Many parents show concern about their child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use. As a parent, you may wonder at what age it must stop or what might happen if he doesn’t stop using it.
Surely, sucking is one of your baby’s natural reflexes. Did you know they start to suck their fingers while still inside the womb? Most infants and little children suck their thumbs or pacifiers to help them feel happy and secure and it helps them discover the world.
Sucking their thumbs provides many kids with a sense of security, particularly during difficult situation like when they get separated from their parents, in an unfamiliar plant or surrounded by strangers. Because sucking is relaxing, it also help induce sleep. This is the reason why they thumb suck or use pacifier during bedtime or when feeling tired.
However, long-term thumb sucking can cause issues with the alignment of their teeth and the proper growth of the mouth. It can also cause problems in the root of their mouth. Kids who simply rest their thumb in their mouths have lesser risk of experiencing these dental problems than children who suck their thumbs vigorously. Active thumbsuckers may experience problems with their baby teeth.
How to Break the Pacifier Habit
Pacifier use can affect the teeth the same way as thumbsucking does. But, compared to thumbsucking, pacifier use is much easier habit to break.
To wean your child from pacifier use, do it gradually. Start by removing the pacifier in relaxed situations such as when the child is playing, happy and at home. Once he get used to not using pacifier at home, start removing its outdoor use.
From this point, limit the use of pacifier in the crib. Convincing your child to do the final break may be difficult. Many parents use Santa or Binky Fairy to smoothen the transition.
Whatever method you use, prepare yourself for 2 to 5 nights of screaming, kicking and crying. Be firm and never give in. Remember that children have endured this phase for hundreds of years. Your child will get rid of it eventually.
Most children stop thumb sucking or pacifier use between 2 to 4 years of age. Such behaviour gradually lessens during this age when spend more hours discovering their surroundings. If your child doesn’t stop on his own, parents must stop the habit after age 4.
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for children suffering from ear infections, skin abscesses and other bacterial infections. However, there is a growing evidence that certain antibiotics could be linked with tooth enamel defects.
As part of the Iowa Fluoride Study, researchers followed 357 subjects from birth up to 32 months and surveyed every 3 to 4 months to get information on amoxicillin use and fluoride intake. The antibiotic amoxicillin is among the drug of choice for children suffering from upper respiratory tract infection and middle ear infection (otitis media).
By age one, about 75% of the subjects had taken amoxicillin. As they reached 32 months, 91% had already used amoxicillin. Researchers found that amoxicillin use from 3 to 6 months increased the risk of dental fluorosis by twofold.
Researchers found that amoxicillin use could be a risk factor of developing fluorosis on late-erupting permanent teeth such as both permanent maxillary central incisors and first molars. The signs of fluorosis could range from hardly visible white stains to brown discolorations.
Dr. Liang Hong told that even if the effect on dental enamel is minimal, it can have a huge effect on the overall dental health of the public since the use of amoxicillin is widespread.
What is Fluorosis?
Dental Fluorosis is the appearance of white flecks or lines on the teeth. This only occurs when a child took too much fluoride over long duration when the permanent teeth are still developing beneath the gums. It is believed that exposure to excess amounts of fluoride can disrupt the production of ameloblasts, the cells that produce the teeth’s hard protective coating, blocking the natural maturation of dental enamel.
When the teeth already emerge through the gums, you won’t develop fluorosis.
In the case of amoxicillin use, the effect is clinically similar to fluorosis, but are apparently different from tooth staining due to tetracycline use. The enamel defects seem as diffuse opacities, which could be due to enamel hypomineralization.
Keep in mind that fluorosis is not a disease and won’t affect the health and integrity of the teeth. Oftentimes, the discoloration is barely noticeable that only a dentist could see it during an examination.
Use JudiciouslyTo conclude, 24 percent of the subjects had fluorosis on maxillary central incisors. Such finding suggests that the use of amoxicillin during infancy may bring some undocumented risk to the developing teeth. Although the result of this study don’t permit recommendations to stop amoxicillin use, researchers do emphasize the need to prescribe and use antibiotics judiiciously, most particularly on infants.
Your smile has a very huge impact on your physical appearance and stained teeth is one thing you least expect to appear from your smile. Stained teeth can cause embarrassment, affecting your child’s self-esteem and confidence. It can ruin first impressions because of its unsightly appearance.
Understanding the cause of teeth staining can help improve dental hygiene practice and oral care habits.
Two Types of Tooth Stains
1. Extrinsic Stains. This stain appears on the tooth surface. It can be removed through professional polishing or scaling. Stains can be due to food dye, beverages, mouth rinse and the presence of colour-producing bacteria (chromogenic bacteria) and poor dental hygiene. Plaque bacteria (biofilm) on tooth surface absorb these stains and accumulate on teeth.
2. Intrinsic Stains. This type of stain is seen inside the tooth and can’t be removed by professional cleaning. There are several reasons why a stain develops inside the tooth. Antibiotic use, particularly tetracycline; infection, trauma and dental fluorosis or excessive ingestion of fluoride, which can weaken the enamel and cause brown spots on the teeth, are the leading causes of intrinsic stains.
Different Stain Color and Their Sources
The sources of stain can be determined by the color, and the patient’s lifestyle, diet, environmental and dental hygiene. This helps identify the most effective solution to manage and remove staining.
See chart below:
How to Prevent Your Teeth from Turning Yellow
Your pediatric dentist may create personalized treatment plans to prevent and remove stains, which may vary depending on the extent of the stain. Usually, when the plaque is eliminated, most extrinsic stains can’t stick to smooth tooth surface.
Thus, to prevent your teeth from turning yellow, it is important to follow these tips:
Your kitchen blender does a good job of crushing ice, but your teeth are not.
Many children, and even adults love chewing ice, especially during summer. This is also the season where dental clinics are stormed with patients complaining of broken teeth and gum pain. Chewing ice can cause several negative effects to your mouth:
1. It can destroy orthodontic appliances. Braces and retainers are necessary to achieve a properly aligned teeth and bite. However, despite their durable material and secure attachment, eating ice may damage these dental appliances. You may dislodge the wires on your braces or damage your brackets, which can cause unnecessary trip to your dentist. If your child is wearing braces or retainers, tell him/her the possible risks of eating ice.
2. It can damage tooth enamel. The tooth enamel is a strong, resilient substance of the human body but chewing ice can potentially damage this part. Your tooth enamel protects your teeth from acid attack and cavities.
3. Teeth may crack or chip. Our teeth tend to be strong and resilient but they are not intended to break hard objects such as ice. Crunching ice can break or crack a tooth, which leads to unnecessary trip to a clinic to repair it. If a tooth chipped, save the chipped part and place it in a bag of milk. Head immediately to your dentist to fix a broken tooth.
4. It can damage dental fillings. Fillings can be dislodged by eating hard objects like ice.
5. It may affect tooth sensitivity. Eating ice can damage tooth sensitivity and may even cause sore jaw.
What Should I Do?
Crunching ice is usually a subconscious habit that many children don’t mind. But as a parent, always remind them about the risks and potential problems that may arise from chewing ice in order to prevent this habit. Chewing ice can lead to unnecessary dental trips.
To feel refreshed, rather than eating large chunks of ice, we recommend allowing ice to just melt in your mouth, like a cool candy. Or you may offer apple chunks or baby carrots for kids wanting some crunch.
Many kids feel worried about having braces, thinking about what they will look like or feel. But regardless of what your child feels, you may have some concerns and questions on this orthodontic device.
Below are some important information you should know about kids and braces.
Why are Braces Necessary for Children?Children may need to wear braces for a number of reason:
Your pediatric dentist will be the first to see these problems and may advice to see an orthodontist – a dentist whose expertise is in fixing teeth alignment issues. The orthodontist will decide if your child will need braces or not.
Many orthodontist suggest seeing an orthodontist when the permanent teeth begin to emerge, usually at around the age of 7 as dental issues like overcrowding or uneven bite become noticeable. Seeing an orthodontist this early does not mean that your child will get braces immediately. It means that he’ll be able to identify the problem and be able to decide the best course of treatment.
What to Expect from the First Orthodontist VisitDuring your first visit, the dentist will carefully check the mouth, teeth and jaw. He may examine your child’s bite and ask questions about issues with swallowing, chewing and talking, or know if there’s popping or clicking of the jaw.
The orthodontist may request for X-ray procedure on the oral cavity and the jaw to check the teeth positions. The dentist will make an impression of the child’s teeth using a small container with sticky material. When the material is removed and harden, a replica of the child’s teeth is produced and this allows the orthodontist to choose the best treatment option.
Different Types of BracesBraces can fix misalignment by placing steady pressure on the teeth. The teeth gradually moves into a straighter, aligned position. Braces for children comes with wires, rubber bands and brackets. The brackets are individually glued to the teeth and are secured with rubber bands or wire. The rubber band come in many different colors that kids can choose. The wire is tightened slowly over time until the teeth becomes aligned.
Metal braces are still used nowadays but there are other options such as clear ceramic braces. Some choose to place it behind the teeth.
Once the braces are attached, your child should visit the dentist every month for adjustments and monitoring. The duration your child will wear them depends on the severity of the condition but the average time is about 2 years. After that, your child will wear retainer, which is a small, strong plastic with metal wires that looks like a mouthguard. Retainers are necessary to keep teeth in place.
How to Care Your BracesSince food gets easily stuck on metal braces, children wearing them must be extra careful on the food they eat as well as maintaining their teeth clean. Regular tooth brushing and daily flossing are necessary. Your orthodontist will recommend a special floss you can use for braces.
Your child should also refrain from eating certain foods such as gum, popcorn and sticky or hard candy as these food items can potentially damage braces.
Braces can be uncomfortable to wear, particularly when the dentists make adjustments. Having soft diet and taking pain reliever help ease the pain. Visit your dentist if the child has a loose bracket or wire, or if it is poking his/her mouth.
It’s another brand new year and many parents and children make New Year’s resolution. Most New Year’s resolutions are health-related – they want to lose weight, eat healthy, exercise regularly etc. Aside from your weight and diet, one of the most important things to prioritize is your oral health.
If you want to commit on better caring for your teeth and gums, have these resolutions for this New Year.
Make a promise to flossing
We all know regular tooth brushing is not enough to thoroughly remove food bits or residue from your mouth or prevent plaque buildup. To ensure this, flossing should be done too. If you are not regularly flossing, the New Year is a perfect time to start.
We have discussed previously the different types of floss – whether you use floss picks or traditional string floss, the most important is that you floss your teeth every day. To easily remember flossing, place a container of floss right next to your toothpaste and brush. Bring another stash in your work desk drawer or inside your purse so you can floss wherever you go.
Get a New Toothbrush
The best way to prevent plaque is to replace worn out brush with a new one. But keep in mind that replacing toothbrush shouldn’t be done on a yearly basis! Replace it every 3 to 4 months or when you notice the bristles are fraying.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Numerous studies have confirmed the direct relationship between sugar intake and the development of tooth decay. Therefore, reducing sugar can also significantly lower the risk of tooth decay. The best way to reduce sugar intake is to avoid buying too much sugar treats for your kids. Also, swapping some items will help cut back your intake. For instance, offer sugar-free treats or drink fruit juice instead of soda.
Eat More Foods Rich in Calcium
When you’re cutting back sugar, you have to make an effort to solidify your diet to benefit your gums and teeth. Foods high in calcium such as dairy foods, cruciferous vegetables and fish are highly beneficial for healthy gums and stronger teeth. Foods rich in fiber help scrub away plaque and increase the production of saliva.
Schedule Dental Appointments
According to the American Dental Association, nearly one third of Americans don’t visit their dentist yearly. Scheduling an appointment with your pediatric dentist is one of the easiest resolutions you can do for your oral health. Even if it seems your teeth or your kid’s look fine, be sure to make a note in your calendar so you won’t forget to call your dentist for an appointment.
We know regular brushing is a very important part of dental care and hygiene, but flossing is a crucial part as well. The American Dental Association has always emphasized the importance of cleaning in between the teeth, however, many parents overlook this oral practice to their kids and even themselves.
Flossing in between the teeth can remove trapped food particles that your toothbrush can’t reach. It also helps remove plaque buildup. There are two things commonly used today – the traditional dental floss and the floss pick. Both types have a thin filament of fiber that is coated in wax, so it could slide easier between the teeth.
But which one is more effective? Looking at the two floss types – is there really a difference?
Dental Floss vs. Floss Picks
Dental floss has been used for many decades than floss picks. It is effective at getting rid of food residues between the teeth that toothbrush bristles cannot penetrate. Bacteria inside the mouth produce lactic acid, which causes plaque buildup. Plaque is a biofilm containing different types of bacteria. The lactic acid from bacteria demineralizes the enamel, which leads to dental cavities. Regular flossing can prevent the buildup of plaque.
In addition, flossing helps prevent gum disease. Many flosses contain anti-coagulant for people who have mild gingivitis or gum disease to prevent any form of bleeding.
On the other hand, floss picks are disposable pieces of plastic with a tiny floss on the ends. Many people use them over traditional string floss. They are easy to use, particularly when reaching molars at the back of the mouth. Floss picks are also good in removing bacteria and food.
Numerous studies have been done to compare the effectiveness of dental floss and floss picks. Most of the results found that both are effective when used properly and regularly. In a study checking their effect on the gums, researchers have shown the both have equally reduced plaque scores, which means that there’s no significant difference between the two.
Which One Works Best For You
So far, nearly all the research done has concluded that there’s no huge difference in the effectiveness between a dental floss and floss picks. This means that what is more important is that you floss at all rather than skipping flossing. Some people prefer floss picks while other choose the old dental floss.
Flossing every day can make a great difference in your oral health and prevents plaque build-up that can damage your enamel.
Until now, more and more evidence continue to surface regarding the health concerns linked with unhealthy weight and obesity among children and adults. More often, the focus is on the diseases in the body but recent studies revealed its effect on oral health, specifically the gums.
Based on a study, obesity can affect kids’ oral health in two ways:
First one, obesity highly affects a child’s diet – what they eat and how often they eat. This leads to a higher risk of dental carries and/or cavities. Due to their greater preference for foods high in carbohydrates and sugar, the risk of developing plaque is much greater.
Second, obesity is often associated with an increase in gingival disease. Studies have found that the more overweight a person is, the greater their risk of having gum disease. This could also be due to their diet and the foods they mostly consume.
Prevalence of Gum Disease
In the US, more than 3 million people experience gum disease every year and this figure consistently increases. Gum disease refers to an infection of the tissues that surround the teeth, known as the gums. But gum disease can be prevented, regardless of your weight.
At the early stages of gum disease, the damage can be reversed. But once it progresses into a severe level of infection, the damage becomes a lifetime. Such stage is called periodontitis. When this infection emerge, the gums tend to pull away from the teeth. If left ignored, the damage can reach into the bones and supportive tissues of the mouth, leading to a more serious condition, including tooth loss.
One of the biggest factors of having gum disease is poor dental hygiene. Because dental plaque develops on the teeth, it could turn into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed through regular brushing and requires professional dental cleaning. Hence, it is important not to miss dental appointments.
Like bones, our teeth are very resilient and strong. With proper dental care and regular dental check-ups with your pediatric dentist, you can keep them healthy and strong. But no matter how meticulous you are, accidents happen. And sadly, it could lead to a cracked tooth.
What is Cracked Tooth Syndrome?
Cracked tooth syndrome happens when a tooth has a tiny crack that’s can only be seen under X-rays or is beneath the gums and difficult to see.
Accidents, biting hard food such as ice or candy or teeth grinding can result in a cracked tooth. Cracked tooth syndrome most often appear on the molars because they do most of the chewing.
Symptoms of a cracked tooth may be noticeable or not, but it is important to visit your dentist right away. The dentist can check the molar and see how serious the crack is.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
Most often, cracked tooth syndrome can be asymptomatic, which means that it does not have any signs and symptoms. Thin, hairline fractures that don’t reach the sensitive part of the teeth often left unnoticed until it reaches the point when the tooth breaks in half. Later on, these tiny fractures may promote the growth of bacteria, which can lead to tooth decay.
However, there are a number of common symptoms to watch out for. Pain may be hard to localize and often comes and go. You may be very sensitive to cold or hot drinks. In some cases, you can feel a sharp edge of a tooth using your tongue. If you notice any of these, visit your dentist immediately for repair.
How to Fix Cracked Tooth Syndrome
The spreading of cracks can be slowed down or even stopped by seeking early intervention.
To detect tiny cracks on the teeth, a small, high-intensity light is applied to illuminate the teeth. Through this, any tiny, unseen fractures can easily be found using this technique. If detected at the earliest stage, the chip or crack can be repaired without the risk of losing the tooth.
The treatment approach for Cracked Tooth Syndrome will depend on the position and severity of the cracks.
Simple crack treatment involves removal of the weakened cusp and replacement of a crown or a large filling. The new crown or filling will protect the tooth and prevent any crack from spreading.
A complex crack procedure is needed if the crack has reached the nerve or has already caused inflammation. At this stage, a root canal therapy may be necessary.
If a simple crack is ignored and left untreated, it may become a complex crack over time. The dental nerve inside may die and infection may take place. At this point, a root canal may be required or sometimes, the removal of the tooth.
Baby teeth must be extracted to ensure incoming permanent tooth to emerge without problems such as misalignment and crowding. Oftentimes, milk teeth are naturally lost or pulled out from force which is common among children.
If your child’s tooth has been removed, the aftercare needed extends past the dental office. Proper dental care is as important as the procedure to ensure that your child’s gums heal quickly and prevent any infection. Below are some proper care tips after tooth extraction from Mint Kids Dentistry.
Right After the Tooth Extraction
Avoid swishing and using a straw. Within 24 hours post-extraction, the freshly exposed tooth socket will be very sensitive. To prevent dislodging healing blood clot, be sure not to introduce a straw to your child within this period. When sipping, the suction made can remove the clot, which could lead to further bleeding. In addition, swishing any liquids must not be encouraged as it can loosen the clots.
Eat soft food. Within 24 hours after extraction, give only soft foods that don’t need too much chewing. The gum area will be very sensitive that chewing solid foods can be painful and uncomfortable. Soft foods that you can give include soup, yogurt, mashed potatoes, pancakes, eggs and apple sauce are perfect within 24 hours of pulled tooth.
In addition, avoid serving too hot or too cold food as the gums are very sensitive to extreme temperatures. As the affected area heals, you’ll be able to add more solids into their diet but it is suggested to continue giving soft foods for a week.
Take pain reliever as prescribed. You can give your child pain medications to reduce pain and discomfort.
Tips 2 to 7 Days After Pulled Tooth
Use ice packs. Your child may experience swelling a couple of days after tooth extraction. To ease the pain and swelling, you may apply ice pack over a swollen cheek ever 2 to 3 hours or as necessary. Wrap ice in thin towel or cloth and apply it over swollen area for 15 minutes.
Have a saltwater rinse. After 24 hours, it is now safe to rinse exposed socket with warm saltwater to clean the area. Combine 8 ounces of warm water with a teaspoon of salt and have it swished in their mouth for a few seconds before spitting out. Saltwater helps clean the mouth and ease the pain on the sensitive area.
Hands off. Your child should not touch the exposed area to keep it clean. Tell your child to avoid picking or touching the extraction area as this practice introduces germs that can delay the healing process and may lead to infection.
Brush your teeth. Although your child’s mouth will be sensitive after several days post-extraction, they must continue brushing their teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day. However, they must do it much gentler than the usual and avoid brushing the exposed socket to prevent bleeding. Flossing should also be continued.
If the pain or swelling does not subside after three days post-extraction or if the pain worsens after several days, contact your pediatric dentist immediately to rule out an infection.
Mint Kids Dentistry