The Effects Of Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers

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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 four. 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

Because these sources of comfort don’t cause damage until the adult teeth are coming in, it isn’t necessary to attempt to break your child’s habit before the age of four. Younger toddlers in particular aren’t old enough to understand why parents want them to stop sucking their thumb or pacifier, so they’ll only get upset.

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 five, but if your child is close to age 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.

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How Pregnancy Affects Your Oral Health

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PREGNANCY AFFECTS NEARLY every aspect of your life–your lifestyle, your diet, your health, and much more! Your mouth is no exception to the changes your body may experience during pregnancy. During this special time, you’ll need to pay particular attention to your oral health for both your sake and your growing baby’s.

You May Be More Prone To Dental Problems

One of the main concerns we have for expectant mothers is what we call pregnancy gingivitis. Around 40 percent of pregnant women have some form of gum disease–gingivitis being the first stage. Because of raised hormone levels during pregnancy, you may be more sensitive to dental plaque than before, causing your gums to be sensitive, swell and bleed. Studies have linked mothers with gum disease to premature delivery and lower birth weights.

In about five percent of pregnancies, women may experience lumps along the gum line and in between teeth. Luckily, these swellings are harmless and usually go away after baby is born. Even though these are known as “pregnancy tumors,” there is no need to be alarmed as they are not cancerous and can be easily removed by your dentist.

Morning sickness can also cause dental woes for expectant mothers. Pregnant women often complain of sensitive gag reflexes and even routine tasks such as brushing and flossing can induce vomiting. Exposure to acid, especially strong stomach acid, can lead to tooth enamel erosion, decay and sensitivity. After vomiting, we recommend rinsing your mouth out with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to neutralize stomach acid and prevent any damage to teeth.

Protect Your Teeth During Pregnancy

To protect your teeth during pregnancy, one of your first stops should be the dentist’s office. If you are planning on getting pregnant, talk to your dentist beforehand so you can fix any dental issues before conceiving. And when you do find out that you are pregnant, don’t just go to your OB/GYN, make your way to the dentist’s as well!

Routine cleanings and checkups are safe during pregnancy, and as you may be more susceptible to certain dental problems at this time, getting frequent cleanings is a must. You will also need to be diligent about your oral hygiene at home. As always, brush at least twice a day and floss daily.

Another thing to remember is that your diet matters. Did you know that baby’s teeth start developing between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? You will need plenty of nutrients–specifically vitamins A, C and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous–to make sure their teeth, gums and bones develop properly.

Mothers, We Are Here For You

Pregnancy can bring with it a lot of change and responsibility, but we want our patients to know that we are here for you. We want to make sure that your dental health is taken care of so you can focus on preparing for your little one to come into the world. So whether you’re planning on becoming pregnant or already are, we’d love to see you in our office!

Our patients mean the world to us!

 

Top image by Flickr user Phalinn Ooi 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.

Don’t Be Fooled By Fruit Juice

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EVERY CHILD LOVES sugary treats! But most parents understand how bad they can be for a developing smile. Unfortunately, some sweet things are more deceiving than others. As your trusted dental team, we’re here to make sure your kids can get the nutrients they need to have strong, healthy and beautiful teeth!

Fruit Juice Contains A Lot Of Sugar

It’s not always easy getting little ones to eat their fruits and veggies. Many parents turn to juice as an alternative to help them get some of the nutrients they need. While there are nutritional benefits to fruit juice, it can also be really hard on teeth.

Fruit juice, even if it’s all natural, contains a lot of sugar. What’s worse is that many fruit juices, especially those marketed for children, have added sugar in them. And even though fruit juice is often touted as a healthy alternative to soda, the majority of them contain just as much sugar as soda, sometimes even more! And as you well know, sugar is the number one culprit behind tooth decay.

Unfortunately, sugar isn’t the only problem–fruit juice is also very acidic. The combination of sugar and acid can pack a mean punch: while acid weakens tooth enamel, sugar feeds cavity-causing bacteria and contributes to decay. Needless to say, this can be extremely bad for young, developing teeth!

Follow These Steps To Protect Your Child’s Teeth

The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children one to six years old should have no more than four to six ounces of fruit juice per day. When you give your child fruit juice, follow these five tips to help protect their teeth from decay:

  1. Don’t let them sip throughout the day. Have your child drink fruit juice all at once instead of throughout the day. Tooth decay is more about how long sugar comes in contact with the teeth and less about how much. This means that parents should avoid putting juice in sippy cups.
  2. Dilute it with water. This is an easy step to protect your child’s teeth from damage.
  3. Drink at mealtime. More saliva is produced when eating a meal, helping wash away sugar left by juice and remineralize tooth enamel. Chewing food also helps to physically remove sugar adhering to teeth.
  4. Use a straw. Using a straw will reduce the amount of sugar and acid that comes in direct contact with teeth.
  5. Rinse with water. Offer your child water after drinking juice to wash away any remaining sugar.

In general, it’s better to eat fruit than to drink it. Fiber in whole fruit slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, so it’s not only better for your child’s teeth, it’s also better for their body.

Check out this video to learn more about baby bottle tooth decay and the negative effects of sugary drinks on your child’s smile:

Your Child’s Smile Deserves The Best

Fruit juice and soda may be what your child requests, but milk and water are much better choices. They’ll thank you later in life for healthy, cavity-free teeth! After all, your child’s smile deserves the best… not necessarily their taste buds!

Thank you for trusting us with your child’s dental health!

Top image by Flickr user Zhao ! 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.