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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.

Managing That Halloween Sweet Tooth

HALLOWEEN IS OUR favorite spooky time of year, but when it comes to sugar’s effects on teeth, all that candy can be downright scary. The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that it feeds harmful oral bacteria that excrete acid, and the acid erodes enamel and leads to tooth decay. So how can we keep our costumed Halloween adventures clear of tooth decay?

Ranking Candy On Dental Health

Very few houses give away treats like sugar-free xylitol gum to trick-or-treaters, so the chances are slim that the candy will actually be healthy. However, some types of sugary candy are worse than others, or present different kinds of problems.

  • Hard candy is a problem because there’s a risk of breaking our teeth if we chew it, but sucking on it isn’t safe either because that means holding a source of sugar in our mouths for an extended period.
  • Sour candies are like a double attack against dental health, because not only do they contain a lot of sugar to feed the bacteria, but they are also highly acidic, so they can harm our enamel directly!
  • Sticky or gummy candy is especially bad for teeth because it remains stuck there, feeding the bacteria for a long time and giving them a larger opportunity to attack the enamel.
  • The good news is that the least harmful sugary candy is chocolate! It doesn’t stick to teeth like most other candies, and the cocoa in it has many beneficial properties. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar will be in it, so aim for dark chocolate.

Reducing The Candy Quantity

Being picky about which types of candy we eat is one way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but an even better way to do that is by simply eating less candy. As parents, we can help our children out with this by coming up with a plan before trick-or-treating time. We could let them trade the bulk of their candy haul for some kind of non-candy prize or limit the number of houses they visit. We just have to make sure to discuss the plan with them in advance.

More Tooth-Healthy Strategies

There are a few other simple things you can do to reduce the dental effects of all that Halloween candy. You can drink more waterto rinse out the sugar, limit the frequency of candy consumption more than the quantity, and wait thirty minutes after eating candy to brush your teeth. The reason for that last one is that it takes your saliva about half an hour to stabilize the pH of your mouth after eating sugar.

Keeping Teeth Healthy Year-Round

The Halloween season will come to an end, but the job of keeping our teeth healthy is never done! Make sure you’re always brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, keeping those sugary treats to a minimum, and scheduling regular dental visits!

Have a spooky Halloween!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.

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.

Tips To Soothe Your Teething Child

TEETHING CAN BE an uncomfortable process for both your little one and those who care for them.

We know you want to help soothe your babies as best as you can through this time, so today we’re going to share our thoughts on teething and how you can help them through this process.

Each Child’s Teething Timeline Is Different

Although this is different for every child, you can expect your baby to begin teething between six and 12 months old—some teeth may appear as early as 3 months or even as late as 14 months, however. Whenever they begin to sprout their first teeth, it’s important to remember good oral care begins long before their pearly whites make an appearance.

Caring for your infant’s smile before their first teeth erupt is important because bacteria in the mouth can leave behind plaque that damage their incoming teeth. You can prevent plaque from adhering to your child’s gums by gently wiping them with a soft, moist washcloth or piece of gauze. We recommend doing this at least twice a day, especially after feeding your baby and before putting them to bed.

Keep An Eye Out For Teething Symptoms

Teething brings about a variety of signs and symptoms, but here are some of the most common that infants experience:

  • Fussiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Bumps in the gums

If your child begins to develop a persistent fever, diarrhea, or a rash in addition to these symptoms, however, contact their pediatrician.

Watch the video below to learn a bit more about teething symptoms and how long they should last.

Soothe Your Child’s Discomfort With These Tips

Cutting new teeth may not be the most pleasant experience for your little one, but there are plenty of ways to help soothe their discomfort.

Massaging their gums, for instance, counters the pressure from their incoming teeth and in turn eases teething pain. You can try using a clean finger, a small cold spoon, or a moist gauze pad or washcloth to see which your child most prefers.

Teething rings and toys are another useful tool in the teething process. Chewing on these provides the same pain relief as massaging by countering that pressure in the gums. Refrigerating (not freezing!) these toys before they chew will provide an additional cooling sensation to help soothe your child’s soreness.

Be sure to avoid numbing agents. They may seem like a good idea to ease the discomfort of incoming teeth, but the FDA has issued a warning about the potential harmful effects of numbing agents containing benzocaine and lidocaine. Teething is a normal part of development that can be treated without the aid of prescription or over-the-counter medications. If you have any questions about how this applies to your child’s unique situation, give us a call or contact your pediatrician.

We’re Here Every Step Of The Way

The first few months of a child’s life is full of excitement and lots of changes! We understand that along with those changes come a lot of questions about how to best care for your growing baby. If you would like more information about how to care for your child while they’re teething, or if you have any other questions about their developing oral health, give us a call or make an appointment today!

Thank you for trusting us with your growing family! We love our patients.

Top image by Flckr user Donnie Ray Jones 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.