Babies and young children often suck on their thumbs and other objects. It is a natural reflex and can give them a sense of security. But since the beginning of time, parents have worried that thumbsucking and using pacifiers could harm their child’s teeth. So, how can thumbsucking affect your child’s teeth?
When does thumbsucking become a problem?
For babies without any teeth, thumbsucking does not present much of a problem. Even after a few teeth come in, thumbsucking still isn’t a major issue necessarily, as those teeth are not permanent teeth. But when it comes to permanent teeth, thumbsucking can affect the position and crookedness of teeth or the palate (the roof of the mouth). So, the child’s age is a factor. Many children stop sucking their thumbs before the permanent front teeth erupt. It is important that before those teeth come in that the habit of thumbsucking is broken.
Additionally, how the child sucks their thumb or pacifier can affect whether dental issues arise. Children who vigorously suck on their thumb are more likely to have affected teeth versus children who more passively suck their thumb or just rest it in their mouths.
How do you stop your child from thumbsucking?
No doubt you’ve heard of many home remedies to thumb sucking. Depending on the age of the child, different methods may be effective.
- Help your child replace thumbsucking with a new method of self-soothing, like hugging a favorite stuffed animal
- Offer positive reinforcement for not thumbsucking
- Have your dentist explain the potential consequences of thumbsucking to the child
- Cover the thumb or thumbnail with a bitter substance (ask your dentist for recommendations)
- Place a bandage on the thumb
- Cover the hand with a sock at night to prevent the child from thumbsucking in his or her sleep
Thumbsucking is a difficult habit to break, especially in very young children, but if left unchecked it could lead to dental problems in the future. If you’re concerned that your child’s dependence on sucking their thumb or pacifier might be harming their teeth, talk to their dentist to find out potential issues and solutions appropriate to your child’s age and situation.
To keep your child’s teeth healthy, schedule their regular dental checkups with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.
A teething baby can be a terror: screaming, crying, irritable, and gnawing on anything he or she can find. Like all growing pains, you can’t make the teething process completely pain-free for your baby (or yourself), but there are things you can do to ease the discomfort of teething. Here are a few simple at-home remedies you can employ to soothe your teething child:
Mothers have been using this method since refrigeration became a thing, and for good reason: it works. Place a damp washcloth in the freezer for a little while—not until it’s frozen solid, just until it’s cold and slightly stiff—then give it to baby to chew on. This kills two birds with one stone because, teething babies like to chew on things and the cold helps reduce swelling and pain. You can also try freezable teething toys, as well.
In addition to using frozen toys and washcloths, you can also ice the gums directly for short period of time. Just like for other injuries, icing the area can reduce swelling and pain.
Baby Orajel™, benzocaine, and other oral numbing agents numb the gums, which reduces pain. Ensure that if you use these products, that they are specifically formulated for infants, as the adult versions of these products may be too strong for babies.
Clove oil or clove tea
Clove oil works as an anesthetic, much like over-the-counter oral numbing products. Apply diluted (it’s highly concentrated and strong, otherwise) clove oil directly to baby’s gums for teething relief. Clove tea is also a soothing agent that you can apply to the baby’s gums, or give to the baby by soaking a washcloth in the tea and letting the baby chew on it.
Another soother. Brew some chamomile—ensure that it’s caffeine-free, though—and either give it to baby in the form of a soaked washcloth to suck on or gnaw, or rub it onto the gums gently with your finger.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but there are a variety of toys designed specifically for teething babies to chew on. That way, they’re not chewing on things they shouldn’t be, like dog toys and old shoes (if this isn’t your first kid, you know, it happens).
If baby won’t stop chewing on your hair or trying to eat your necklace, try teething jewelry. There are jewelry options with silicone and wooden beads that are safe for children to chew on—and some of them are even cute!
If you’ve got questions about your baby’s new teeth, or it’s time for your baby’s first checkup, set up an appointment with Creason, Weber & Mountford Family Dentistry!
If you’re like most of us, you probably set a few New Year’s resolutions every year aimed at making yourself the best and healthiest you can be. If you’ve set a resolution this year to actually start flossing every day (instead of just lying when your dentist asks if you’ve been flossing…), here’s how you can keep that resolution.
Remind yourself of your why
It’s nearly impossible to stick to a goal if you don’t have a compelling reason to do so. That’s why you need to remind yourself of why you’re doing this: to improve your dental health. Skipping flossing can put you at risk for cavities between your teeth and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums that can be the first stage of gum disease.) Flossing removes plaque buildup and bacteria from between the teeth and gums to prevent these issues.
Make it a habit
We all know that bad habits are hard to break, but so are good ones! Make flossing a part of your regular morning or evening routine. Set your floss or flossers right next to your toothbrush as a visual reminder that you need to floss after brushing your teeth. You can also set an alarm or reminder on your phone.
Don’t have an all-or-nothing mindset
If you forget to floss one day, that doesn’t mean your resolution is wrecked or you’ve failed. Just get back on the horse the next day. No one is perfect, and if you expect yourself never to mess up, you’re destined to fail. If you forget to floss one day, it’s not the end of the world. Remember, flossing 90 percent of the time is better than never!
Make it easy for yourself
If you really hate flossing, it’s never going to be fun, but you can make things easy for yourself. Humans tend toward the path of least resistance, so make it easy to floss. Keep your house stocked with floss or flossers so that you never run out and use that as an excuse to give up. If you really hate using traditional floss, buy flossers or interdental cleaners to use instead.
Do it with a buddy
Accountability is super important when it comes to keeping resolutions. If you can, find someone to do your flossing goal with you. That way, you can keep each other on track and encourage each other. While a flossing buddy doesn’t have the same ring to it as workout buddy, it’s still a useful strategy. Even if you can’t find someone else to commit to the same goal, just telling another person about your flossing goal can help you keep it.
Flossing is critical to dental health, and setting a New Year’s resolution to floss daily is a great way to improve your dental health in the new year. Follow the tips above to ensure you’re successful in your goal.
Another way to keep up your oral health this year is by getting regular dental checkups. If it’s time you had a checkup, call Drs. Creason, Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry today!
Cavity is a scary word. Ever since we were kids, we’ve been told to brush our teeth and lay off the sweets or we’d get cavities. Whether or not our parents’ scare tactics worked, even now, cavities and tooth decay can be a painful and pesky problem. How do we prevent them? Here are the five worst habits we have when it comes to cavities:
- Eating Lots of Sweets
Sugar can be devastating to your teeth. This is because the bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and, as a byproduct, produces acid. This acid dissolves tooth enamel, which weakens the tooth and can lead to cavities and tooth decay. It follows that eating lots of sweet, sugary candies and other sweet things can result in cavities and enamel erosion (and remember, enamel never grows back).
- Eating Sticky Foods
Eating foods that can stick to your teeth, just like eating sugary foods (and let’s be honest, those categories often overlap), can cause cavities. Your mouth bacteria will devour the food particles stuck to your teeth, then release the acid byproduct directly onto your teeth, where it can do the most damage. Additionally, sticky foods are harder to brush, floss, and otherwise remove from your teeth, making them even more likely to stick around in your mouth, even after brushing, causing further decay.
- Eating Between Meals
Snacking isn’t all bad, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that snacking can be good for your metabolism. It can be bad for your mouth, though, if you’re not careful. Most people brush their teeth after meals and before going to bed, but you’re less likely to brush your teeth after a snack. This can leave food residue (like sugar) in your mouth for long periods of time, providing food for bacteria to feast on, then secrete enamel-destroying acids.
- Drinking Sugary Beverages
We all know that sugary treats can cause cavities, but so can sugary drinks like sodas and juice. These beverages can be even worse for your teeth than candies and desserts because you’re even less likely to brush your teeth after downing a can of cola or a juice box than after eating a sweet with a meal.
- Drinking Bottled Water
Water, bottled or not, is nearly always a better health choice than juice, alcohol, or soda, but not all water is created equal. The truth is that many bottled waters lack the fluoride that is added to municipal water sources. As you know, fluoride is used to protect your teeth – it helps remineralize and strengthen tooth enamel, which is what protects teeth from decay. Drinking only bottled water could leave your teeth without enough exposure to fluoride to stop decay.
Each of these five habits could lead to or contribute to the formation of cavities in your teeth and, combined, could be a recipe for a whole mouthful of cavities and tooth problems. To reduce your risk of cavities, eat a sensible diet, with limited sugary foods and drinks; drink water, but not only fluoride-less bottled waters; and brush your teeth after eating to prevent food from sticking to teeth and fueling decay-causing bacteria. These things, in addition to regular dental cleanings, can help keep your teeth strong and cavity-free.
If you think you might have a cavity, call our office today! We’ll schedule an appointment and get your cavity taken care of before it gets any worse.
Oral health is an oft-neglected component of well-being, but a crucial one. When it comes to kids, who are growing, developing, and not too concerned with health and wellness, it’s important for parents to set them up for success. One major component of dental health is strong teeth, and there are plenty of foods that kids can eat to support strong and healthy teeth; maybe even some they like!
Try not to groan when your kids ask for mac and cheese…again. Unless your children are lactose intolerant or dairy-free for another reason, dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt can help support strong teeth. They contain calcium, an important mineral for bone strength.
If your children are dairy-free, almonds are an excellent alternative source of calcium. Bonus: almonds are high in protein and low in sugar, and they make plenty of palatable milk substitutes from them.
Think spinach, kale, and the like. Just don’t ask us how to get your kids to eat them. Dark leafy greens are another food high in calcium, and they’re also high in folic acid, which is good for gums.
Meat, eggs, and fish
All of these options–in addition to high protein content, which is necessary for a strong body–are high in phosphorous, which helps keep tooth enamel strong. Bring on the fish sticks.
Water is obviously healthy, but if your water has added fluoride, it can help strengthen teeth. If your water doesn’t (e.g., you have a well instead of city water), you can purchase bottled waters that have added fluoride. Additionally, other beverages and foods which are made or prepared with fluoridated water may retain some of that fluoride and the associated tooth-strengthening benefits.
Grains get a bad rap these days, but when it comes to strong teeth, they can be a boon. Many breads and other grain products are made using fortified flours, which have added vitamins and minerals, including the all-important calcium. Good thing PB&J sandwiches will always be in style.
A diet rich in nutrients and minerals is essential to raise strong and healthy kids, with strong and healthy teeth. Childhood is a foundation for the rest of a child’s life, especially when it comes to health, and dental health is a part of that. Incorporating some of the foods listed above can help fortify your children’s’ diets, and their teeth.
Have your kids gotten cavities anyway? Set them up with an appointment at Creason, Weber & Mountford Family Dentistry.
Going to the dentist isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do, and oftentimes, people ignore serious oral health issues to avoid the dentist entirely. In addition to your recommended bi-annual dental check-up, you should see a dentist if you experience any of the following.
1. You Broke a Tooth
This seems obvious, but if you broke a tooth, you should see a dentist as soon as possible to have the situation evaluated. If left unexamined, a broken tooth could lead to an infection or tooth decay, as well as further breakage and pain. If necessary, your dentist can cap your broken tooth to prevent potential issues or for aesthetic reasons, so your tooth looks whole again.
2. Your Teeth Hurt
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and where there’s pain, there’s usually an underlying issue. Don’t self-diagnose or just suck it up–see a dentist and find out what’s causing the pain. Tooth pain can occur as a result of myriad issues, including clenching or grinding your teeth, tooth decay, gum disease, new teeth coming in, or shifting teeth.
3. You Have Persistent Bad Breath
If you have bad breath, despite having good oral hygiene, you should definitely get checked out. Bad breath can be a sign of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, which can result in periodontitis and serious health issues. Chronic bad breath is also a symptom of a number of other conditions, and shouldn’t be left untreated. Even if your halitosis isn’t a result of a medical condition, your dentist will be able to help you control your bad breath.
4. You Have Mouth Sores
Any sore lasting longer than a week should warrant a dental examination. Mouth sores can be caused by a variety of conditions, and could be indicative of a larger health problem, or could lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream, causing infection.
5. Your Gums Are Inflamed
Like bad breath, gum inflammation can be a sign of gingivitis or poor dental hygiene. In either case, seeing a dentist is crucial to rectifying the problem, whether it’s a more vigorous and consistent flossing routine or something more serious.
6. Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
If you have trouble eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages, you should see a dentist. Many people have sensitivity to hot and cold, and your dentist may just recommend a mouthwash or toothpaste that reduces sensitivity; however, the issue may be the result of an exposed nerve or receding gums, which indicate larger oral health issues requiring treatment.
The issues we’ve mentioned above should not be taken lightly, as left untreated, they could cause serious health issues down the road. If you experience pain, sensitivity, inflammation, sores, bad breath, or tooth breakage, be sure to make an appointment with a dentist to evaluate and treat the problem, before it escalates.
Time to see a dentist? Give our office a call!