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Top Causes Of Childhood Tooth Decay

42 PERCENT OF CHILDREN will get at least one cavity between ages 2 and 11, and tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. Why is it so common, and what can we as parents do to keep our children’s teeth healthy? Well, before we can fight childhood tooth decay, we have to understand what causes it.

Sippy Cups And Baby Bottle Rot

One of the biggest dangers to a child’s oral health comes from sugary drinks and the way children consume them. Whether the drink is soda, fruit juice, or even milk, the sugars in the drink will feed your child’s oral bacteria and increase the risk of decay. Sugars in drinks become particularly dangerous if a child has access to a bottle or sippy cup that they can keep drinking from over a long period of time, because their teeth are constantly exposed to more sugar.

This is such a common problem that it has actually earned its own name: baby bottle tooth decay, or bottle rot. Now, we aren’t suggesting a total ban on all sugary drinks, but the less time your child’s teeth are exposed to them, the better. Sugary drinks are much safer for teeth when consumed quickly at mealtimes. If a sippy cup or bottle is the only thing that helps your child fall asleep at naptime and bedtime, then the healthiest option for their teeth would be to fill it with water.

Sugary Snacks And Candy

Sugar doesn’t have to be in liquid form to cause trouble for the teeth, which brings us to our next oral health danger for children: snacks. Everything from candy to healthier options like cheese and crackers contains sugar. Every time we eat, our saliva needs at least half an hour to wash away all the remnants of the food, but when children have access to snacks all the time, their mouths never have a chance to recover.

So just like with sugary drinks, it’s best to consume sugary foods during mealtimes instead of nibbling on them throughout the day. Cutting back on treats with the most sugar, like candy, is also a good choice for dental health.

What Parents Can Do

Apart from limiting juice-filled sippy cups and sugary snacks to breakfast, lunch and dinner, there is a lot that parents can do to ensure that their children remain cavity-free. The most important thing is teach them how to effectively brush their teeth and help them get to a point where it becomes a routine rather than a chore. Giving them a toothbrush and toothpaste they like will make this easier. And don’t forget to teach them about flossing! Also avoid doing things that will spread bacteria, such as sharing spoons or cleaning a dropped pacifier with your own mouth.

Here’s a fun demonstration you can do with your kids to show how soda affects teeth:

 

The Role Of Your Child’s Dentist

Even if you’re already doing everything in this post with your children, sometimes a cavity will still appear. Don’t get discouraged! Everyone’s teeth are different, which is why the final crucial thing you can do as a parent to help your child keep their teeth healthy is bringing them in to see us for cleanings and dental exams!

Keep up the good work raising kids with great oral health!

Top image by Flickr user Upsilon Andromedae used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Breastfeeding And Your Baby’s Oral Health

ALL FIRST-TIME PARENTS are faced with a seemingly endless stream of questions, decisions, and unknowns about how to raise and care for their new baby. One of the big ones is whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed.

There are passionate proponents of both options, some claiming that breast milk is far superior to formula while others claim that there’s little nutritional difference, so why not take advantage of the convenience of formula? We can’t make this decision for you, but, as dentists, we can weigh in on the effects of breastfeeding on a baby’s oral health and development.

Key Breast Milk Nutrients

Breast milk provides the nutrients your baby needs to grow healthy and strong, such as:

  • proteins like casein, which helps build strong jaw muscles,
  • fatty acids crucial for brain development, and
  • vitamins that are vital for dental development.

All of these nutrients are important factors in helping reduce tooth decay once those baby teeth make their debut. One nutrient that breast milk lacks, however, is vitamin D, an essential component in good oral health because it helps the body absorb calcium. Older children and adults get vitamin D from sunlight, but that can be risky for babies, so formula and supplements are safer sources.

Facial Development And Bite

Leaving aside the nutrients of breast milk versus formula, studies have shown that the actual act of breastfeeding is better for a growing baby’s jaw and facial structure than bottle-feeding. Breastfeeding will help give your baby strong jaw muscles and healthy gums, which will decrease their chance of developing a malocclusion (bad bite) and requiring orthodontic treatment in their teens.

Breastfeeding And Tooth Decay

Most people think they only need to clean their baby’s gums after bottle-feeding because formula milk can linger longer, leaving sugars to start causing decay, but it’s just as important to clean the gums after breastfeeding. We also advise you not to put your baby to bed with a formula or breast milk bottle, as this can lead to a form of tooth decay known as “bottle rot” or “baby bottle tooth decay.”

How To Prevent Decay

Whether you decide to bottle-feed or breastfeed your baby, it’s important to begin the fight against tooth decay before the first tooth even shows up. Simply use a gentle washcloth or gauze to wipe away any leftover milk. Once the baby begins teething and you see their new teeth start popping up, you can start using a baby sized toothbrush with a grain of rice amount of toothpaste to clean their teeth!

Don’t forget that new moms need to take care of their own teeth too!

 

We’ve Got The Answers

Along with these kinds of concerns, you probably have many other questions regarding breastfeeding and how it could affect your child. We’re here for you! Give us a call or come in and we will address any concerns you have!

Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, the choice is always yours!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Effects Of Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers

BEING A PARENT, though wonderfully rewarding, can also be stressful and full of uncertainties, especially when it’s your first child and everything is new and overwhelming. Our practice might not be able to take away all of the uncertainties, but we can certainly help you out when it comes to pacifiers and thumb sucking and their effects on your child’s dental health.

Benefits of Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers

According to the American Dental Association, it’s a natural reflex for babies to suck on things. They find it comforting and soothing, which means that allowing thumb sucking or giving them a pacifier can help them feel happy and safe as they grow from infancy to toddlerhood. At this stage, are many benefits to pacifiers or thumb sucking, for the baby and for the parents:

  • It helps your baby sleep (which also helps you sleep).
  • It keeps your baby calmer when separated from you.
  • Studies have shown that pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

When To Wean

One of the main concerns parents often have about thumb sucking in particular is whether or not it will cause their adult teeth to grow in crooked. This certainly can be a problem, but not for toddlers. Most children will stop sucking their thumbs on their own by age three. If they don’t stop on their own, this is when it becomes important to encourage them to stop.

If vigorous thumb sucking continues around when they start getting their permanent teeth, it can lead to changes in the palate that affect the permanent bite. Dental alignment and bite issues are less common with pacifiers because breaking that habit can be as simple as taking the pacifier away if they’re still using them by age three.

For more information about weaning your child off of their pacifier, watch the video below:

Thumb Sucking And Pacifier Don’ts

When you do want to wean them off thumb sucking, be careful with topical aids that make the thumb taste unpleasant, because they can be ineffective or even harmful.

Weaning Strategies For Thumb Suckers

Ideally, you’ll be able to wean your child off thumb sucking before they turn three, but if your child is close to age five or six and is still an avid thumb sucker, it’s definitely time to get serious. Here are some safe strategies you can use:

  • Praise them for successes rather than scolding them for continued thumb sucking.
  • Use a rewards chart so they can see the goals they’re working towards.
  • Make sure they have plenty of activities to do with their hands, like arts and crafts.
  • Put socks on their hands while they sleep so that they don’t have access to their thumbs. You may need to tape the socks in place so they can’t pull them off.

Bring Your Concerns To Us

Don’t hesitate to talk to us if you’re worried about your child’s pacifier use or thumb sucking habit. We can answer any other questions you may have and help you come up with a strategy to safeguard your child’s healthy dental development.

Your child’s oral health is our first priority!

Top image by Flickr user futurestreet used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.