around would be to develop better ways to prevent the beginnings of or retard the progression of existing gum disease in those patients who suffer from it.

New Study Data

It is in this vane that new study data was recently released by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.   We know that damage can be prevented by appropriate oral care but what if you already have bacteria growing in your mouth?  Those bacteria can spread under the teeth, deep under the gum line and can cause inflammation which leads to the development and eventual progression of periodontal diseases.  Once the periodontal disease begins to progress, surgery is the most commonly used remedy. The researchers are looking at the immune system complement system for answers to this dilemma.  They have isolated a C3 protein that is showing great promise in deterring bone loss and inflammation in their mice and non human primate study participants.   They feel that a drug developed with this potential could be used to reduce gum diseases and bring those statistics back to a more reasonable zone.

While this research holds some real promise for future more effective treatments, we still have to live in these bodies and try to take the best care we can of them and this includes our mouths.  Your Long Island Periodontist can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  He can also help to develop the best oral care regimen to achieve and maintain good oral health.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online at and let him tell you how he can treat periodontal diseases with a laser instead of a scalpel.

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How Many of These Weird Signs of Health Troubles Are You Aware Of?

I recently read an article about  some weird signs that can be linked with health troubles.  The signs surprised me to say the least.  Some of them involved hearing, some involved the eyes, some involved the sense of smell and one even involved gum disease!  Come along with me while we briefly talk about a few of these weird signs.

Alzheimer’s Disease and the Sense of Smell

This article got my attention because it’s first topic was on checking your sense of smell for Alzheimer’s Disease.  We have more and more of our parents and even some spouses who suffer from Alzheimer’s and many are undiagnosed.  This is a scary disease for someone who has always had a fine, strong mind and who considers the decreased cognitive function that accompanies Alzheimer’s to be something they don’t want to deal with.  It seems that this dreaded disease is being found in younger and younger people.  The article stated that a  gradual decline in one’s ability to differentiate between various smells is normal for those over 70 years of age.   In their research, mice who were bred to produce high levels of amyloid precursor protein, which is involved in the development of Alzheimer’s, showed higher rates of nerve cell death in their noses when compared to normal mice.  So, if you notice your sense of smell decreasing suddenly or younger than age 70, talk this over with your doctor.

Bad Breath Linked with Erectile Dysfunction?

Yes, that age old “dragon breath” that your mom used to tell you about or that you may have noticed in others, might be linked to erectile dysfunction in males.  Turkish researchers studied men between the ages of 30 and 40 and found that those men having severe gum disease were more than three times more likely to have erection problems when compare to men having healthy gums.

Cognitive Decline Could be Seen in Your Eyes

If you don’t know much about Ophthalmology, then you don’t realize how important that dilated exam is to maintaining good health.  I know it’s inconvenient and, for some even uncomfortable, to have your eyes dilated but your doctor needs to see those blood vessels in the retina. In a study conducted by Duke researchers, participants as young as 38 who showed wider blood vessels in their eyes scored worse on IQ tests when compared to those who had smaller blood vessels.  Since the vessels in your eyes are similar in size, structure and function to those in your brain, your eyes could reveal a decline in the health of your brain years before the onset of dementia.

These are just a few of the weird signs that can signal potential health problems. I am sure you can see that keeping up with regular medical care is extremely important for your future good health.  Your Periodontist in Long Island can identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

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Are There Ways To Detect Gum Disease Earlier Before It Causes Permanent Damage?

Do you or does any member of your family suffer from gum disease or periodontitis?  Do you have friends or family who have had to utilize the services of an oral surgeon to repair damage caused by undiagnosed and untreated gum disease?  Do you know people who have a severely advanced form of periodontal disease who have lost teeth and can’t afford the dental services needed to replace them?  All of these situations could have been avoided had their gum disease been diagnosed earlier rather than later in the progression of the disease.  If you have ever wondered if there is a way that gum disease can be diagnosed in its earliest stages to prevent some of these maladies, then please read on.  I have some hopeful information on diagnosing gum disease earlier that could be of interest to you.

The Depth of the Problem

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but it is estimated that sixty five million adults in the United States suffer from periodontal or gum disease in one stage or another.  It seems there are two major categories of gum disease sufferers:  chronic, in which there is a slower progression of the disease; and aggressive, meaning that the infection establishes itself and progresses more quickly.  The problem with categorizing each patient into one of these camps is complicated because many of the symptoms and signs tend to overlap in the clinical exam by your dental professional.  This results in patients having the more serious stages of aggressive disease having suffered irreversible damage by the time they are diagnosed.

What Can Be Done?

Researchers, inspired by cancer biologists, are asking this question and Dr. Panos Papapanou, Director of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine Periodontics Division and his team of researchers are working on a method to classify periodontal disease.  They are basing this classification on gene expression of the affected gum tissue.  And, they are making some progress!

Their Discoveries

They have discovered that the colonization of specific bacteria seems to be associated with the more severe forms of the disease and seems to be a contributor to making it more pronounced.  There also seems to be a difference in the antibodies in the aggressive patients when compared to the chronic patients.

It is going to take a great deal more research before testing can be developed that can be done in your dentist’s office to identify the aggressive versus the chronic gum disease patients.  But, until that testing is available at the local dental professional level, your Periodontist in Long Island can help to identify and treat  the gum and periodontal disease in general in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

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Did You Know That Diabetes Is A Risk As Well As A Modifying Factor For Periodontitis?

Are you diabetic?  Do you have a family member who is diabetic?  Do you have friends who may be diabetic?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this article may be of interest to you.  I recently read an article on updates for diabetes and I learned something that I want to share with you about periodontitis and diabetics.

Association between diabetes and periodontitis

We have been hearing for several decades about how there seems to be an association between diabetes periodontitis.  The research of late seems to be primarily suggesting a bidirectional relationship between diabetes and periodontitis as each malady seems to influence the other.  Recent research is looking into this relationship more deeply and they have found data that suggest diabetes is a risk as well as a modifying factor in periodontitis!

The Findings

The available data suggests that people suffering from diabetes are at higher risk to have periodontitis and the periodontitis is more severe when the diabetes is not controlled or poorly controlled.  The research evidence continues to mount showing how periodontitis affects diabetes and complications that are associated with diabetes.  There is even some evidence that shows that moderate improvement in glycemic control can be achieved with periodontal therapy.  There is a complex interrelation between diabetes and periodontitis and each condition has the ability to influence the clinical features of the other.

Another Link Reported

There have been several epidemiological studies done which found that there is a link between metabolic syndrome and periodontal diseases.  While this research is still young, it is important to note here that metabolic syndrome can be a precursor to diabetes if left untreated.

The statistics show that almost fifty percent of adults over the age of 30 years in the United States have some degree of periodontal or gum disease and almost forty percent of those adults have moderate to severe periodontal disease.    These are some staggering and eye opening statistics in my opinion.  In these days of so much specialized medicine available to us, it seems beyond comprehension that these statistics are true.  In any event, we know that gum disease and periodontal diseases are far more prevalent that many of us want to admit.  It is vital that we establish and maintain a regular relationship and routine visits to the family dentist to take better care of our oral health.  Your Periodontist in Long Island can help to identify and treat gum disease in every member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.


Did You Know That Some Dentists Prescribe Custom-made Mouthguards For Their Athletic Patients? Part 2

Hi there!  I’m so glad you came back to finish our topic of custom-made mouth guards!  As you may recall, last week we talked about a recently published report in the May / June 2014 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, that reported that high school football players who were wearing over-the-counter types of mouth guards were actually at more than two times the risk to have mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions than those football players who were wearing custom-made and properly fitted mouth guards.  We talked about how the advanced design of football helmets really doesn’t protect from these mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions like we have been lead to believe.  This week, we are going to talk about some of the variables that come into play (pun intended) that contribute to mild traumatic brain injuries /concussions injuries and mouth guards.

Mouth Guards Primary Function

We all know that the primary function of the mouth guard is to protect the teeth, however, the mouth guard cannot totally protect against other injuries like those associated with mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions.  Research done in the past has theorized that mouth guards are able to decrease the risk of concussion because they help to absorb some of the shock as well as stabilize the head and neck when there is a direct hit to the jaw.

Mouth Guard Thickness

This is another variable has been proven to be a factor that contributes to a level of protection.  The average thickness of a custom-made mouth guard in the most recent study was 3.50 millimeters while the average thickness of most over-the-counter mouth guards was only 1.65 millimeters.  This greater thickness would provide more shock absorption for those direct jaw hits.

Custom-made Mouth Guards Last Longer

Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson, Eugene Antenucci, DDS, FAGD, stated that custom-made mouth guards can outlast the store bought ones and may well be less prone to damage by the athlete.  He pointed out that over-the-counter mouth guards are not fitted to the individual athlete’s mouth so they won’t be as comfortable.  When there is an issue with comfort, the athlete is more likely to chew the mouth guard which will reduce the thickness of it and thereby reduce its ability to protect.

Tips for the Care of Your Custom-made Mouth Guard

If you have gone to the expense of having your family dentist make a custom-made mouth guard, you certainly want to take care of your investment.  The investment is well worth the money spent in view of the increased protection you are giving to your athlete…so let’s talk about a few tips on caring for your custom-made mouth guard:

  • Brush your mouth guard with toothpaste and cool (not hot) water after each use.
  • Use the special storage case for your mouth guard when it is not in use.  It is designed to be a well-ventilated, plastic storage box for your mouth guard.
  • Don’t keep your mouth guard in direct sunlight or in a hot car.  Heat can melt the mouth guard and this will alter the way it fits in your mouth which will result in decreased protection.
  • When you visit your dentist for your twice a year regular cleanings, take your mouth guard along and let it be cleaned thoroughly.  Your dentist can check it for structural problems and how well it fits in your mouth.
  • And always remember to call your dentist whenever you have any concerns about the mouth guard.

Your Periodontist on Long Island can help fit your custom-made mouth guard as well as identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Does Poor Dental Health Increase Your Chances of Suffering From Depression?

In this age of unlimited research, there are so many issues that are coming to the forefront that affect your health, some perhaps if you’re like me, to which you have never really given much thought.  I have read some very interesting articles regarding research over the past year and the topics they have covered have embraced virtually every aspect of my life in one way or another.  In the area of dental health, I have discovered there is so much ongoing research into how the condition of our mouths can affect other parts of our bodies — both negatively and positively.  The topic of this article is how poor dental health can affect depression.

Depression:  The Ever-increasing diagnosis!

Have you looked around lately and noticed how many of the people you know suffer from sort or degree of depression?  I work in the medical field and I am amazed on a daily basis just how many of our patients present for medical services with a lengthy list of medications.  A high percentage of those people are taking a myriad of anti-depressant medications along with medications to manage or control other significant health problems.  It makes me wonder how many doctors look at conditions inside the mouths of their patients — the health of their oral tissues — to see if there is any correlation to depression and or any of the other health problems they are treating.

Someone did ask the question

Some researchers in Geelong, Australia did look into the correlation between oral health and depression and they gathered some very interesting data.  They studied the data of more than 10,000 patients and they found that, when they considered poor dental health and depression, the more dental conditions present in the patient, the greater or more severe was the depression!

For the study, the researchers utilized data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  The study showed that 61 percent of the participants who reported depression also reported the presence of oral pain over the past year.  More than half of the study participants reported that they considered their own oral health to be only in fair or even poor condition.

While there has not yet been extensive study into the context of poor dental health and its correlation to mental health, this study does provide a “snapshot” so to speak that will open the door for further investigation.  Perhaps, down the road, we will see some significant innovative therapies and even preventative interventions be born from this research.  In the meantime, please don’t neglect your mouth.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can evaluate, identify and treat any gum disease in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)-661-6633 and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Did You Know that Some Dentists Prescribe Custom-made Mouth Guards For Their Ahthletic Patients? Part 1

Do you have a son or a daughter involved in sports or athletics?  Are you concerned about injuries they may receive as a result of that involvement?  If so, then you will be interested in some information that I recently learned about some research into custom-made mouth guards for athletes.

Sports Related Concussion Protection Starts with Your Dentist

If you are concerned about protecting your loved ones from concussions that are related to sports activities, then your first stop should be a visit to your family dentist instead of your favorite sporting goods store.  According to a new study published in the May/June 2014 issue of General Dentistry, which is the peer-reviewed clinical journal for the Academy of General Dentistry, high school aged football players who were wearing store-bought or over-the-counter mouth guards were two times more likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injury or concussions than those athletes who wore custom-made and properly fitted mouth guards.  How is that for getting your attention?  Contrary to popular opinion, many consumers believe that the advanced helmet design is able to provide adequate protection but the data from this and other research studies belie this.  The research shows that, when compared to the over-the-counter varieties, the custom-made and properly fitted mouth guards are considered to be vital to the safety of the player.

The Study

This study involved 412 players from six different high school teams.  Three of the teams, 220 athletes, were randomly assigned to wear custom-made mouth guards and the other three teams, 192 athletes, wore the standard over-the-counter mouth guards of their choice.  The study allowed for all of the players to wear the same style of helmet.  The resulting data revealed that 8.3 of the study participants wearing the over-the-counter mouth guards suffered mild traumatic brain injury / concussion types of injuries while the group wearing the custom-made mouth guards suffered on 3.6 percent of these same injuries.

There are a number of variables that come into play when you consider the contributing factors of mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions and these variables are ever so important.  In part 2 of this mini-series, we will discuss some of those variables as well as some tips for caring for those custom-made mouth guards.

In the meantime, it is important to establish with a dentist and get every member of your family evaluated as early in life as possible.  Routine dental care is vital to keeping everyone’s oral tissues healthy and strong.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat any gum disease that may be present in any member of your family.  Call r. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Do You Know How Good Oral Health Can Help Athletes Achieve Victory?

Have you ever wondered how athletes like Olympians achieve their victories?  Have you ever wondered how they get so healthy and what they do the stay that way?  Unless you are an athlete and have had to follow strict activity and diet regimens, then you probably don’t know how hard they have to work to get and maintain those amazing physical bodies!  I recently read an article about how good oral health can help ahtletes perform better.

Why the Concern Over Oral Health?

Recently some experts spoke at the Oral Health and Performance in Sport conference held in London.  They felt that good oral health can improve performances in sports as oral health issues can affect the athletes ability to train and perform at his or her highest levels.  They feel that this is especially important since many sporting victories boil down to very small margins. 

How Is This So?

So, are you wondering how oral health issues are able to play such pivotal roles in sports achievement?  Dentists and doctors in Britain are looking into steps they can develop that will improve the oral health of their athletes.  Dr. Mike Loosemore, from the English Institute of Sport, has history of working with the GB boxing team for quite some time.  He reports noticing some impacts of oral health issues that affect training and performance.  This has caused the team to incorporate regular dental evaluations into their protocol and, accordingly, they have noted improvements!

Some Recent Research

The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published research data that showed as much as twenty percent of the athletes reported that oral health issues actually disturbed their training routines in the run-up to the London Olympic games.  These dentists provided the following in explanation for these percentages:

  • Swollen gums and tooth pain have the potential to interrupt training as well as interfere with sleep.
  • Gum disease has been shown in research studies to elevate the risk of serious health problems which include type 2 diabetes.
  • Poor oral health can and does have an impact on preparatory training.

Your Takeway

The most important thing for those of us who aren’t elite athletes to remember is simply this:  the old saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies here.  Achieving good oral health is a goal that we can all have, regardless of our athletic abilities.  To do this, it is vital that you maintain regular dental evaluations so that oral health issues can be identified sooner rather than later and treated for prevent serious health issues down the road.  Your Long Island Periodontist can help.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.


How Many Ways Do You Know to Keep Your Natural Teeth? Part 3

Welcome back! Last  couple of weeks we have been talking about a number of ways to keep your natural  teeth. As you may recall, we previously talked about the fact that keeping your natural teeth is by far more desirable in both appearance and performance than some of the other dental alternatives.  I think we all agree that, though dental technology has come far over the past few decades, the goal of keeping the teeth you were born with is always the best goal. Let’s finish this article series and talk about a few more ways to prevent gum disease and keep your natural teeth.

Put on Your Dental Armor

I know you have seen athletes like football players, basketball players, soccer players, etc who wear a mouth guard.  It looks pretty silly and uncomfortable doesn’t it!  Well, let me tell you that it may  not look terribly fashionable but a rubber mouth guard is quite functional!  If you have needed dental procedures in the recent past, then you are well aware of the cost of them.  Since they are expensive and, since many people do not have dental insurance, you would likely want to avoid the need for them.  Protecting your mouth from most injuries by using this inexpensive piece of rubber will definitely accomplish this goal!

Prevention of Oral Cancers

Did you know that the rates of oral cancer occurrance has gone up annually over the past five years?  This information comes from the Oral Cancer Foundation and is said to kill one person every hour.  I have heard that this has been associated with tobacco use but the Oral Cancer Foundation feels this is not the entire picture.  Their statistics show that about seventy-five percent of those diagnosed with oral cancer are using various forms of tobacco…but what about the other twenty-five percent?  They suggest some other possible causes as being the human papilloma virus (HPV) being transmitted to a person’s mouth via the oral sex route, or another cause could be excessive sun exposure, or still another cause could be not eating enough fruits and veggies.

Bleaching Is Not Always Your Friend

Are you among the millions of people around the world who bleach their teeth to get and maintain that brilliant, dazzling smile?  While this activity might be quite in fashion, you need to realize that a bright white smile doesn’t always mean your mouth is healthy.  We also have to realize that, as we continue to celebrate birthdays, we are going to have whiter hair and darker teeth — that’s just how it is as we age.  As the saying goes, everything in moderate works well.  It is OK to want that youthful bright white smile, but keep it sensible and don’t go overboard.

 The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the bottom line to all of these tips that I have discussed over the past three weeks comes down to one vital tip.  Routine checkups and maintanence of your oral health can identify oral health issues before they get serious.  Your Periodontist in Long Island can help to identify and treat these oral issues for any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at and let him tell you about treating gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.