Sweet Tips for Halloween Success with Your Kids


Halloween is a favorite holiday of most kids, but for their dentists, it’s a very different story! Here are some tips for you and your kids to enjoy the holiday and still keep those teeth healthy!


Make the holiday about more than just candy


There are amazing Halloween crafts that you can do with your kids- check out marthastewart.com or kaboose.com for some great ideas! Trick or Treat for Unicef has been around for many years and is a great way to teach your kids about giving to those who are in need all over the world. Check out http://youth.unicefusa.org/ for more information.


Help Make Good Choices


Talk about eating healthy snacks and why they are better choices. Carrots, cheese and apples are all great teeth-friendly snack options- have them cut up and ready for your kids. Talk about how Halloween is once a year and it is a chance to indulge, but responsibly! Chocolate is a much better option than sticky, chewy treats. And of course, practice what you preach- kids will definitely learn more by seeing you following your own advice!




I am a big believer that if you forbid your kids from having sweets, they will only want them more: think Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One approach that works is allowing a bit more indulgence on the holiday itself, and rationing out one or two pieces of candy per day for the next week. Then throw out or give away the leftovers. Some dentists will even have a “Halloween candy buy back” program where they will buy what’s left in exchange for cash! Of course, please make sure that your kids keep up with their regular oral hygiene routine even on Halloween!


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Metro Minis Recap

Last week I did a workshop at the Metro Minis store on the Upper East Side where I talked to parents about dental care for kids and showed the younger audience members how to brush properly by having them brush a demo monkey’s teeth. I had a great time meeting the parents, kids, and Metro Minis staff and look forward to getting involved in future workshops. If you missed the event, here is a quick excerpt from the Metro Minis blog about the event (go directly to their blog for the full post):


Best tips for your little one:


1) Start early when the first tooth comes in, begin to either wipe off the gums and new teeth with a dental wipe, or use a finger brush or baby tooth brush.


2) When you have a toddler or older, have them drink some water after a snack to help remove the sugars in the mouth.


3) Beware of the ‘stickier’ snacks as they sit on the teeth much longer. For example, raisins, lollipops, and hard or chewy candy. So brush more diligently after snacks like this and the sooner the better.




Metro Minis also posted a video excerpt from my talk at the event which you can see below.


Talking Pediatric Dental Care at Metro Minis on the UES 9/22 @ Noon

I am pleased to announce that next week I will be visiting Metro Minis, a children’s store on the Upper East Side to talk to parents about dental care for newborns through preschoolers, give tips on making dental care fun for kids and answering questions. Metro Minis carries a variety of baby carriers, eco-friendly children’s products and offers educational workshops. Since next week is their Anniversary Week, they are also doing a raffle giveaway to win Sigg Bottles so stop by to learn more about keeping your kids’ teeth healthy and enter to win their giveaway!


Event Information:


WHERE: Metro Minis
LOCATION: 821 Park Ave @75th Street
TIME: 12pm
RSVP: Click here to let Metro Minis know you’re coming!


6 Books to Get Your Kids Excited About Visiting the Dentist

Books can be a big help in helping to prepare your child for what happens at the Dental Office. Below is a short list of some of my favorite books to get for your kids to help make that first (or second or third!) visit to the dentist a little easier on your kid (and you)!


My Dentist, My Friend by P.K. Halliman


This is a really sweet book in rhyme that does not talk about any of the potential negatives about going to the dentist. It is a step-by-step guide on how a visit to the dentist will be and is very reassuring to kids. I suggest even role playing what you see in the book with your kid to make them feel comfortable about their future visit.



How Many Teeth? by Paul Showers


This book has been a constant on bookshelves for over 30 years (characters and certain stories updated since then) and gives kids an introduction to how many teeth they will have during the various stages of their life. It talks about what happens when little teeth fall out and big teeth grow in. Kids get excited about their “big” teeth coming out because it talks about how that means they are growing up and as we know, all kids love saying “I’m a big kid now.” ( Thank you to Toys ‘R Us for getting that song stuck in my head now).


The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums by Edward Miller


This book is especially good for older kids! It has fantastic illustrations and great dental advice about taking good care of your teeth. It talks about everything from what to do if you lose a tooth to what your kid should expect when visiting his/her pediatric dentist. It really makes dental hygiene fun experience for your kids!



Elmo Visits the Dentist


If your kids like Elmo and you’re having trouble getting them to sit still every time you utter the word “dentist,” then this is a good book for you to get. Elmo accompanies the “big bad wolf” to the dentist, where the dental assistant explains what is going to happen on the visit. The book is well written, has fun illustrations and is a great way to prepare your kid for their first visit to the dentist.


Dr. DeSoto and Dr. DeSoto Goes to Africa by William Steig


These books take a look at the dental team of Doctor DeSoto and his wife who is his dental assistant. They are two mice who run a dental practice and care for various animals (except for cats and other “dangerous” animals). Not only does it go through the process of a dental visit but it also lets your kid read about the different animals that go in to the DeSoto’s office for a visit. The great thing about these books is that they are quite witty and a joy to read for both kids and adults.



Open Wide: Tooth School Inside by Laurie Keller


This book takes 32 students (8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars and 12 molars) to a class about how to care for your teeth and through some trivia questions. Dr. Flossman, the teacher, churns out fun facts about tooth care throughout the book. One fun sequence in the book is when they eat lunch during recess and the 2 quizzes that are given at the end of the book. The illustrations are beautiful and it is another book (along with the Dr. DeSoto books) that is a fun read for both kids and adults.


Use Sweeteners to Get Your Kid to Drink H20? Stop this Bad Habit

I was very concerned when I read a question from a reader on the CafeMom forum discussion saying that she flavors the water she gives her 2 year old daughter with Crystal Light to get her to drink more water. I don’t advocate using it because products like Crystal Light contain artificial sweetener, which may not be very healthy for young kids. Parents all over the world give their kids juices either because they think they are healthy or because they have given up with trying to give plain water.


Of course getting your child to drink more water can sometimes be a challenge and I am in the midst of that very battle myself with my 1 year old. Juices can give the impression of being “healthy” for kids, but in reality, most juices contain a lot of sugar and very little nutritional benefit. I really believe that introducing water early on is very important. When I posed the question to a pediatrician friend about how to get my son to drink more water, he wisely replied “Don’t worry- he will drink when he’s thirsty. When he wants to drink, be sure to give him water.”


I am at the point where I am transitioning away from bottles, and I find that my son knows what he’s getting to drink based on what sippy cup we are using. I persist with primarily giving him water, but I make sure to use different cups for different drinks. When I occasionally give him watered-down juice (3 parts water to 1 part juice) I am careful not to use the same cup that I use for plain water. If you feel you absolutely need to use a flavoring, gradually add less and less over time to the cup until you are only giving your child water. When you are dealing with an extreme situation like preventing dehydration, these rules are more relaxed and use your discretion (and your pediatrician’s advice) about using products like Pedialyte.


What do you do to get your kids to drink more water? Feel free to join in on the conversation in the comments section. I’ll respond and let you know my thoughts on your tips.


Electric Toothbrushes – Good or Bad? [Sonicare Giveaway]

One CafeMom reader asked me if electric toothbrushes are better than the good old traditional ones. She specifically asked if she should get a Sonicare for her child and I figured I would share my thoughts with my readers.


I am not necessarily in favor or opposed to using electronic toothbrushes but I have found that they are a great way to get your kids excited about brushing their teeth. So if you have been thinking about getting one for your child, go for it! However, it is important that kids still learn how to brush with a manual toothbrush. Teaching your kids to brush using a small circular motion mimics what electric toothbrushes do, and allows them to clean efficiently and well. I often tell parents to be sure to switch between manual and electric toothbrushes so that their kids learn the proper way to brush their teeth. And remember that regardless of what type of toothbrush your child uses, we always suggest brushing for 2 minutes twice a day!


Sonicare For Kids is a great new product because it gradually teaches kids how to brush and for how long. These brushes are an investment, so I have decided to run a giveaway where you can enter for a chance to win one! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment either on Facebook or here on the blog with your best tip to other parents on how to get your kid excited about brushing their teeth.


We will be announcing the winner mid September on our blog, Twitter and Facebook page.


**UPDATE: Congratulations to Lisa Vaccarella who is the winner of the Sonicare Kids Toothbrush Giveaway. Thanks to everyone who participated and we look forward to seeing you on our blog again!


Forum Discussion about Pediatric Dentistry at CafeMom.com!

CafeMom asked me to take part in their “Ask the Expert” series and answer reader questions about taking care of your kids’ dental health. CafeMom is an online community where millions of moms meet each day to talk, share advice, make new friends and play games. Starting Monday, July 19th I will be visiting the forum all week to address any questions you may have and look forward to seeing you there.


Visit the CafeMom Ask the Expert: Pediatric Dentist Ruby Gelman page to get in on the fun!



In the future, please also remember that you can always ask me questions here on the blog, on our Facebook page and/or on our Twitter page. I always love seeing your comments and helping you keep your childs’ teeth healthy and clean.

Top 3 Snacks That Won’t Make Your Kids’ Dentist Frown

1. Fruits and Veggies


While fruits have natural sugars, they tend to contain a lot of water, and they don’t often get stuck in teeth making them a no brainer in the sweet-treat department. Of course any sweets should be in moderation, but I have less concern about fruits such as apples, blueberries and watermelon which are packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants. Avoid dried fruits that tend to be sticky. So many parents think that raisins are a perfect snack but be careful- it’s always best to give your child some water to drink after any sticky, chewy treats. Vegetables are generally very healthy snacks for teeth. Veggies are not sticky, and they are crunchy and satisfying at the same time. The crunchiness also helps to produce more saliva which helps to neutralizes cavity-causing bacteria present in the mouth.

Two kids eating kiwis and oranges


2. Cheese


Cheese is a great snack to give your kids to munch on between meals. It is naturally lower in carbohydrates and high in calcium. Cheese will not raise the pH of the saliva greatly, which in turn will keep cavities at bay. There are some studies that are showing that the additional calcium could help to reverse small areas of decay.


3. Chocolate (yes, chocolate!!!)


In moderation of, course! In the last several years, researchers have found that chocolate may actually have multiple health and dental benefits. Studies have shown that parts of the cocoa bean may actually have anti-cavity causing properties. Chocolate tends to melt easily, so there is very little left behind to promote tooth decay. Generally speaking, chocolate eaten in moderation is less harmful than sticky, sweet treats. Because of the the high amounts of fat and sugar in chocolate,  it’s important to teach your kids to eat it in moderation, and remember to rinse with water after eating any sweet treat especially if toothbrushing won’t happen for a while.


At those times when your kids are demanding a sweet treat and nothing else seems to appeal to them, reaching for a piece a of chocolate is very good bet.

How to Brush Your Childs’ Teeth Properly

Circular motion, back and forth, up and down? Which is the right way to brush your child’s teeth properly? It is actually a very common question that I get asked by my patients’ parents. I decided to write a post on this topic to help all the parents wondering if they are doing this daily routine correctly.


You want to start by lightly placing the toothbrush in your child’s mouth at a 90 degree angle and rotate the toothbrush in a circular motion over each tooth. The circular motion allows you to cover the entire tooth as well as the gum areas. There is no correct place to start but parents typically find it is easier to brush the front top and bottom first, then the back, followed by the surfaces of the teeth. Do whatever is comfortable for you.


Once you have finished brushing the teeth and gums, go ahead and brush the top of your childs’ mouth and tongue to prevent bacteria build up which causes bad breath. Make sure to only use fluoride toothpaste if your child is able to spit it out on their own after brushing. (Take a look at our recent article on 5 Questions to Ask Your Pediatric Dentist for more information on when to use fluoride toothpaste).


Ideally, we want kids to be brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, but I know this isn’t always realistic! When kids are around the 4 year mark, you can start helping them to brush more independently. You may want to allow your 4 year old child to brush on his/her own in the morning and let the evening brushing be the more interactive, supervised brushing of the day. A two minute timer is a great way for kids to learn how long to brush for- it may take some time, but keep up with it! Remember that it’s always best to teach by example. If your kids see you brushing they will be encouraged to do the same.

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Pediatric Dentist

 It is important to start thinking about your child’s oral health at a young age to keep their teeth clean and healthy. A pediatric dentist will be a great source for answering any questions you may have before and after you have had your first visit. Here are 5 questions parents often ask that will be helpful in taking care of your child’s teeth.

1. At what age should I bring my child to a pediatric dentist for a first visit?


Parents should bring their child for a first visit when a first tooth appears or when they reach 1 year. Some pediatric dentists suggest 3 years old which is perfectly acceptable as long as you practice good dental care at home. If there is anything that either you or your Pediatrician are concerned about, schedule a dental visit right away.

2. What is the proper way to clean my baby’s teeth?


You can use a wet washcloth, dental wipes or a soft-bristled childs’ toothbrush with a small head to clean your baby’s teeth. This should be done once a day preferably before bedtime to remove any plaque that accumulates and prevent tooth decay.

Tip: I recommend trying tooth tissues which are dental wipes that can be used for babies and toddlers. Tooth tissues were invented by two dentists for their kids and are formulated with xylitol, are 99% natural, as well as fluoride and paraben-free. I use a combination of all the above methods with my own 9 month old son.

3.  At what age can I start brushing my child’s teeth with toothpaste?


You can start introducing toothpaste into your childs’ oral hygiene when a first tooth appears. Most pediatric dentists would recommend using a non-fluoride toothpaste until your child has mastered spitting out the toothpaste in the sink, often around 3 ½ to 4. As they work on this, you can slowly start introducing fluoride toothpaste into your dental care routine. If you live in New York City, your child will already receive proper levels of fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay, by drinking even a small amount of tap water daily. If you live elsewhere, check to see if your tap water is fluoridated. If not you may consider fluoride supplements.

4.  What should I expect on a first visit?


Very often, we allow small children to sit with a parent in the dental chair for the first visit- this often makes the first appointment a lot less stressful for the child. Typically a pediatric dentist will perform a head and neck exam and evaluate the general health of your child’s teeth and gums. The dentist will discuss your child’s diet, home dental care routine, and any health issues or family dental/health issues that may be pertinent. Your child’s teeth will be cleaned and a fluoride treatment will be discussed.

5.  How often should I bring my child in for a checkup?


We generally recommend that patients return every 6 months for routine checkups.

To find a pediatric dentist in your area, you can visit the American Dental Association.

If you are in the NYC area and would like to find out more information, feel free to check out my website at www.rubygelman.com or contact me at info@rubygelman.com or call 212-682-9555 for an appointment. Our practice is located at 155 East 38th Street, Suite 2D in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan.


Dr. Gelman lives in midtown Manhattan with her husband Shimon Shkury and her son Ariel Moshe who was born in July 2009. Dr. Gelman is dedicated to providing pediatric dental care in a warm, nurturing environment. She looks forward to welcoming you to her practice!