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Oral Health, Appearance Plays Critical Part in Student Confidence

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Orthodontist Dr. Neil Capolongo of Kids Are Great Dental in Mount Kisco.

For families dealing with the end of summer and the often-hectic preparation for a new school year, checking up on a child’s oral health isn’t always associated with the back-to-school rush.

Of course, most people are aware of the importance of taking care of one’s teeth at any age, but an increasing number of parents place their children’s appearance as a top priority.

There’s good reason for that, said Mount Kisco orthodontist Dr. Neil Capolongo, who established his practice, Kids are Great Dental, with his wife about 30 years ago. A trip to the orthodontist used to be scheduled to primarily ensure proper functionality and any related health issues that would accompany challenges such as an overbite, underbite or to close spaces between teeth, he said.

Today it’s evenly split between that and how a youngster looks, which impacts self-esteem and personal confidence.

“In my world, what’s so important is clearly the aesthetics of it, especially in today’s day and age with social media and so much negativity and bullying going on. You want to give the kids really the best chance to put their foot forward and be comfortable with themselves,” Capolongo said.

That isn’t the only aspect of his practice that has changed over the past few decades. Today, the approach is to be more proactive by bringing in children as young as seven, eight or nine years old to try and head off potential problems rather than waiting and running into greater trouble later on, Capolongo said.

Many local parents also have greater awareness of potential dental issues and try to prevent those problems from happening.

“Today, it’s almost a rite of passage,” he said. “Kids come in, parents come in, they don’t ask why a lot of times. They just ask when.”

Another change today are the aligners that are available that can sometimes be used instead of braces. The aligners serve more than just for aesthetic purposes, particularly with children, Capolongo said.

“The benefit of it is clearly aesthetic, but also the cleanliness of your teeth,” he said. “You can keep your teeth a lot cleaner because they’re able to take their aligners out when they brush their teeth.”

As much as there have been advances in dentistry to help patients look and feel their best, the basics of good oral health hasn’t changed all that much over the past few generations, Capolongo said. Brushing, flossing, staying away from too many sweets and regular visits to the dentist is still an effective plan

What also hasn’t changed is a person’s appearance and well-being can be helped by having good teeth.

“Teeth are just an important part of how you represent yourself, how you present yourself,” Capolongo said.

Kids are Great Dental, which is now a division of CareMount Dental, is located at 241 Lexington Ave. in Mount Kisco. They can be reached at 914-242-2000.




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