Archive for Blog

Conquering Dental Anxiety

EVEN THOUGH WE know, logically, that going to the dentist is a safe, normal, and important part of staying healthy, many of us don’t find it particularly fun to lie flat on our backs while someone pokes around our teeth and gums. For some people, the very thought of visiting the dentist fills them with anxiety, and it could even be a full-blown phobia. That’s why we’d like to put our focus on helping our patients overcome their dental anxieties and fears.

Dental Anxiety Statistics: You Are Not Alone

Fear of going to the dentist is fairly common, with an estimated nine to 15 percent of Americans completely avoiding visiting the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That means up to 40 million Americans are taking a serious gamble with their dental health. Putting off a basic twice-a-year cleaning out of fear leaves patients much more susceptible to tooth decay and painful infection. It’s always better (for your wallet as well as your health) to view dental care as preventative, not just reactive.

Why Does Dental Anxiety Happen?

A lot of people who avoid the dentist due to dental anxiety or fear do so because of a previous negative experience they had that soured them on the concept of dentistry altogether. The feeling of not being in control is another reason people might be nervous. We understand this, and we’re dedicated to helping our patients feel comfortable so that they can move forward with the right professional oral health care to keep their teeth strong and healthy for life.

History and Pop Culture Skew Versus Modern Dentistry

If you’re worried about going to the dentist, that might be because history and pop culture have given you the wrong idea. Before World War II made anesthetics the norm, dental procedures were uncomfortable, to say the least. The field has come a long way since then, even though movies and TV haven’t done much to update cultural expectations. Modern dental offices maintain a high standard of comfort and care for patients.

Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

There are a few things you can do to reduce your dental anxiety.

  • Come visit our practice before your appointment, especially if this is your first time coming in. Familiarize yourself with our space and members of our staff so that it doesn’t seem so foreign on appointment day. You might even want to bring someone you trust along with you.
  • Learn as much as you can about what happens in a typical dental appointment. If you take away the mystery, it will help you regain a sense of control.
  • Talk to us about your anxiety. When we know this is something you struggle with, there’s more we can do to help you.
  • Bring a distraction like headphones and a playlist of relaxing music to your appointment. Click Here to learn more

Your Friendly Neighborhood Dental Professionals

Your care and comfort are our top priorities. If you or someone in your family struggles with dental anxiety and it’s interfering with getting needed dental care, we’d love to schedule a time for you to come to our practice so that you can get used to the facility and get to know our team. We can answer any questions you may have.

We hope to see you soon!

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.

Posted in: Archived Posts, Blog, Informative

Leave a Comment (0) →

How Smoking Affects Oral Health

WE’VE ALL HEARD over and over how smoking can adversely impact health, with the most infamous example being lung cancer. But smoking doesn’t only harm the lungs; it damages every single system in the body, and it also damages oral health.

Smoking Increases the Risk of Oral Cancer

Like we said before, lung cancer tends to get all the attention when it comes to consequences of smoking, but four out of every five people diagnosed with oral cancer smoke or chew tobacco. Early symptoms of oral cancer include persistent mouth sores or pain, unusual white patches, swelling, numbness, difficulty chewing or swallowing, and a sensation of having something stuck in the throat.

What Is Smoker’s Keratosis?

The weirdest effect smoking can have on oral health is that it can cause white patches to develop on the roof of the mouth. These patches are smoker’s keratosis (or stomatitis nicotina). This condition is still something of a medical mystery, but the current theory is that the white patches are caused by inflamed mucous glands. While they typically aren’t painful, they can be pre-cancerous.

Smoking Makes Gum Disease More Likely

As many as half of adults older than 30 have some form of gum disease, and smoking doubles the risk of developing it and makes it harder to treat. Gum disease, if left untreated, can lead to serious damage to the gingiva (gum tissue), bone loss in the jaw, and tooth loss. In severe cases, it can even be life-threatening if the bacteria in the mouth gets into the bloodstream through inflamed gums.

What About Vaping?

Vaping or smoking e-cigarettes is often portrayed as a much healthier option to traditional smoking, but the vapor still contains nicotine and ultra-fine toxic chemicals and heavy metals. The nicotine itself reduces blood flow, affecting teeth and gums, potentially causing gum recession and death of gum tissue. It can also reduce saliva, leading to dry mouth (which causes all kinds of problems from bad breath to tooth decay), and it can trigger teeth grinding, which damages teeth. Click here to learn more.

Secondhand Smoke Isn’t Safe Either

Sometimes smokers will claim that they’re not hurting anyone else with their habit, and they’re willing to accept the risks to their own health. Unfortunately, this is not accurate. Studies have suggested a link between cavities (in baby teeth and adult teeth) and regular exposure to secondhand smoke. The broader health risks are especially serious for small children and infants, including infections, asthma attacks, and even SIDS.

The Benefits of Quitting

Someone who has smoked for decades might think that quitting can’t do anything to improve their health, so why bother? It turns out that even people with a long history of smoking can significantly improve their health outlook by quitting. Obviously it’s better not to start smoking in the first place, but it’s never too late to quit!

Take Advantage of the Resources Around You

Quitting an addictive habit isn’t easy, but smokers who need help quitting are not alone. Some of the best resources are the support of family, friends, and counselors. There’s also a lot of great information available online, and the dentist is another great resource. If you are a smoker, make sure to schedule regular dental exams (sometimes more than two a year) to keep your mouth healthy!

We’re always happy to see our patients!

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.

Posted in: Archived Posts, Blog, Informative

Leave a Comment (0) →

Animal Teeth Olympics

TEETH ARE OUR PASSION, and while we spend most of our time focusing on human teeth, sometimes it’s fun to take a look at the truly amazing teeth of the animal kingdom. So today we’re going to hold the olympics of animal teeth, to see which critters win the gold for biggest, strongest, hardest, and most teeth, as well as the teeth that are simply the strangest.

The Biggest Chompers

If we’re talking teeth used for biting, then hippos are the winners. If we’re talking about any kind of tooth, however, then African elephants win easily — unless it’s a question of the ratio of body length to tooth length, in which case the narwhal steals the gold medal. Male narwhals can grow tusks longer than half the length of their entire bodies, yet scientists still aren’t entirely sure what their purpose is. Click Here to learn more.

The Strongest Bite

Having big teeth is great, but how much bite pressure can they use? Enormous tusks are useless in this area. The animal with the strongest bite in the world is the Nile crocodileThese scaly predators can snap their jaws with a whopping 5000 pounds per square inch of pressure. For comparison, we only use at most 200 psi to chew steak!

The Hardest Teeth

The hardest substance ever discovered in nature is the tooth of a limpet (sea snail). They have a tensile strength between 3 and 6.5 gigapascals, breaking the previous record of spider silk at 1.3 GPa. Limpets need super hard teeth in order to chew the algae off of hard rocks. The discovery of the hardness of limpet teeth could lead to technological breakthroughs in materials for construction, protective armor, and even dental fillings!

The Toothiest Jaw

Which animal do you think has the most teeth? Sharks, maybe? While sharks certainly do have a lot of teeth and are continuously regrowing ones that fall out, the answer is actually catfish, with the toothiest species sporting a staggering 9,280 teeth. These are cardiform teeth that look like tiny needles or hedgehog quills, and they’re arranged in rows and rows just inside their lips, angled backward so that once a catfish swallows something, it’s not getting back out.

Special Category: Weirdest Teeth

The gold for weirdest animal teeth has to go to the crabeater seal. These adorable swimmers have teeth that are individually serrated. They almost look like Christmas trees! But don’t worry; they don’t use them to saw through muscle and bone. No, the purpose of the weird shape is simply to strain krill. They take in a big gulp of krill-filled water, then close their teeth and squeeze out the excess water, keeping all that tasty krill trapped inside.

How Long Has It Been Since We Saw Your Chompers?

Do know of any other interesting animal teeth? We’d love to hear about them the next time you come in for an appointment. If it’s been a while since the last time we saw you, give us a call, and make sure you’re keeping up with your daily brushing and flossing in the meantime!

Our favorite teeth will always be our patients’!

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.

Posted in: Archived Posts, Blog, Informative

Leave a Comment (0) →

Teeth and Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

HALLOWEEN IS A TON OF fun every year, and it’s right around the corner! We love the costumes, the decorations, and the local events, but we’re a little wary of all that candy. Sugar isn’t just tasty to us; the harmful bacteria in our mouths love it. If you want to make Halloween a little healthier for your teeth (and safer for your braces), here’s a handy breakdown of how different types of treats and candies rank in terms of promoting good dental health.

Types of Halloween Candy to Avoid

Anything hard, sticky, or sour is going to be bad for your teeth. Hard candy takes a while to dissolve, which means your teeth are exposed to sugar for a long time, and it can easily break a bracket loose. Even the nuts in soft candy bars pose a risk.

Sticky candy is a problem because it adheres to the teeth and braces, pushing the sugar right up against the enamel and gum tissue. That’s like breakfast in bed for bacteria! Sour candy might not pose the same dangers to your brackets, but it contains acid as well as sugar, so it’s doubly bad for teeth.

Candy That’s Good for Teeth?

Not all candy is awful for oral health or dangerous for braces-wearers. Chocolate is on the good end of the oral health spectrum, and the darker, the better. Chocolate contains flavanoids and polyphenols — compounds that limit oral bacteria, fight bad breath, and slow tooth decay. Dark chocolate has more of these compounds and their benefits are less offset by sugar than in sweeter milk chocolate.

Other candies that are safe to eat with braces and not terrible for your teeth include mint patties, peanut butter cups, and nut-free chocolate bars. These are soft and not too sticky, so you can safely bite into them without risking a bracket. Click Here to learn more.

Fight Back Against the Effects of Sugar

Aside from avoiding the more harmful candies in favor of chocolate, there are other ways we can combat the effects sugar has on our teeth:

  • Don’t give harmful oral bacteria an all-day buffet! If you’re planning on eating a lot of candy, it’s better to eat it all in one sitting than spreading it out across an entire day. This way, your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the acids and wash away leftover sugar.
  • Drink water after enjoying some candy. It will help rinse out the sugar sticking to your teeth.
  • Wait half an hour after eating candy, then brush your teeth! Good brushing and flossing habits are essential to protecting your teeth from the effects of sugary candy.

Another Great Resource Is the Orthodontist!

Being careful about which candy you eat and when, rinsing with water, and maintaining good daily brushing and flossing habits are all great, but don’t forget about the best resource you have: the orthodontist! If you’d like to learn more about which treats are healthiest for your teeth and safest for your braces, all you have to do is ask!

Have a happy, healthy 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.

Posted in: Archived Posts, Blog, Informative

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Main Culprits Behind Child Tooth Decay

AT LEAST TWO OUT OF every five children will develop one or more cavity by the time they turn eleven. That statistic makes tooth decay the most common childhood disease. The good news is that parents can make a huge difference in their children’s dental health, and the first step is understanding the major culprits of childhood tooth decay.

Sugary Drinks in Sippy Cups and Bottles

Many of the drinks kids love are packed with sugar, and we’re not just talking about soda. Fruit juice, despite carrying the assumption of being healthier, contains nearly the same amount of sugar, and even milk is nowhere near sugar-free. The sugars in these drinks are a problem for oral health because harmful oral bacteria love to eat sugar as much as we do, increasing the risk of decay.

What makes sugary drinks even more dangerous is constant exposure. Drinking a cup of juice with a meal is one thing. Carrying a sippy cup or bottle of juice around for hours is another. So many children get tooth decay due to bottles and sippy cups that it actually has a name: bottle rot.

Don’t worry; we aren’t suggesting that parents should ban sugary drinks entirely. However, we do recommend cutting back and limiting them to mealtimes. For children who use a sippy cup or bottle to fall asleep, try filling it with water instead of something sweet.

Treats, Snacks, and Candy

Sugar in solid form is also a problem. Most of the popular snack foods our kids love are full of sugar too. It takes saliva about half an hour to neutralize leftover food particles and wash away sugary residue. Constant snacking interrupts this crucial cycle just as much as continuously sipping on juice does.

Again, we’re not saying you should ban sugary treats and snacks. Like with sugary drinks, these treats are best enjoyed at mealtimes instead of spread throughout the day. If your child relies on snacks between meals for energy, offer them healthier treats like sliced fruits and veggies rather than processed, high-sugar snack foods.

Tips for Parents

Parents play a major role in ensuring their children’s good oral health. The most important part is to teach kids good brushing and flossing habits and help them understand the power these habits have. Use encouragement and positive reinforcement to build good habits, try to make it fun, and help your child feel involved by letting them choose a toothbrush they like.

You can also be a good example of what proper brushing and flossing look like, and make sure to avoid bacteria-spreading practices like sharing spoons or cleaning a dropped pacifier with your mouth. Click here to learn more.

Your Best Ally: Your Child’s Pediatric Dentist

Different factors (like genetics) leave some children more susceptible to tooth decay than others, so a cavity may appear even if you’re doing everything right. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with your child’s regular dental cleanings and exams. We can catch problems early and recommend solutions to keep your child’s smile healthy and bright!

Keep encouraging your kids in their great dental health habits!

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.

Posted in: Archived Posts, Blog, Informative

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Ways Medicine Affects Oral Health

MEDICATION COMES with a list of potential side effects. Sometimes those side effects include a negative impact on oral health.

The Chemistry Of Medicine And The Mouth

Certain medications and vitamins can be pretty hard on our teeth, even for the short time they’re in our mouths. As adults, we swallow most of our medicines in pill form, so we don’t have to worry about these problems, but it can be an issue for children. Medicine for kids often comes in the form of sweet syrup and multivitamins, and the sugars in them feeds oral bacteria and leads to tooth decay.

Another culprit is asthma inhalers, which can lead to oral thrush — white patches of fungus on the tongue, inside the cheeks, and other oral tissues. These can be irritating or painful. The best way to prevent this complication from inhaler use is for the patient to rinse with water after every use. Rinsing is a good idea for those sugary cough syrups and multivitamins too.

Oral Side Effects

Just because a pill can’t hurt your mouth directly while you’re swallowing it doesn’t mean it won’t have side effects that impact your mouth later on.

  • Medications containing blood thinning components can lead to bleeding gums after brushing.
  • Several medications have a side effect of causing inflammation in the gum tissue, which increases the risk of gum disease.
  • Heart medications, nervous system stimulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs can affect our sense of taste, leaving a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth or causing changes in general. As unpleasant as it can be, this isn’t usually a serious side effect.
  • In rare cases, osteoporosis treatment drugs can compromise the bone tissue in the jaw, increasing the risk of gum recession and tooth loss.

The most common oral side effect of both over-the-counter and prescribed medications is dry mouth. This is a dangerous one because we need saliva to protect our teeth and oral tissues from bacteria. Without saliva, we are much more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease. Click Here to learn more.

Make Sure We Know About Your Medications

It’s important to be aware of these side effects and to keep your doctor and your dentist in the loop if any of them occur. Prescriptions can sometimes be adjusted to minimize negative effects, but only if your health care professionals know what’s going on!

The dentist is your best resource for any oral health concerns you have!

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.

Posted in: Archived Posts, Blog, Informative, Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Daily Habits That Harm Our Teeth

OUR TOOTH ENAMEL holds the distinction of being the hardest substance in our bodies — even harder than bone! But don’t take that to mean our teeth are invincible. As hard as enamel is, it’s also somewhat brittle, so we should be careful to avoid daily habits that attack that weak point. Two of the most dangerous ones are mouth breathing and nail biting.

Nail Biting: Bad For Nails, Bad For Teeth

The most obvious evidence that nail biting is a harmful habit is the shredded, torn nails, but it’s just as bad for oral health, if not worse. Nail biting can erode, chip, and crack teeth. It can shift them, creating gaps, and can even affect the bite, increasing the risk of developing a chronic teeth-grinding habit.

It also introduces all the dirt and germs under the fingernails to the gum tissue, where it can cause gum disease. Possibly the worst thing nail biting can do to the teeth is trigger root resorption, which is when the roots of teeth begin to break down, leaving the teeth in danger of falling out. This risk is even greater for orthodontic patients with wire braces. Click Here to learn more.

Mouth Breathing: Use As Emergency Backup Only

One of the amazing things about the human body is the many redundancies built in so that we don’t lose all function if one thing breaks down. We have two kidneys, two lungs, two eyes, two ears, and two ways to breathe: through our noses and through our mouths. However, we should really try to avoid breathing through our mouths unless breathing through our noses isn’t an option.

Mouth breathing leads to a number of problems, both short and long term:

  • Lethargy. Nose breathing produces nitric oxide, which helps our lungs absorb oxygen. Mouth breathing leads to reduced oxygen levels, leaving you with less energy. For kids, this can make it harder to pay attention at school, while adults may struggle to be as productive at work.
  • Dry mouth. Mouth breathing dries out the mouth, leaving it without saliva, its first line of defense against harmful bacteria. This can lead to issues like chronic bad breath and tooth decay.
  • Sleep apnea. Mouth breathing increases the risk of sleep apnea, which makes it hard to get a full, restful night’s sleep, leading to lower energy and many other problems.
  • Altered facial structure. A mouth-breathing habit in a child can actually affect the way their facial bones develop, leading to flat features, drooping eyes, a small chin, and a narrow jaw and dental arch.
  • Orthodontic problems. Narrowed dental arches will typically not have room for the full set of adult teeth, and this will need orthodontic treatment to fix.

We Can Help You Break These Habits

If you or your child has one or both of these harmful habits and you aren’t sure what you can do to fix it, we’re here to help! Give us a call or schedule an appointment with us, and we can discuss ways to discourage mouth breathing and nail biting so that they won’t continue to endanger your oral health. Meanwhile, keep up with the good habits like twice-daily brushing and daily flossing!

We look forward to seeing you at our practice!

Top image by Flickr user David Merrett 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.

Posted in: Blog, Informative, Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

What Causes Crooked Teeth?

WHY DO ADULT TEETH come in crooked so often even though baby teeth always seem to be straight? It turns out that a number of different factors can contribute to bad bites and poor alignment in adult teeth, from age to genetics to the daily habits we don’t even think about.

The Soft Foods Theory And Dental Alignment

Experts are still debating the causes of crooked teeth, but archeologists have supplied one of the leading theories: the Soft Foods Theory. Essentially, the idea here is that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate foods that were much tougher than what we eat now, which stimulated bone growth in their jaws, giving their teeth a solid foundation to come in straight.

This theory suggests that modern people have crooked teeth more often because our soft, processed food doesn’t encourage as much jaw bone growth and because we’re missing some of the vitamins and minerals that help bones and teeth grow. (Don’t feel too jealous of those strong jaws, though, because the tradeoff was that their teeth wore out much faster.)

Genetic Ties That Bind

Aside from the theorized effects of soft foods on dental alignment, our teeth are also affected by our genes. A child who inherits a small jaw from Mom and big teeth from Dad is going to have a problem with crowding, and children whose parents wore braces will likely also need them.

Daily Habits Versus Dental Alignment

It would be pretty hard to stick to a hunter-gatherer diet these days and we have no control over our own genes, but there is one factor we can control when it comes to how straight or crooked our teeth are, and that’s daily habits. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, and even the simple action of resting your chin on your hand all contribute to shifting teeth.

Tongue thrusting, if you aren’t familiar, is the way babies swallow — pressing the tongue against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. It’s perfectly normal for them, but we’re supposed to grow out of it. People who continue to tongue thrust after babyhood put a lot of pressure on their front teeth, causing them to shift. Special orthodontic appliances can help break the habit. Click Here to Learn More

Mesial Drift: Dental Alignment Changing As We Age

Our teeth come into contact with each other countless times over decades of chewing and talking, and this can wear away at the sides of each tooth where it touches its neighbors. Teeth end up taking up less space from side to side, and then they scoot closer together, gradually pushing towards the front. This is mesial drift, which happens to most of us as we age, whether or not we’ve had braces in the past!

A Job For The Orthodontist

No matter what’s causing problems with bite or crowding, orthodontic treatment is the solution. If you’re worried about your dental alignment or that of a family member, contact us to set up a consultation so that we can take a look. Having straight teeth isn’t just about appearances; it’s about having healthier teeth that can do their job properly!

We love giving our patients the perfectly aligned smiles they deserve!

Top image by Flickr user aaron.bihari 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.

Posted in: Archived Posts, Blog, Informative

Leave a Comment (0) →

How Does Swimming Affect Teeth?

HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED any extra sensitivity in your teeth after a fun afternoon swimming? You aren’t imagining things, though it usually takes more than just one trip to the local pool before there are any effects. But what does swimming have to do with tooth sensitivity?

The Effects Of Chlorine On Tooth Enamel

When you hear the phrase “swimmer’s calculus,” you might think it’s advanced math for mermaids, but it’s actually the name of what gradually happens to tooth enamel with enough exposure to acidic chlorine ions in pool water. Chlorine in pools is great for keeping them sanitary for the public to swim in, but it also changes the acidity of the water.

Prolonged exposure to the diluted hydrochloric acid in pool water can wear away the tooth enamel of avid swimmers, leading to yellow and brown stains on the teeth and increasing tooth sensitivity. A few visits to the pool over the summer wouldn’t be enough to produce this result, but members of swimming or diving teams, water polo players, and anyone who swims laps multiple times a week to work out, could be susceptible.

A Deeper Dive: Scuba Diving And Teeth

Natural bodies of water won’t give you swimmer’s calculus, but they come with their own dental concerns. If you’ve ever dived into the deep end of a pool, you’ve probably felt the pressure building up in your ears on the way down. The deeper you go, the stronger the pressure becomes, and it can even happen in your teeth.

Tooth squeeze (barodontalgia) is when tiny air bubbles that get trapped in crevices, cracks, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure, which can be painful and may even cause a tooth to fracture! This is why it’s a good idea to visit the dentist before you begin diving, especially if you’ve had dental work done in the past.

Diving Mouthpieces And TMJ

A lot of divers agree that the “one size fits all” design of the mouthpieces is more like “one size fits none,” but if you want to breathe underwater, you have to grip it between your teeth for the entire dive anyway. This can be pretty hard on your jaws.

Clenching your jaws for extended periods can lead to temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), with symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. If you dive more than once or twice a year, a good solution might be to get your own custom-fitted mouthpiece. Click Here to learn more.

Let’s Get Those Teeth Ready For The Water!

In addition to these issues, simple tooth injuries are more common around pools than other places. To avoid these kinds of accidents, be careful around those slippery surfaces, don’t come up out of the water too fast at the edge of the pool, and don’t dive in shallow water. If you have any questions about what you can do to protect your teeth at the pool, just give us a call!

We hope that all of our patients are having a wonderful summer!

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.

Posted in: Blog

Leave a Comment (0) →

Pacifiers, Thumb Sucking, And Baby’s Teeth

IT’S NOT ALWAYS easy to know the best thing to do as a parent. Every child is different and there isn’t a handy instruction manual. One question on many new parents’ minds is when to start discouraging a child from sucking their thumbs or using pacifiers. We might not be able to answer all of your parenting questions, but we have this one covered.

Babies And Toddlers Benefit From These Habits

Sucking on anything and everything is a natural reflex for babies. It’s soothing and comforting for them, especially when they’re teething. There’s no reason to discourage thumb sucking or pacifier use for babies and toddlers. It will help them sleep, stay calm when separated from you, and even reduce the risk of SIDS.

When Should Thumb Sucking Stop?

Many parents are anxious to curb a pacifier or thumb-sucking habit behind as soon as possible because they worry it will cause the adult teeth to grow in crooked. This is a valid concern, but not before a child is about four years old, at which point most will stop sucking their thumbs on their own. If they don’t, it’s time to start weaning them off it.

Vigorous thumb sucking beyond age four can change the shape of the palate and cause an open bite in the permanent teeth. An open bite is where the front upper and lower teeth slant outward and do not touch when the teeth are closed, which causes problems with chewing and speaking clearly.

Strategies For Breaking The Thumb-Sucking Habit

These dental problems are a bigger risk for thumb suckers than pacifier users, because you can simply take the pacifier away if they won’t stop using it on their own. Hopefully you’ll be able to get your child to stop sucking their thumb by age five, but if they’re close to their sixth birthday with no signs of stopping, it’s time to get serious. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Focus on positive reinforcement. Praise successes rather than punishing continued thumb sucking.
  • Make a rewards chart so that they can see what they’re working towards.
  • Keep their hands occupied with activities like arts and crafts.
  • Be careful using topical aids to make their thumbs taste bad, because many don’t work and some are actually harmful.
  • To prevent nighttime thumb sucking, restrict access to their thumbs by putting socks on their hands. (You might need to tape them in place.)
  • Click here to learn more

Let Us Know How It’s Going!

If you’re getting worried about your child’s continued pacifier use or thumb-sucking habit, don’t hesitate to talk to us about it. We can answer any questions you may have and help you with your strategies for ensuring that your child’s palate and adult teeth develop the right way.

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

Top image by Flickr user various brennemans 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.

Posted in: Blog, Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 4 of 6 «...23456